Oklahoma County commissioners voted unanimously today to create a trust that will have operational and financial oversight over the Oklahoma County Jail.
The final vote — viewable in the video embedded above — is the culmination of months of discussion and meetings from the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council and comes despite objections from some in the law enforcement community.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 155 president Larry Grant said his organization opposes the jail trust because of uncertainty over employee status.
“We want to go on record as officially opposing any kind of jail trust,” Grant told commissioners Wednesday. “The reason is nobody can tell us what will happen to the employees of the jail.”
CJAC president Timothy Tardibono said discussions with benefits administrators at the county point to an easy resolution of questions concerning employee benefits and status.
“There is a state statute that makes clear an employee of the trust continues to keep their retirement benefits if they are a county employee,” he said.
Commissioner Kevin Calvey said he has not intended to change employee and benefit status.
“As far as the employment benefit question, remember at some point you have to trust the trustees,” he said. “You can’t mandate everything. This is kind of like the constitution of the trust. The bylaws and all that stuff will come later.”
Trustees appointed by commissioners
Both Calvey and Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor were appointed to the newly created nine-member trust Wednesday. That could make for some acrimonious meetings in the future.
Calvey and Taylor have publicly sparred over the creation of a trust, with Calvey accusing Taylor of mismanaging the county jail and Taylor accusing Calvey of grandstanding.
Commissioner Carrie Blumert voted against Calvey’s appointment to the jail trust for that reason.
“I cannot — in good faith, in the best interest of Oklahoma County — vote yes to send the volatile relationship between our sheriff and Commissioner Calvey to represent us on the trust,” she said.
Commissioners approved four at large members of the trust. That group includes former Oklahoma City police chief M.T. Berry, former assistant state attorney general Tricia Everest and Oklahoma City philanthropist Sue Ann Arnall.
In addition, each member of the Oklahoma County Commission has one appointee. Calvey selected former Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb. Blumert selected public defender Francie Ekwerekwu, and Maughan selected former state Sen. Ben Brown. All were unanimously approved.