4 Oklahoma Sheriffs Show Bad Behavior

Friday, February 27th 2009, 12:26 am
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An embattled sheriff is taking legal action. The injunction filed Thursday by Joe Craig is the latest move by the former Seminole County Sheriff in hopes of getting his job back.

A local lawman says this needs to stop.

If you're keeping track at home, Craig is just the latest Oklahoma sheriff to find himself on the wrong end of the law. Three others have been busted for bad behavior and one group says it's had enough.

"When one sheriff gets arrested, there are 76 others that feel the pain," Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said.

Whetsel is president of the Oklahoma Sheriffs Association. On the group's board was Joe Craig. That's before the Seminole County Sheriff pleaded guilty to giving alcohol to an underage girl. Whetsel says the 62-year-old tried to resign from the board following his confession.

"The members of the board voted not to accept the resignation and then voted to oust him from the board," Whetsel said.

Whetsel says it's bad when one of their own breaks the law, but Craig's not alone.

Former Woodward County Sheriff Les Morton received a one-year deferred sentence in January for his role in a felony embezzlement case.

Former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess is currently behind bars for sexually abusing prisoners.

Kieran McMullen stepped down as Grady County Sheriff after neglecting his duties following an illegal gambling raid in 2006.

"It's a shame that the actions of so few will really cloud the badge that all of us carry," Whetsel said.

Whetsel says in its upcoming conference, the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association will offer a two-day course for all 77 sheriffs that will focus on character and ethics.

"We don't have an option of not dealing with it," Whetsel said.

Whetsel says the great thing about Oklahoma's law enforcement is its long standing habit of dealing with its own. He says the prosecution of high-ranking lawmen is proof that just because one enforces the law, it doesn't mean he or she is above it.

Seminole County Sheriff Joe Craig says the agency that suspended his peace officer certification did so without due process. That's why he's appealing the group's decision.