Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel was re-elected by a nearly 2-1 margin, overcoming a stiff challenge from a former deputy.
With 257 of 257 precincts reporting, Whetsel received 163,839 votes, 64.7 percent of the total, while Republican Darrell Sorrels earned 89,352 votes, 35.3 percent of the total.
Whetsel’s day began at 1:30 a.m., when he met about 50 supporters who put up campaign signs near polling places. After attending a traditional election day service at the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist in Edmond, he voted in Choctaw.
Whetsel did not begin to hear the official election results until about 9:30 p.m., and then at about 9:45 p.m. he learned the race had been called. He thanked his supporters for all they have done.
“I was really pleased the citizens have given me more time in this office,” he said. “It reaffirmed what we’ve been doing.”
Late Tuesday evening, Sorrels said he hadn’t had a chance to call and congratulate Whetsel. Sorrels thanked his supporters and all those who voted for him, and he defended the tone of his campaign, which Whetsel did not appreciate.
“The campaign went really good,” Sorrels said. “I’m really pleased with what we’ve done.”
The sheriff’s office has jurisdiction in more than 150 square miles of unincorporated areas in Oklahoma County. During the last 15 years, the crime rate in those areas has dropped 86 percent, and the traffic crash rate has been reduced by 92 percent, Whetsel said in a previous report.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office has 805 full-time employees and 200 reserve deputies. About 500 full-time employees work in the jail. Recent boosts in technology include the jail’s surveillance camera system and deputies with new mobile data computers that provide instant access to criminal records inside their patrol cars.
In a previous report, Whetsel said during his 44-year career he has never had a complaint filed against him related to excessive force or police brutality. In 1967, he began his law enforcement career when he joined the Choctaw Police Department. He served as police chief there for 21 years before being elected county sheriff.
He also expanded a non-denominational jail ministry with more than 100 regular volunteers who make thousands of contacts requested by inmates. It has reduced inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-officer violence, Whetsel said.
Sorrels served Oklahoma County citizens for more than 20 years in law enforcement, including his current role as a special deputy for the U.S. Marshal Service in the Western District of Oklahoma. He worked in the courts, was a deputy working for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office under J.D. Sharp, served on a tactical team in high-risk tactical operations and supervised deputies as a patrol supervisor.
He attended Oklahoma City Community College and Oklahoma State University Tech, and earned an advanced law enforcement certification with the state of Oklahoma. He is also a state certified law enforcement instructor.
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