Tulsa Swears in New Sheriff, Continues Jail Expansion

TULSA, Okla. — Sheriff Vic Regalado was sworn in April 11 as the new sheriff of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, winning the general election to complete the remainder of former Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s term.

Glanz was forced to resign in September 2015 after Reserve Deputy Robert Bates shot a man selling guns in April 2015 and claimed he thought his gun was a taser. An internal affairs investigation quickly highlighted favoritism, falsification of records and lack of training within the sheriff’s office. Bates claimed he was a volunteer police officer, but was in fact not; he also took Sheriff Glanz on international cruises to the Bahamas and Mexico and on regular fishing trips as well as served as chairman of the sheriff’s election campaign, according to Daily Kos.

After being sworn in, Sheriff Regalado announced three staff appointments for the positions of undersheriff, adviser to the chief financial officer and public information officer, which will go to former KJRH Reporter Casey Roebuck. Michelle Robinette, who served as interim sheriff, is staying on as chief deputy, according to Tulsa World.

Despite the public scandal plaguing the sheriff’s office this past year, work continues on the renovation to the Tulsa County Jail. Four new jail pods — two of which will be devoted to mental health — are begin built on the jail’s back side. When completed later this year, the pods will create significant changes for operations, including a savings of $1.7 million a year in operating revenue, reported Tulsa World.

While the annual savings is supposed to be used for mental health programming and operating the four new pods, there is also hope that the savings might help fulfill any outstanding requests that have yet to be addressed due to the controversy. Tulsa World reported that when voters approved the jail two years ago, the idea was to get inmates with mental health problems the proper care they needed outside the jail, instead of warehousing them. In fact, one component would divert mentally ill individuals who come in contact with law enforcement officers directly to treatment facilities if there are no criminal complaints.

With a new sheriff overseeing jail operations, these plans might change; however, construction on the new 43,000-square-foot addition, designed by locally based Dewberry, is underway. The mental health unit, made up of two pods, will have a capacity of up to 98 beds and four levels of security classification. It will include office and counseling space as well as facilities for video court processing. A general population unit will make up the other two pods and have a capacity of up to 160 beds, allowing the current 1,650-bed jail flexibility for future operational programming under consideration.