Since taking office more than a year ago, I have maintained a promise to work hard protecting use of the county’s hard-earned taxpayer dollars. To improve transparency, we recently proposed a policy that would require Board of County Commissioner’s approval for private, for-profit use of county property.
Some have claimed this is an attempt to constrain off-duty jobs of sheriff’s deputies, which is not true. This policy does not impact the ability of deputies to have second jobs. It only adds accountability over taxpayer-funded property and protects taxpayers from liability.
According to the County Budget, last fiscal year, the Sheriff’s Office had 311 vehicles, including 252 cars. That’s more cars than they have full-time law enforcement officers! The need for oversight, transparency, and accountability over county property is evident.
This policy would add language to county policy that prohibits the use of Oklahoma County property “unless approved in advance by the Board of County Commissioners." Commissioners are the officials who have to respond to lawsuits against the county, and decide whether to settle or litigate claims, and are thus the appropriate body to decide on the use of county property. This wording is comparable to policies of several nearby jurisdictions, as well as jurisdictions in Texas. In no case would such language inhibit law enforcement officers from working off-duty jobs, nor does it prohibit the use of county equipment in appropriate circumstances. Approval and oversight from the commissioners is what we seek.
It’s a shame that some continue to spread misinformation that hinders our ability to protect county taxpayers financially, just as they spread misinformation in opposing the new Jail Trust. I appreciate the hard work of our sheriff’s deputies, on and off-duty. Let’s work together to improve transparency and accountability of county operations, and protect taxpayers from liability.