TCSO making changes after external audit

Posted at 6:35 PM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-04 07:03:45-05

One day after losing a federal lawsuit, the Tulsa Sheriff's administration is focused on making changes based on a massive audit the office received last week. 

The audit from the Community Safety Institute in Texas offers recommendations for improving almost every department and unit within the TCSO. 

On Thursday the office reported several items are being added to TCSO's 2017 fiscal year capital budget and strategic plan, so funds can be available to carry out some of the recommendations offered in the audit. 

The items on the list being budgeted for in 2017 include:

  • Purchasing a new records management system
  • Purchasing a new Internal Affairs software program
  • Investment in website and all ancillary social media platforms
  • Implementation of Electronic Policy and Training System
  • Considering hiring an Interim Jail Administrator
  • Conduct a community wide citizens survey
  • Create Office of Professional Standards and Compliance
  • To review the organizational structure to consider the assignment of key supervisory personnel to positions such as a Training Director, Records Manager, Open Records Manager, and Community Engagement Supervisor
  • Consider the creation of a Training Committee, Intelligence Committee, IT Committee, Reserve Deputy Committee and Community Advisory Committee. The makeup of these Committees will be selected by the Sheriff and may involve members of the community and private sector
  • Develop more community policing opportunities through a well designed program of community engagement activities

Some of the above items are already being acted on within the office's current budget.

Interim Sheriff Michelle Robinette said she is working on taking action on CSI's recommendations, in addition to the eight recommendations for changes handed to TCSO late last year from a grand jury. Some of the grand jury recommendations mirror CSI's audit. 

Robinette tells 2 Works For You she is also compiling a report of actions that have been taken to improve the office, changes that have been made and changes that still need to be made.

She plans to deliver that report to the sheriff Tulsa County voters elect in April. Her hope is that will allow for a smooth transition and let the office to continue to improve. 

On Thursday, Robinette also discussed a lawsuit settled on Wednesday. A jury ruled against the TCSO, over claims of sexual assault inside the county jail. 

The jury ordered the sheriff's office to pay the plaintiff $25,000. She claims she was sexually assaulted while a juvenile inmate in the county jail in 2010. 

Robinette oversaw the jail in 2010. 

"I'm responsible. I ran the jail," she said. "I made the decision. I'm the one that decided to put the females down in that part of the north wing. Absolutely. But I will stand by what we did."

Because of safety concerns, female juveniles are kept in a part of the jail's medical unit. The plaintiff claims a detention officer is the one that sexually assaulted her repeatedly over four months. 

Yesterday the jury found former Sheriff Stanley Glanz and Robinette were liable for the woman's rights being violated. Robinette said the damages awarded show the jury didn't believe the plaintiff's whole story. 

"They agreed something happened," Robinette said. "That is why she got the minimal amount that she did. She didn't get a larger amount - because they didn't agree it happened as she claimed."

The interim sheriff said cameras have now been installed in the medical unit, where the female juveniles are kept.

During testimony in court, jail staff said they would still want their family kept there if in the jail, as they believe it is a safe area.

The interim sheriff echoed their testimony.

"Today, would I still put her there? Absolutely," Robinette said. "That is still the safest place in the jail. I can't predict the human nature of one officer, when there are no precursors to that behavior."

On Thursday, Robinette said Tulsa County leaders haven't decided whether the jury's verdict will be appealed. 

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