Sheriff Candidate Questionnaires

Virgil Green

Why do you want to be sheriff of Oklahoma County? I have been a resident in Southeast Oklahoma County for over 20 years. I have over 17 years of law enforcement experience that includes police administration. I believe my leadership style and vision for the Sheriff department makes me a qualified candidate to become Sheriff.   I believe it’s time to take the department in a different direction that will address the overcrowding in the jail and seriously address the mental health concerns of inmates in the jail.
Explain if you think rebuilding/upgrading the county jail is needed and feasible financially. A new jail will not fix Oklahoma County’s problems. The first step needs to be fixing the criminal justice sentencing guidelines. That will address other forms of incarceration of low-level misdemeanor arrest by local agencies. While there is a need for a new jail, we must fix the overcrowding in the current jail.
How would you improve access to mental health and medical care for inmates? This is another priority for the next sheriff, how to address inmates who have been identified with mental health problems. More has to be done to make sure individuals suffering from mental health and substance abuse receive the care and treatment they need. I would like to establish an advisory board to come up with a comprehensive plan to fix the mental health of inmates in the jail.
What are your thoughts on the inmate to deputy ratio inside the jail? To improve the safety of detention officers, and inmates there has to be a new effort to hire more detention officers that will reduce the ratio of inmates to detention officers. But at the same time if jail overcrowding is fixed this will help with this concern.
Are there security concerns inside the Oklahoma County jail? Yes there are always security concerns inside a large detention facility. An assessment of the current operations will show if there are concerns that would need to be addressed.
How will you address the potential loss of funds from housing federal and state inmates at the Oklahoma County jail? It’s apparent not just Oklahoma County jail has become dependent on outside funding to house inmates. Once a person has been sentenced to D.O.C. they should be transferred immediately. The Sheriff department needs to look at its budget and make the necessary changes to offset the reduced funds. I would look at ways to re-establish federal inmates into the county jail. This can be done by taking the recommendations to become compliant with jail standards to house federal inmates.
How would you avoid a federal takeover of the Oklahoma County jail due to violations identified there? Identify the problems that are existing violations. Work with federal officials to ensure every resource is being used to correct the problem.
How would you utilize your role to ensure trust between police officers and the minority communities? As a minority I can fully understand the distrust the community has for law enforcement. As Sheriff, I would make every effort to reach out to the minority community to establish an open door policy and to be transparent in how the Sheriff department operates. I would establish a clergy advisory board with local pastors and utilize their voices in effort to rebuild a partnership with those in the minority communities. I would implement a community policing policy where deputies and I will be out in the community interacting with minority communities in a community policing program.
What are your thoughts on the death penalty? I believe the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances. There are extraordinarily heinous crimes, terrorism and the harm of children in which it may be appropriate.

 

 

Ed Grimes

Why do you want to be sheriff of Oklahoma County? Why do I want to become Sheriff and why should voters vote for me? The short answer is that I am the best person for the position. But why? First, I have been in law enforcement for over 40 years both on the streets and in administration/management (I guarantee you no other candidate has arrested as many offenders as I have). Whether I was on the street or behind a desk managing over 85 deputies, I have a history of forming relationships with other law enforcement officers and agencies. My philosophy is that we are all in this together. Ego is prevalent in our field but should have no place in the Sheriff’s Office. When I become Sheriff of Oklahoma County I will bridge the gap between our Office and the other law enforcement agencies in our area. I have done this before with Canadian County and will do it again with Oklahoma County. Second, I am a man of my word with an open-door policy. It is commonplace for an elected official to place themselves on a pedestal and not allow other’s access except through very few subordinates. I have always maintained an open-door policy and would continue to do so with not only my deputies, but my staff, other agencies, and the public. Third, since I am an Independent I do not align myself with political parties rather I make decisions based on the issues. I believe the main issues with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office are the jail (facility and procedures), budget (fees and revenue), and deputy morale (pay and promotion).

Once in office I will gather information about each issue and make logical, informed decisions. There needs to be a change not only with the vision of the Sheriff’s Office, but the core values. I will serve and support my deputies so they can serve and support the public.

Explain if you think rebuilding/upgrading the county jail is needed and feasible financially. I believe rebuilding/upgrading the jail is an absolute necessity. Unfortunately due to the time constraints of building a new jail we will have to spend funds on this upgrade in the short-term. It is not a financially smart decision but we are left with no choice at this point. If the jail is left in the current condition, it places jail staff and inmates in unsafe conditions.
How would you improve access to mental health and medical care for inmates? Yes, these services are crucial for protection of prisoners and staff. I will implement a comprehensive mental health screening when prisoners arrive at the facility. This would allow the jail staff to communicate and place those with certain mental health issues in the jail. Low level, non-violent offenders may not require alternatives to simply being placed in the jail such as being redirected to community based mental health and addiction programs.
What are your thoughts on the inmate to deputy ratio inside the jail? The ratio is poor and overcrowding in the jail is at a critical level and is one of the key issues in the jail. I will increase staff and increase the level of quality staff two ways: increased salary and increased morale. Both of these issues I successfully tackled as the Undersheriff for Canadian County. I am confident I would be successful again with

 

Oklahoma County.
Are there security concerns inside the Oklahoma County jail? Yes, overcrowding, mental health, lack of staff and lack of qualified staff are the immediate security concerns with the jail. I plan to address each of the issues once I become Sheriff as otherwise discussed in this questionnaire.
How will you address the potential loss of funds from housing federal and state inmates at the Oklahoma County jail? The problem with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and the jail are systemic but I believe the majority of issues are caused by improper budgeting of funds. By reading the most recent audit of the Sheriff Office it becomes apparent the lack of funds are due to improper (not in a criminal sense) allocation of resources e.g. purchasing new vehicles instead of paying debt. I will review the budget and allocated funds to crucial programs while not spending frivolously and without recourse.
How would you avoid a federal takeover of the Oklahoma County jail due to violations identified there? Avoiding federal takeover means taking immediate and drastic action in regard to the jail. I would immediately focus on the safety issues for both staff and prisoners (mold, kitchen in the sally port, etc). I would create a preventative maintenance program. I would increase staffing while attempting to increase the level of applicants requesting positions at the jail. To do this would mean an increase in pay and improving morale with the staff. I would improve morale by creating a fair and equal opportunity for promotions by jail staff.
How would you utilize your role to ensure trust between police officers and the minority communities? Community policing is not a new concept and should be focused on at the Sheriff’s Office. Currently the Sheriff’s Office participates in wonderful programs similar to Triad (which assists senior citizens). These types of programs are expected cross economic and racial boundaries across the County. I would continue the School Resource deputy program, in addition to, providing community policing training for deputies (but most importantly the Patrol Division which has daily interaction with the public). As Sheriff I will serve ALL CITIZENS of our County regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation and religion. We will work hard to create and maintain our relationships with the leaders in the communities.
What are your thoughts on the death penalty? I support the laws of the State of Oklahoma. The death penalty is a highly discussed issue that I believe has no place for discussion in the Sheriff’s Office. We simply enforce the laws of the State. If the law changes to end the death penalty in Oklahoma I will support that law as well.

 

Mike Hanson

 

Why do you want to be sheriff of Oklahoma County? I have witnessed many issues that need to be corrected. I believe in doing what is right and treating all employees the same. The Sheriff’s Office needs a good cleaning out. I know who and what needs to be done. I’m tired of waiting on someone else to do it and getting nothing done.
Explain how rebuilding or upgrading the county jail is feasible financially. Building a new jail can help lower staffing needs if built correctly. Engineers and commissioners will make the decision if we build a new one or not. We will need to upgrade if we stay with this jail. It could improve the smell and stop some of the future lawsuits from black mold.
How would you improve access to mental health and medical care for inmates? I would like to see the county hire a full time doctor and a couple of nurses to be on site around the clock. Have a fully operational medical floor where they can do anything for the inmates. The medical company we are currently using is a joke. Mental Health inmates should be divided into violent and non-violent then placed accordingly. Non-violent would be off site at a mental health facility.
What are your thoughts on the inmate to deputy ratio inside the jail? We need more detention officers. We need less upper command staff. All employees would be working on the floors.
Are there security concerns inside the Oklahoma County jail? There are many concerns about safety and security in the jail. Some of the most violent inmates have access to phones and drugs based on medical staff and their ability to roam the floors unmonitored.
How will you address the potential loss of funds from housing federal and state inmates at the Oklahoma County jail? We should never have the need to keep the jail full of inmates. The commissioners would need to fully fund the jail. We could ask Oklahoma City to build a city jail to keep state inmates away from city inmates. We never need those inmates we just used that money for other things like parade vehicles.
How would you utilize your role to ensure trust between police officers and the minority communities? I would not specify any race. It would be my job to get the entire community behind the Sheriff’s Office. It will take everyone to make it work.
How would you avoid a federal takeover of the Oklahoma County jail due to violations identified there? It would never be a Federal takeover of the jail. It would only be a Federal order to build a jail. The Federal Gov. doesn’t want that task. The Federal Agencies want Oklahoma County to take the inmates. I have spoken to many agents and they absolutely hate going to Grady county. I think we could fix it. It will take the commissioners and the sheriff to work together.
What are your thoughts on the death penalty? I believe in the death penalty. That is not something I can change.

 

The following candidates did not respond to email requests

Mike Christian

Brett Macy

Darrell Sorrels

PD Taylor