The Edmond Sun

Our View

October 29, 2012

OUR VIEW: Re-elect Sheriff Whetsel

EDMOND — Public safety is a core function of government. It should be one of the top priorities of every elected official in Oklahoma. On Nov. 6, voters in Oklahoma County will be asked to assess how their public safety is being handled in the county by choosing a sheriff for the next four years.

Sheriff John Whetsel has had the voters’ trust and confidence for the past 16 years. We see no reason why he should not be given another four years to serve the citizens of Oklahoma County.

Whetsel has done a good job in maintaining response times, safety and security in the unincorporated areas of the county in spite of a significant population increase in the past 10 years. He has implemented numerous programs to help bring down crime through more awareness such as the TRIAD program for senior citizens and the sheriff’s substations in Quail Springs Mall, Deer Creek and other areas of the county. Another area of success for the sheriff is the numerous grant awards his office has received for equipment and programs. We support these grant efforts as long as the funds are not used for salaries of personnel.

From a law enforcement perspective, we believe Whetsel is a good lawman who has served the citizenry well during his career.

The one sticking point for any voter to consider in their assessment of the sheriff is the county jail. While it’s true the jail recently regained its national accreditation, there remains a significant issue with the structure itself. It will be up to the county commissioners and ultimately voters on how to proceed in finding a future for the jail.

Whetsel says that being sheriff is not really about the jail, but about fighting crime. While we can appreciate the sentiment, we find some disagreement with him on this issue. Essentially, the sheriff is tasked with overseeing the jail whether he believes it’s his strong suit or not. We applaud Whetsel for finding a very capable jail administrator, who was instrumental in turning the situation around so that the jail’s accreditation could be regained. We look to Sheriff Whetsel for continued strong leadership as the county wrestles with how to move forward — whether it be in building a new jail or retrofittng the existing facility. His experience in dealing with numerous difficult issues such as the state of health care and mental health care of inmates will be key in finding the best solution for a new jail.

Mostly, though, we find Sheriff Whetsel to be a capable advocate for Oklahoma County on numerous public safety issues. From his work with the state Legislature to make sheriff’s elections non-partisan to his award-winning traffic safety efforts, we believe Whetsel brings the right mix of leadership and vision to the office of sheriff.

The election is Nov. 6. We urge voters to consider all candidates carefully and cast their ballot on election day.

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