After more than 40 years in law enforcement, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation director Ricky Adams has informed the OSBI Commission that he intends to retire, effective Dec. 1.
“I am enormously proud of the achievements made by our team the last four years,” Adams wrote to commissioners Monday. “The OSBI is in excellent condition with fine leaders who can continue our agency’s important work. Without question, we are leaving the OSBI in a better place than at any time in our 98-year history.”
Adams spoke with NonDoc this morning about what he sees as progress for the state’s “premiere intel and forensic investigative services organization.”
“When I came to the OSBI, I think I had about a 95 percent understanding of all that the bureau did and was involved in. That 5 percent, though, was a significant amount that [the agency] didn’t have the visibility on. Just the total volume of what the bureau dealt with and normal requests for services in the field for the investigations they are involved in — on all different types of crimes, and then also in the public corruption area,” Adams said. “Several years ago, there were 58 agents to try to deal with all of that for the agency. Thanks to the Legislature, we are up close to 100 now, which is dramatically better shape than what we were in four and a half years ago. That has helped us to blunt the strain of many of the requests that have come in.”
“We are in the process of hiring and expanding that unit. Operations don’t cease. We are continuing to work and make arrests,” Adams said. “By the end of this year, that unit is going to be dramatically increased, and that’s thanks to the Legislature and them recognizing the problem and helping us deal with it.”
Adams also prevailed in his position on another topic considered by the Legislature this year: a proposed consolidation of the OSBI, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs underneath the Department of Public Safety. The proposed reform would have granted OSBI the authority to initiate investigations without having to be requested by local law enforcement or district attorneys, but concerns about the governing commission and questions about potential politicization derailed the effort.
Adams opposed the 2022 unification proposal, although he had supported similar recommendations in the past and said Thursday that he favors unification but simply disagreed with the “model” pitched earlier this year. Still, he found himself at odds with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s public safety advisers who wanted to combine the state agencies and establish a specific public integrity division to work closely with the FBI and other federal agencies on corruption cases.
Asked if conflict over the unification concept played a role in his decision to retire, Adams said, “None whatsoever.” Asked if he ever felt political pressure from Stitt or his administration over the last four years, he said, “Absolutely not.”
“They’ve been professional the whole time I’ve been here,” Adams said.
Adams, a military veteran who previously served as chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and before that worked in the Elk City and Edmond police departments, oversaw OSBI agents who conducted several high-profile public corruption investigations during his tenure.
Those cases included the investigation into Ben Harris, David Chaney and Epic Youth Services, as well as the sexual misconduct allegations against former University of Oklahoma President David Boren and former OU Vice President Tripp Hall. (Harris and Chaney were charged recently by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. Boren and Hall were not charged following a review by Pat Ryan, who served as a contracted special prosecutor for that case.)
“When you look at the agency as a whole and what we have done in the public corruption arena, we have plussed that area up,” Adams said. “But we are still utilizing agents from many of our field units to help pick up the slack in many of the areas around the state.”
‘I have seen humanity at its worst and been inspired by humanity at its absolute best’
Dated Aug. 2, Adams’ resignation letter to commissioners appears below in its entirety:
Commissioners, after more than 42 years of service to the citizens of Oklahoma, my family and I have made the decision to retire. Serving as the director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has been the highlight of my career. I am enormously proud of the achievements made by our team the last four years. The OSBI is in excellent condition with fine leaders who can continue our agency’s important work. Without question, we are leaving the OSBI in a better place than at any time in our 98-year history. This achievement has been made possible by committed OSBI employees and your steadfast support of our mission. I want to thank the citizens of Oklahoma and this commission for the privilege of leading this superb organization.
Reflecting over the last 42 years, I can honestly say that my law enforcement and military careers have been a calling. I have seen humanity at its worst and been inspired by humanity at its absolute best. Serving as an Army major general, the chief of Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the director of the OSBI has been rewarding beyond my wildest dreams.
I wish to start terminal leave on Sept. 1, 2022, with an official retirement date of Dec. 1, 2022, and offer my assistance in transitioning my replacement once they are selected.
Director Ricky Adams
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
The OSBI Commission is tasked with hiring the agency’s director. The Commission’s next scheduled meeting is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17.