By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer
Two candidates squaring off for Wagoner County sheriff differ on the current administration’s effectiveness.
Sheriff Bob Colbert said he had a 10-year plan in mind when he was elected in 2008. Four years later, he said he’s ahead of schedule.
“I really feel like we’re a couple years ahead of where we thought we’d be,” Colbert said.
Broken Arrow Democrat James Carver said he believes “an atmosphere of waste” has developed within the sheriff’s office, detracting from Colbert’s ability to do his job effectively.
“The sheriff has lost sight of what is most important in our community,” Carver said. “It’s time that we start putting our citizens first.”
Colbert said the long-term goal when he took office was to have 40 deputies in the field.
Colbert said a recent hire gave the office 21 deputies.
“We had 11 deputies here when I started,” Colbert said. “We have four investigators now, and when I started we had one.”
Colbert breezed through the Republican primary, grabbing 70 percent of the vote and knocking off challengers Allen Street and Tim Guinn.
Colbert pointed to burglary and drug arrests the office has made and said as long as they keep showing the county commissioners results, good things will keep happening.
“I think we’re well on our way,” Colbert said.
Another of Colbert’s goals is to further not just the education of staff already hired, but of incoming employees as well. He said he’d like to one day require an associate’s degree for his deputies.
“Another goal, and this is long term, but something that we’re looking into, is replacing the jail,” Colbert said. “It’s not that old, but there were just a lot of poor decisions made during construction. It’s obvious law enforcement wasn’t involved in the construction.”
Colbert said one option is to build a single-story 300-person facility between Wagoner and Coweta, which would house inmates and juvenile offenders.
“Right now, we’re paying other people to take care of (the juveniles,)” Colbert said. “With a capable facility, we could take care of them ourselves and not have to pay other people to do it for us.”
Carver said he has more than 15 years with the Coweta Police Department, Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office Drug Task Force.
Carver said he would focus on ridding the county of drugs by increasing deputy training and promoting cooperation between local law enforcement.
He’d also increase deputy patrols by re-working the current duty schedule to make it more effective.
“I love Wagoner County, and this is the only place I ever want to live,” Carver said. “But we need to do more to protect the people in our community.”
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.