Chris Amason
A Cleveland County Sheriff's Office vehicle sits outside of the Cleveland County Courthouse on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (Blake Douglas)

Chris Amason, a former commander on the Norman Police Department’s investigations division, has won the Cleveland County sheriff Republican runoff.

After receiving more than 45 percent of the vote in the June 30 Republican primary, which featured four Republican candidates, Amason currently has more than 70 percent of the runoff vote, with half of Cleveland County’s 84 precincts reporting. Unofficial results are published on the Oklahoma State Election Board.

Amason’s opponent, Rick Adkins, serves as a lieutenant in the Cleveland County Sheriff’s office and notably distributed campaign materials that claimed he would “send the liberal elites running for cover” if elected.

Amason will move on to the Nov. 3 general election, where he will face the race’s only non-Republican candidate, independent Kelly Owings. Owings has previously held law enforcement positions, including as a reserve deputy in Cleveland County and a reserve officer in Lexington. While he does not appear to have an online campaign presence, Owings has a personal Facebook page.

Background on Chris Amason

Amason retired from the NPD after the primary election. In an interview with NonDoc, Amason said his time serving on the Norman police force allowed him to to see training and leadership opportunities he “would not have any other place” which prepared him well for the office of sheriff.

Cleveland County Sheriff
Retired Norman Police commander Chris Amason took 45.5 percent of the votes in the July 30 primary. (Provided)

“Norman Police Department has a stellar reputation across the state,” Amason said. “I am going to be proud to have served there.”

Amason said he intends to expand the presence of law enforcement in both rural and urban communities in the county if elected, and he said he opposes the movement to defund police departments nationwide.

“What I’ve seen with the outcry of the public, I don’t believe that the majority of the citizens believe the police should be defunded,” Amason said. “Now can we do things in a better way? Absolutely — I think that the charge of law enforcement is always to find a way to do things better.”

Amason also said he will also aim to hire and retain deputies, adding that the recent calls for defunding police departments in some communities may be discouraging potentially qualified people from seeking deputy positions at all.

“It is very important to have the right people in those positions — and they’re there for the right reasons,” Amason told NonDoc. “With the climate that we have today, it’s probably keeping a lot of people that would ordinarily opt to serve the community and keep them from even applying right now.”

(Editor’s note: This story was co-published with the OU Daily.)