Monday, February 29, 2016

Guest Editorial: WTPO Ranks Fitzpatrick As Best Candidate For Sheriff

  In part one of this series, we learned about the organization of We The People Oklahoma and their efforts to bring needed reforms to the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.  This group consists of many private individuals, many of whom are also active in other civil rights, civil liberties, and constitutional rights groups. They worked very hard over the last 10 months to address serious problems in law enforcement and especially with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.
  In part two, we see their perspective on the needs of the office and their take on who brings what assets to their candidacy. Sooner Politics congratulates We The People for being proactive and solution-oriented. This organization will no be going away any time soon.


  The Tulsa County Sheriff Republican Primary election will take place on March 1, 2016 and the winner of that primary will go on to face the Democrat in the General election on April 5, 2016. We have had an opportunity to look into who is running, why they are running and who is backing each candidate. The TCSO is an integral part of law enforcement in Oklahoma and the new sheriff needs to be an individual of integrity, an effective leader and a person who understands the needs of a diverse county. We have scored each of the candidates on a scale of 1 – 5. 1 being the highest and 5 being the lowest. 
"The TCSO is an integral part of law enforcement in Oklahoma and the new sheriff needs to be an individual of integrity, an effective leader and a person who understands the needs of a diverse county."

John Fitzpatrick-R Rating 2.5 
  Has an impressive resume as a business executive. We believe he can do well in bringing the TCSO out of the financial mire that it is in currently. Understanding business, how to balance books and accounting can come in handy. He has already obtained a copy of the TCSO budget and has been going through it which shows initiative. As a former fighter pilot and current Tulsa PD reserve officer he also understands the dedication, commitment, and honor of being a civil servant. Fitzpatrick wants to implement a Faith based initiative however they often lack the necessary progressiveness needed to tackle problematic situations. Also not everyone has the same beliefs which is why a separation of church and state is mentioned in the US Constitution. A citizen review board would be more effective. Fitzpatrick seems to be genuinely concerned about the people in the TCSO and the citizens of Tulsa County. He has met with us directly to hear our concerns which is refreshing. His plan is to eliminate wasteful spending, develop strong relationships with the community and act quickly on the findings of the audit of the TCSO.  
Rex Berry-D Rating 3 
  Looks great on paper and has an impressive resume. He is a former Tulsa Police officer who retired after 26 years. His plan for the TCSO is to improve training, improve morale, show transparency, address public concerns and improve jail safety. Berry is a quick study, who makes an effort to understand and work with various groups and different cultures. His cons would be that he doesn’t have a great deal of knowledge about the day to day operations of the jail but that could come with time. Also he may have difficulty and push back from those who are complicit with the supporters of the former Sheriff. Otherwise we have heard great things about Berry personally and have noticed his attendance at meetings concerning the jail and the county. Not too many candidates running have attended these meetings. 
Tom Helm-R. Rating 3
   As a former TCSO deputy he has the experience and knows the ins and outs of the jail from the perspective of a deputy. This can be helpful in relating to the staff and getting cooperation and feedback on the changes he will need to implement. He left the TCSO to work as an agent for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. We have only spoken with Helm in passing but he seems open and willing to fix the glaring problems in the department. His plan is a complete overhaul of the assessor/appraisal system, eliminate wasteful spending, reach a housing agreement with the City and build morale in the TCSO.  
Jason Jackson-R Rating 3
  Is a Jenks patrol sergeant and has worked in law enforcement for 18 years. He understands the importance of training and knows a department is only as good as its leadership. In many of the candidate forums he has expressed the need to revamp the TCSO. His plans are to increase training for reserve deputies, eliminate patronage and favoritism, increase revenue without raising taxes, and create a partnership with municipal police departments. Jason is a good candidate however we have not seen him at the jail meetings.  
Dan Miller-R Rating 3 
  Has been a law enforcement officer for 20 years with the Tulsa Police Department and his daughter works for the TCSO. He is the only candidate we have seen consistently at the jail sales tax overview and county commissioner meetings. He also reached out to speak with us directly about our concerns. His plans are to evaluate all employees, civilianize administration positions, audit the jail, improve training, and be actively involved in the community. He also suggests implementing a management team of civilians, deputies and detention officers to review policy and procedures. 
Luke Sherman-R Rating 3.5 has served on the Tulsa Police Department for 23 years. He doesn’t seem to be as connected to the good old boy system as some of the others. However he comes off as lacking a personal connection with the community outside of law enforcement and may be too militarized in his thinking. Not all situations require a show of force. The police should be a part of the community and not over the community. Sherman states he is willing to do what is necessary to promote “bold leadership” however his plans on how to do that are somewhat vague. We would like to see more details on his plans to improve the TCSO. He recently reached out to us but we were not able to meet with him prior to the publication of our opinion of the candidates. 
Brandon Hendrix-R Rating 4.5
  Currently works as a TCSO deputy. This again may or may not be helpful. His plan is to improve training, improve morale, attend community events and improve jail administration. We have not heard from Hendrix directly and don’t know enough real details about his plans if he were to become Sheriff.  
Randy Pierce-R, Rating 5
  Has worked with the TCSO for 22 years and states he has experience in most roles in the sheriff office. He also oversees courthouse operations. His plans about how he will change the office are vague and he may be too connected with the old system to make the changes needed. He has acknowledged the waste in the TCSO but what is he doing currently as a TCSO employee to limit that waste?  
Vic Regalado-R. Rating 5
  We are concerned that he is too connected with the same individuals who were connected with former Sheriff Stanley Glanz. His donors include wealthy TCSO reserve deputies and close friends of the former sheriff including his current attorney. We were very concerned when, at a recent candidate forum, he stated the known abuses in the TCSO are just rumors and innuendo. Several candidates admonished him for making that statement. Despite his list of high paying donors and ads suggesting he would abolish the good old boy mentality we feel that he would be more of the same. His plans for changes in the TCSO are vague at best. Regalado does however have a working knowledge of local and federal agencies and was awarded the Medal of Valor. 

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