To help the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office cope with budget problems, officials on Monday announced the formation of a nonprofit foundation to help raise private dollars toward providing better law enforcement services.
The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Foundation hopes to raise $300,000 as soon as possible for its first two priorities: obtaining body cameras for patrol deputies and establishing a citizen advisory board.
Tim Harris, a former Tulsa County district attorney, is serving as foundation chairman. He told reporters that for 16 years as district attorney, he consistently had to scramble to operate his office with steadily shrinking budgets.
“This is an opportunity for the people of Tulsa County to step up and help the sheriff deliver the kind of law enforcement product that he knows the people want,” Harris said. “I’m unabashedly in favor of going to the private sector.
“We just don’t have enough tax dollars, nor do we want to raise taxes in an effort to try to make this happen. So this will be a vehicle through which people can help public safety.”
Harris acknowledged the prior Sheriff’s Office administration under Stanley Glanz struggled with allegations of favoritism and special treatment for some personnel. That is why the foundation will listen to suggestions from the sheriff but still exist as its own entity, Harris said.
The foundation’s board of trustees will vet every dollar that passes through, he said.
“This foundation is separate and distinct from the Sheriff’s Office,” Harris said. “And we did that specifically so that no one could point fingers and say that anybody’s going to get any kind of special treatment.”
About $200,000 will be earmarked for body cameras for the approximately 50 patrol deputies for three years, with the remaining $100,000 to be directed toward a Citizen Engagement Advisory Board.
Sheriff Vic Regalado said a structure hasn’t been devised yet for the citizen advisory panel. The $100,000 will go toward a salary for the panel’s director, as well as to pay for advisory board members to undergo law enforcement training so they better understand the mechanics of the profession.
The concept of the advisory board will be for the community to offer regular input on policies, procedures and best practices, Regalado said.
“We’re not looking for a quick fix,” he said. “We’re looking for long-term solutions — programs that will be here long after I’m gone.”
Members of the foundation’s board of trustees are:
• Frazier Henke, president and CEO of American Bank and Trust Co. in Tulsa.
• Bob Jack, retired senior vice president of Manhattan Construction.
• Rebecca Marks-Jimerson, a supporter of diversity and equality through administrative roles at higher education institutions and community organizations.
• Jon McGrath, a railroad contractor and president of McGrath LLC in Tulsa.