Editors Note: The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office sent this news release today touting activities of the new sheriff. It is shared here (with a couple of typos corrected) for your information.
Oklahoma City (Nov. 15, 2017) – In the first eight months since taking over the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff P.D. Taylor has implemented numerous initiatives and made many changes to address concerns inside the jail and out. These changes address safety and financial issues in all departments of the sheriff’s office.
- Polycom video system – The new video system was installed in receiving and allows the opportunity for preliminary hearings before judges as well as access to outside agencies to visit with inmates. When utilized to its full capability, this will lower the number of inmate transports to and from the courthouse creating a safer environment for staff and those working in the courthouse. The system can also be used by law enforcement agencies across the state and country to video conference with an inmate so they do not have to send their staff to the jail.
- Own Recognizance and Conditional Bond Release – We’ve partnered with members of the criminal justice system in Oklahoma County to allow for courthouse staff to be onsite seven days a week and evenings Thursday to Sunday to help facilitate the release of inmates on OR and CBR Bonds. Having the staff onsite allows them to quickly identify inmates who qualify for these types of releases. This will help keep the jail population down.
- Mental Health Initiative – Three dedicated jail staff members are directly connected with the Department of Mental Health. Their sole job is to identify inmates with mental issues and connect them with NorthCare Mental Health staff. This partnership allows us to identify those inmates and get the inmate into the mental health system faster, providing continuity of care.
- Department of Health – Each day we provide the Department of Health a list of new inmate book-ins. This allows our staff to quickly identify inmates who are taking prescription medications and the types of prescription medications an inmate may require. By being proactive in this area, the inmate can receive better and quicker care for any pre-existing conditions they may have.
- Jail Pod Remodeling – Because of the initiatives undertaken with OR and CBR Bonds, Mental Health and the VERA recommendations implemented by local law enforcement, we have reduced our population to below 2,000 for the first time in many years. This allows us the opportunity to close and rehabilitate jail pods. Those efforts include fixing holes in walls, replacing cell light systems with new heavy duty light fixtures, much needed electrical and plumbing work, as well as new paint. Cell locks and doors are also being repaired as needed. So far, work crews have rehabilitated four of our 28 pods with more scheduled to start work on.
- Updated Kitchen – The current food service operations have been running out of the Sally Port since February 2017, while the basement kitchen undergoes mold remediation. We are on schedule to reopen the kitchen during the first part of 2018.
- Security Cameras – During the past 8 months we have added roughly 50 new security cameras inside the jail to key areas.
- Training – The Training Division has secured a Master SERT (Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team) Instructors Course to be held in early 2018. This course will ensure OCSO Policy and Training Best Practices are consistent with nationally accepted industry standards in dealing with special situations in the Oklahoma County Jail.
- Drug Room – We have installed a new drug testing room in the Sally Port which provides law enforcement agencies a safe and secure area to test narcotics after transporting an arrestee to the jail.
- Drug and Contraband K9 – Through a donation from Oklahoma City Law firm Johnson & Biscone, the OCSO is securing a Drug and Contraband K9 Officer for use at the jail. This K9’s sole use will be to locate illegal narcotics and contraband in the jail. This will make the jail safer for staff as well as inmates.
- New Jail Receiving Design –Detention center senior staff put together a new design which makes the book-in process much smoother. This concept was designed and built over the past year. It allows for a smoother and safer transition as inmates go through the entire book-in process.
- Agency-Wide Committees – Several committees, made up of employees, were formed to find ways to improve morale as well as ways to raise employee retention. We have already seen a dramatic increase in employee retention over the past few months.
- Supervisory Staff Meeting – Sheriff Taylor has mandated a monthly meeting for senior staff to report the progress of these initiatives as well as encourage the discussion of new initiatives to improve all areas of the OCSO.
- Monthly Budget Report – The OCSO provides the Oklahoma County Budget Board with a monthly budget report on the operations of the jail. This is done to make sure we are operating in a fiscally responsible way and not exceeding our budget projections.
- Raises – Sheriff Taylor has given a $100 a month raise to Clerical staff, Detention Officers and Detention Corporals. This is the first raise many of these employees have seen in years. Steps are also being taken to be able to give raises to staff in other low paying positions of the office. Those steps will take time but we are confident we will get there.
- Overtime – Detention staff have the opportunity to work overtime each month to help supplement their salary and increase available staff levels.
- Supervision – Supervisors schedules have been adjusted to bring more supervision to jail operations 24 hours a day seven days a week.
“By lowering the population, identifying inmates with mental issues, quicker releases and repairing the pods, we can take a lot of stress out of the building, inmates and staff,” said P.D. Taylor, Oklahoma County Sheriff. “This will have a positive effect on all aspects of the jail, including increased safety and higher morale for everyone. The ultimate goal is to bring the jail inmate population down to 1,200 a day. I believe implementing all of these initiatives, and with help from the many agencies we serve and work with, we can achieve our goal.”
During the first part of November, the daily book-in average was 97 people per day. During the same time period in 2016, the average number was 124 book-ins per day.