NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

OK County sheriff's race one to watch in 2020

Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor

As the Oklahoma County jail moves toward being managed by an administrator, the sheriff finds himself adjusting to a new role — and being challenged by at least three men who want the job.

P.D. Taylor, a veteran of nearly 50 years in law enforcement, became sheriff in a 2017 special election following the retirement of his predecessor. Taylor strongly opposed turning the jail over to an administrator, but lost that fight last year when the newly formed jail trust approved the change.

Taylor has set April 15 as the date for the administrator to assume oversight of the jail, although that could change. He initially set the date as Jan. 1 before agreeing to mid-April.

After having fought it, Taylor now says an upside to the pending change is that, “I will be able to devote all my time to law enforcement.”

He plans to focus on, among other things, improvements to the office’s patrol and investigation units, management practices for his deputies, and getting additional funding to boost service in the county’s unincorporated areas. His priority, Taylor said in announcing his re-election bid in November, “will be keeping citizens safe and working hard and continuing to do the very best job we can.”

Others believe they’re better suited for the job. One of those is a current sheriff’s deputy, Mike McCully, who was critical of his boss as he announced his intention to run.

“We need a sheriff who will serve with honesty and integrity to come in and change the environment of our department,” McCully said.

He said he wants to improve relations with other elected and appointed officials, and increase immigration enforcement. He also wants to change hiring, firing and promotion practices in the office, saying that advancement for too long has been tied to “being a crony of the sheriff or doing his political bidding.”

Another announced candidate is Tommie Johnson, a police officer in Norman since 2015. Johnson says that as sheriff, he would focus on fiscal responsibility, promoting partnerships and using policing in rural areas to create safer communities.

“As the last few years have made abundantly clear, the old ways of doing things just aren’t getting it done,” he said.

The third announced challenger to Taylor is Wayland Cubit, an Oklahoma City police officer. Transparency, mental health and increased community policing are among the points of focus for Cubit, who 10 years ago began an officer-led outreach program that mentors at-risk youth.

“Law enforcement should be about helping people,” he said recently in starting his campaign. “That’s what I’ve focused on as a police officer and what I want to bring to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.”

Soon enough, managing the jail won’t be Taylor’s concern and he’ll be able to focus on other pursuits, including retaining his job. It figures to be a race worth watching this year.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›

Comments