The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is warning schools, business owners and residents that they may have to cease patrols, investigations and the school resource officer program if the county diverts money to the jail.
But one county leader says the sheriff's office isn't telling the full truth.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office fears county commissioners will divert all fees and fines paid by inmates to the county jail that houses them.
"That's how we pay for our law enforcement people. If they roll those funds back into the jail to support jail operations, they are slowly starving out the law enforcement operations of the sheriff’s office,” said Major Jim Anderson of the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office.
Right now, deputies patrol throughout the county, including unincorporated areas that don’t have their own police departments. The sheriff’s office also has contracts to place 20 deputies in 13 schools.
"Every year those contract deals come up and every year district two county commissioner Brian Maughan votes against renewing those contracts. Because he wants us to put all of our eggs in the jail,” said Major Anderson.
County Commissioner Brian Maughan replied, "I don't think that there's any truth to accusations about me wishing to eliminate patrol or the jail trust will eliminate patrol in unincorporated areas, and I also don't think it necessarily means we won’t have school protection for our facility and students that are in all of our schools."
Maughan said with the U.S. Department of Justice inspecting the jail this month, more money should be diverted. "I think with the jail riot we had a week ago Sunday night and the jail deaths we've had and the number of problems we've had with officers, detention officers getting injured and hurt and I think we have a real reason to be concerned."
So, Maughan would like to see patrols reduced to areas that don’t have police departments and school resource officers, or SRO’s, eventually replaced with local police or private security.
As for the sheriff’s office letter, Maughan said, "I'm very concerned about that. I've thought for years we've made progress and we've staved them off, but now I think with these recent things that have developed and knowing where we are on staffing levels, I think that's a reason to be concerned."