One year after dozens of Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation employees sent the OSBI Commission a letter criticizing director Stan Florence for “ineffective leadership,” The Oklahoman’s Nolan Clay has reported that the longtime lawman will be stepping down.
The agency’s governing body, the OSBI Commission, is set to meet at 10 a.m. Feb. 20 and would likely address any pending personnel changes then. A call and a text message sent to OSBI public information director Jessica Brown went unreturned Friday.
But a call transferred to the OSBI “director’s office” Friday at 4 p.m. was answered by a woman who declined to identify herself beyond the name “Beth.” She said Florence was out of the office.
“I can’t comment on that,” she said when asked about The Oklahoman’s report of Florence’s potential resignation. “I do expect to see him Monday. I expect to see him in the same capacity I’ve been seeing him in.”
But Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville) said he has heard that Florence submitted a resignation letter.
“I’ve heard that he has resigned,” said Cleveland, who has been a critic of Florence. “I wish him all the best.”
Cleveland said Florence had faced criticism from employees.
“I would say there have been some issues there with employees. He was facing no confidence within the agency,” Cleveland said. “There’s been a lot of issues with him going back to July when he agreed Gary Jones could do a performance audit. But after he agreed, every month there’s been one excuse after the other.”
On Jan. 30, 2017, dozens of OSBI employees signed a letter sent to the OSBI Commission that expressed concern over a litany of claims, including mold in the agency’s Lawton laboratory and the accidental discharge of a firearm that hit an executive vehicle.
“Ongoing medical issues have surfaced over several years from employees who worked in this facility. From 2004 to July 2014, six out of 31 employees (nearly 20 percent) assigned to the Southwest Regional Office & Laboratory were diagnosed with cancer, two of whom succumbed to their illness,” employees wrote in the 2017 letter. “Other employees were plagued with numerous health conditions, including hair falling out in small patches as well as asthmatic breathing problems. (…) Director Florence ignored these distressing reports and would take no action to close the facility.”
The employees charged that Florence waited “almost two years from the initial mold assessment to close the building” in fall 2016.
“There is evidence that shows the director was informed and well aware that employees who worked within the building were at an elevated risk for serious health issues,” they wrote. “To make matters worse, director Florence refused to go into the building on more than one occasion when visiting employees, choosing instead to meet agents at an off-site location.”
Employees also questioned the thoroughness of an investigation into the accidental discharge of a firearm that resulted in damage to an OSBI vehicle.
“Director Florence is well aware of this incident as he is currently driving the vehicle,” the employees wrote.
The full letter appears below:
Stan Florence resignation news for second straight year
This is not the first time Stan Florence’s purported resignation has made headlines. Florence reportedly told OSBI employees that he was resigning in early 2017 — after the letter was submitted — only to withdraw his resignation days later.
“We’ve had some challenging times with the budget and things of that nature,” Florence told The Oklahoman’s Nolan Clay at the time. “It just seemed that perhaps new leadership would be appropriate so I made that known and made an offer and they asked me to continue in my capacity.”
Prior to becoming OSBI director on Nov. 1, 2010, Florence served Grady County as sheriff and the city of Duncan as a police officer. His OSBI online bio notes that he received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice management and ethics at Mid-American Bible College and received a master’s degree in criminal justice from East Central University.