OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Monday evening two Oklahoma County Commissioners gave their reasoning for voting to stay with the Jail Trust and not dissolve it.
All three commissioners voted to keep the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust) Monday morning in executive session of the Board of County Commissioners of Oklahoma County.
An item to consider “dissolution” of the Trust had been placed on the agenda for the executive session.
District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert was first out with a written public statement around 4 p.m.
“My vote today was not an endorsement of the Trust’s performance up until this point,” Blumert stated. “I feel very strongly that the Trust has fallen short of their obligation to serve the taxpayers of Oklahoma County.”
Blumert said that there were “too many decisions” that would be involved in dissolving the Trust at this time.
“The employees working in the detention center and the people being detained there deserve stability. Turning over operations for the second time in less than a year will only create more confusion and potential harm,” said Blumert.
She referred to recent events of a hostage situation at the jail and eventual shooting death of one of the detainees a “wake up call to the member of the Trust.”
Blumert added, “Although I hope it will not come to this, I am prepared to reverse my decision if things do not get better. Doing so will require a concrete transition plan to ensure the safety of employees and detainees.”
And, anticipating the other options commissioners have, Blumert stated, “I will be watching the actions of the Trust very closely and working with Sheriff Johnson to identify solutions for operating the jail if dissolving the Trust becomes necessary.”
District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan talked with Free Press by phone Monday evening about why he voted to stay with the Jail Trust for now.
“I have been given assurances from the trustees that I’ve spoken to that they’re taking these concerns seriously, and they’re implementing a correction plan,” said Maughan.
He believes that the public will see news over the next couple of weeks of elements of that plan.
“I’m also mindful that the Sheriff [Tommie Johnson III] continues to support the Trust as a member of the Trust, but also as the de facto person who would receive the Trust if the jail Trust dissolved,” Maughan said.
Maughan continued, “I put a lot of stock in his wanting to keep it the way it is right now. That’s a mark distinction from the previous administration.”
P.D. Taylor was the Sheriff until his defeat by Johnson in the last election. Taylor was against the Trust taking over the jail.
District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey was contacted by phone and text message but did not respond by publication time.
Uncertainty and rumors
The uncertainty of having the item on the agenda in the first place made for a rumor-rich environment later in the day Monday.
Our reporter, Marty Peercy, began to get inquiries by the end of the day if the Jail Trust CEO and Jail Administrator Greg Williams had been fired or pushed into retirement.
Jail Trust Chair Tricia Everest strongly denied the rumors and said Williams had not been fired and she knew nothing of a resignation or even a resignation letter.
Everest referred to the rumors as “reckless.”
Last Updated April 5, 2021, 10:21 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor