4 minute read

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Tricia Everest, founding chair of the Oklahoma County Jail Trust, has resigned effective Friday, April 30.

The short resignation letter vaguely cited her confirmation as the Secretary of Public Safety with the State of Oklahoma as the reason. Below is the whole of her resignation letter.

Everest-resignation-FILE_1388

The Secretary of Public Safety position was created in 1986 along with several other governor’s cabinet positions even though Oklahoma government has a Public Safety Commissioner who carries out the heavy lifting of state law enforcement administration.

This comes at nearly the end of a turbulent year for the Jail Trust or officially called the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority where protesters disrupted meetings over what they said were violations of rules of public meetings and actions not in good faith.

Formation

The Jail Trust was created by the Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners in May 2019 in a unanimous vote.

Kevin Calvey who pushed the idea the hardest and Commissioner Brian Maughan were the most enthusiastic about taking the Oklahoma County Jail out of the hands of the Oklahoma County Sheriff and giving the Jail Trust control of the Jail. But, Commissioner Carrie Blumert also voted in favor. There are three commissioners for Oklahoma County.

To learn more about the discussion at the time: Oklahoma County Commissioners establish jail trust in unanimous vote

Struggling to form an administration

During the summer of 2019 the Jail Trust moved at a slow pace in setting up its operations. A jail administrator position separate from the Oklahoma County Sheriff to run the Jail was not decided upon until late August 2019.

To learn more: Jail Trust votes to establish Okla County Jail administrator position

After several conflicts over the status of ICE officers in the Jail on a regular basis and conflicts with then Sheriff P.D. Taylor. The Sheriff has a standing seat on the Jail Trust. After another month went by Taylor set a deadline on the Trust of January 1 to take over the Jail citing uncertainty of the Trust as the reason he was starting to lose good staff at the Jail.

To learn more: Sheriff — “take the jail,” Jail Trust Chair — “we don’t want to do this wrong”

Eventually, Taylor agreed to run the Jail until April 15 which gave the jail 11 months to take over from it’s founding. “Surely to God, you [Jail Trust] can take over and move forward in 11 months. If you cannot, then I question if you can ever,” said Taylor at the time.

As the Trust continued to secure money and make arrangements, the months added up. It wasn’t until early January 2020 that the Trust hired an administrator, Greg Williams, naming him the “CEO.” He officed at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce because the Sheriff was still expected to run the jail while Williams was making preparations.

By early March of 2020 and with the April 15 deadline looming, the Trust continued to make preparations for the takeover but didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry.

Handoff

To learn more: Jail Trust preps for Okla County Jail handoff but with little sense of urgency

Sheriff Taylor agreed to continue to run the Jail past the April 15 deadline as the Trust continued to try and find a way forward administratively. Eventually an actual handoff was planned and happened at the end of June after the Trust signed a historic lease agreement with County Commissioners.

As the Jail Trust took over the presence of ICE officers in the Oklahoma County Jail and County Commissioners using CARES Act funds for the Jail drew heavy criticism and disruptive protests throughout the remainder of the summer and into the fall of 2020.

Eventually the Trust received CARES Act funds to make upgrades to the Jail under the auspices of improving the health of the environment of the detainees.

To learn more: Jail Trust faces more protests while accepting CARES money

Public comment, procedure dog Trust

As the new year, 2021 arrived the Trust was still struggling with the public over procedure and public comments as deaths in the Jail continued to add up.

To learn more: Jail Trust ignores recent jail deaths — still at odds over public comment

Finally, by March, a new subcommittee was formed: the Detention Center Action Committee which has been moving at a much faster pace to find solutions to present to the Trust.

Hostage situation, detainee death

A major setback for the reputation of the Trust and Administrator Greg Williams was a hostage situation that developed at the end of March resulting in the death of a detainee who was shot by two Oklahoma City Police Officers who were a part of the team with Sherriff’s deputies to rescue the hostage, a detention officer. The officer was injured but survived.

To learn more: Hostage situation at Oklahoma County Jail results in one death


Marty Peercy contributed to this report.

Last Updated April 30, 2021, 6:33 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor