How An Oklahoma Co. Partnership Will Help Prevent Drugs From Entering Jail

Oklahoma County leaders launched a new partnership to stop drugs from entering the Oklahoma County Detention Center. This new partnership allows them to pursue suspects outside the jail’s walls. 

Wednesday, June 19th 2024, 10:57 pm

By: News 9, Jordan Fremstad


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Oklahoma County leaders launched a new partnership to stop drugs from entering the Oklahoma County Detention Center.

The priority prompted new action from the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office. A new collaboration between the DA's office and OCDC is about stopping the crime cycle. 

Before this agreement -- detention center investigators only had authority inside the jail. This new partnership allows them to pursue suspects outside the jail’s walls. Illegal drugs often disrupt a community’s rhythm.  

“Fentanyl is a drug that we’re all very concerned about,” said Vicki Behenna, Oklahoma County District Attorney. “We don’t want it on our streets, and it has no place in the Oklahoma County Detention Center either. It drains the resources of law enforcement. It drains the resources of the criminal justice system.” 

Oklahoma County Detention Center investigators had authority inside the jail. Investigators had to rely on other agencies to pursue the suspects. 

“They kinda had to stop at the walls,” Behenna said. “As a result of that, we decided to this cross-commissioning agreement.” 

Behenna's office opened a door to save investigators’ time to follow leads. Behenna said they do not need additional staff.   

“My investigators have statewide jurisdiction,” Behenna said. 

The Prison Policy Initiative shows that 41% of people arrested suffer from substance use disorder. 

“What we see in the criminal justice system is a number of individuals who cycle through the system,” Behenna said. 

Behenna said this partnership allows OCDC investigators to interview suspects themselves. They can follow an investigation directly to discover the source of any drugs. Behenna said quicker investigations protect people. 

“To ensure, even if someone is held pretrial, that they’re safe in that environment,” Behenna said. 

Oklahoma County plans to build a new jail and mental health facility. 

“If we treat the underlying problem – substance abuse – and stabilize that individual, then they’re not gonna reenter the system,” Behenna said. 

Behenna said these tools can restore a healthy community pulse.  

“I think all of that is really, really good for the community,” Behnna said. 

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