Ottawa County Sheriff encourages residents to voice concerns after he says he was told to cut staff

County commissioner says they didn't say to cut staff

OTTAWA COUNTY, Okla. – The Ottawa County sheriff has been dealing with budget concerns since last year. Sheriff Jeremy Floyd has cut back on staff and pay, and the commission last week said they would start holding him financially responsible for going over his budget.

Floyd says because of those cuts, it’s been more and more necessary for him and his undersheriff Dan Cook to do more and more patrols.

He says right now, he only has four deputies, two dispatchers, a detective, two full time and two part-time desk clerks, and six jailers.

He also has nine reserve deputies, but he says they are unpaid, and can only be used for patrols when they volunteer to do so.

Meaning they only have one deputy to cover the whole county at a time, and they don’t have enough staff to re-open the jail, even after repairs are complete from an October fire.

He says on Monday he was told to cut back even more.

“Undersheriff Dan Cook came in and advised he needed to visit with me about some concerns he had,” says Floyd. “And one of his concerns was that it was brought to his attention that we needed to probably cut our full-time deputies in order to make payroll.”

Floyd says that that would leave the county with only himself and the undersheriff to do patrols unless they utilize the local tribal law enforcement even more than they already do.

“I don’t think it’s fair for the county to rely on the tribes to cover county law enforcement when we should be doing that ourselves,” says Floyd.

KOAM asked Floyd if he knew who told Cook that they would need to cut back.

“I do, but at this point, I don’t want to release that information. For the simple fact, it was a commissioner. Talking to legal advice last night, and with the social media that basically called us liars for saying that. I don’t think it’s comfortable for me to release that information because that’s probably gonna be pending some of the legal matters that we’re gonna be addressing,” Floyd says in reply.

KOAM also reached out to the Ottawa County Commissioners.

Commissioner Mike Furnas says he didn’t know about any comment that was made.

We haven’t heard back from Commissioner Russell Earls.

Commissioner Chad Masterson tells us in an on-camera interview that’s not what was said.

“What was said, and I’m finding out cause I was not in this, and it was said in passing, that there have been some counties that had to cut back to just reserve deputies and the sheriff. It was not implicated that Ottawa County was wanting to do that,” says Masterson.” We in no way want to lay off any full-time deputies at all. We do not want Ottawa County to be a lawless county.”

KOAM also asked Masteron who made the comment, and why.

“No, I do not know who made that comment. Like I said, I’ve heard it from more than one person that that was not implied,” says Masterson.

“The thought of or even suggesting that is not even right with me. That would be like me saying, okay, well if I’m gonna lay off all my deputies, then you guys need to lay off all your county workers. If you want to be fair about it,” says Floyd.

Masterson also says Floyd has more funding this year than in years past, and more than past sheriffs.

According to county records, for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the sheriff’s budget was $1,700,000.00, with $1,356,676,05 in his payroll account (called personal services.)

For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, his total budget is $1,779,826.40, with $988,942.49 in his payroll account.

Floyd says that 400-thousand dollar difference for payroll is making a big impact.

“How am I gonna make that shortfall up? And again, I’m not asking for tons of deputies. I’m not asking for a lot of stuff. I’m only asking for what I feel would be a reasonable amount that would be sufficient to protect the county,” says Floyd. “So to me, it’s important that if people want adequate coverage, they need to voice that so we can have the funding to provide adequate coverage.”

Masterson says the commission is working with Floyd on his budget so that they can get everything worked out.

“This just didn’t start last night. You know, it’s been going on for quite some time. And we’ve always worked it out, and we’re gonna work it out this time also,” says Masterson.

Floyd also told us the two replacement employees still haven’t been paid for work they did in December.

Masterson says that happened because the “paperwork procedures” weren’t followed. But, he says if the commission has to lift Floyd’s payroll restriction so those people can be paid, they will.