Sheriff John Whetsel and the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office have continually made community outreach a priority, understanding that teaching crime-prevention to all of our citizens, regardless of cultural, socio-economic, or racial differences, can promote safety. Over the past several years, law enforcement all over the United States has continually battled a cultural wall of distrust. Some residents are continually victimized, and many of them adamently refuse to report the crime to their local law enforcement agencies. Whether that ideology comes from dealings with corrupt law enforcement officers in other countries, or from the fear that local officers may focus only on residency status or immigration issues, the apprehensiveness of any people to report crime is a problem that absolutely has to be addressed and corrected.
Working with dedicated Community Services deputies and staff on the front line, the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office has been able to witness, first-hand, the shift that happens when we pull down those walls and directly address the issues that have been keeping citizens from developing a healthy relationship with their law enforcement agencies. More crime is being reported. Members of the Hispanic and Asian communities have developed trusting relationships with law enforcement officers and staff, and are getting access to more available resources. It's not just about preventing crime. It's about making sure our communities know about resources and how to access them, can learn how to keep their families safe, and can trust their law enforcement officials... no matter their race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or gender.
Law enforcement is a business, just like everything else. Economic shifts have drastic effects on agencies, resulting in things like staffing shortages, budget issues, holds on updated equipment, and assigning officers to perform only essential functions. Community outreach gets put on hold in a lot of these instances, but reducing community outreach does not make our jobs easier. Reduction of safety education, crime-prevention, and one-on-one interaction with your citizens can have devastating results. Pulling community service officers also reduces the law enforcement presence in neighborhoods, which can have a direct result on the amount of crime that is allowed to take place, and many times, goes unreported.
There is no situation where law enforcement's role is purely responsive.
By maintaining a healthy law enforcement presence in all of our communities, continuing to teach people to take preventative actions, we actually may reduce the number of reports we send officers to take, because people never become victims in the first place.
School Resource Officer (SRO) Program
Formed at the direction of Sheriff John Whetsel in April 2000, the
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office School Resource Officer (SRO) Program
exists to place sworn full-time deputies on school campuses within
Oklahoma County. In addition to providing for the safety and security of
their assigned campus, SRO's routinely organize and host classes within
their school districts to address age critical topics such as traffic
safety, internet safety and drug/alcohol abuse prevention. SRO deputies
also coordinate student outreach and involvement opportunities with the
Special Olympics and other non-profit organizations.
Oklahoma County currently has SRO deputies assigned to the Jones,
Millwood, Santa Fe and Deer Creek School Districts as well as Summit
Middle School in Edmond and the Francis-Tuttle Technology Centers in
Oklahoma City. Under the leadership of Sheriff John Whetsel the SRO
program has received numerous awards including the National Sheriff's
Association Medal of Valor. The SRO program continues to grow while
focusing on its core value of providing pro-active on campus law
enforcement and mentorship.
Oklahoma County TRIAD
The Oklahoma County TRIAD program is a partnership between the Sheriff's
Office, local police departments, and seniors in the community who are
ready to be proactive in there own safety. It aims to educate seniors
and their families on the dangers that surround them, and provide
valuable insight on things they can do to keep themselves from becoming
a victim of crime. People over 55 are targeted specifically because of
their age, based on a few general assumptions: physical vulnerability
and financial means. Whether that is the case or not, our seniors can be
taught safety tips that are useful in all areas of life. The Oklahoma
County TRIAD program aims at developing information and methods of
delivery that will best benefit this amazing generation of people.
Under the leadership of Sheriff John Whetsel, TRIAD was the recipient of
The State of Oklahoma DHS 2008 "Best Practices Award" while being the
largest program in the State as well as one of the most active programs
in the entire nation. Through regular monthly meetings and an aggressive
schedule of public and community outreach appearances, Oklahoma County
TRIAD continues to grow and better serve our senior citizens.
Sheriff Whetsel is a strong advocate for pro-active Law Enforcement and continues to make the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office accessible and responsive to the needs of our citizens.