Friday, August 17, 2018
BREAKING NEWS

Tulsa 9.12 Project Tulsa County Sheriff Candidate Voter Guide
Tom Helm

Tom Helm, Republican, 43, a retired 20-year veteran of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.Helm Campaign/FortySix News

Tom Helm, Republican, 43, a retired 20-year veteran of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

Party Affiliation: Republican

Previous offices held: None

Occupation: Police Officer

Current Employment: Agent-Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office

Previous Employment: Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office-Retired / Grand River Dam Authority-Superintendent of Police

Education: 127 Hours in Business Administration

Community ties: Memorial Baptist Church where I serve on the Missions Committee and Preschool/Masonic Lodge/Lived in Tulsa County since 1993

Endorsements: 

1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?

I have successfully led and expanded task forces to address some of the most significant issues addressing public safety in Tulsa County, including narcotics, violent crime, immigration and homeland security. As the lead of the Homeland Security Task Force, I have attacked the monetary flow to criminal enterprises across the border, including Mexico, China, and Pakistan, where they are often tied to terrorism. I will embrace the same strategy to tackle issues at the sheriff’s office, such as mental health treatment in the jail. Through partnerships and best utilizing resources, we can positively contribute to safety in a cost-effective manner.

2. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?

I am the only candidate who can enter office and make a difference on day one. I am the only candidate who has performed all functions of the Sheriff’s Office, including extensive experience in jail operations, training, and internal affairs. Coupled with administrative experience as the Superintendent of the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department where I administered budgets and my leadership experience under Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, I am the only candidate to perform the duties of a sheriff with past experience of successfully overseeing a law enforcement agency. I am uniquely qualified and separate from the rest.

3. How would you control the proliferation of the 1033 federal program that offers
military equipment and assets to Police departments and the over militarization of
police?

It is my belief that law enforcement agencies must get away from the image of an occupying force. Part of this must be done in properly evaluating the need for equipment through the 1033 program. Equipment must contribute both to public safety and offer cost saving to civilian equivalents. An example of this is armored vehicles. In the civilian market, vehicles cost up to a half million dollars. Through the 1033 program, they can be obtained for less than $50,000 and provide for life saving services and is a responsible method of increasing safety at a reduced cost.

4. Since the Sheriff is the prime administrator of the Sheriff’s Department and the Tulsa County Jail, the Sheriff is responsible for creating policies and procedures, budgeting the department’s resources– monetary, human, and equipment, and overseeing personnel, what have you done to educate yourself to take on the complex administrative and budgetary issues of the Sheriff’s office?

In order to govern the jail, I have attended Jail Trust Authority Meetings, BOCC Meetings, visited with the interim administration and engaged elected officials, including County Commissioners, the Court Clerk, Assessor and Treasurer. Because of my understanding of jail operations and administrative experience, I have identified a path to operating the jail within the budget. Additionally, I have identified alternatives to incarceration including mental health diversion and programs such as Veteran’s Court to reduce recidivism and cost by lowering the population. I am the only candidate with experience in administering a law enforcement budget and I stay within those budgets.

5. Sadly the action of a volunteer led to the death of a man and the consequences have been divisive for our community and have cost our taxpayers literally millions of dollars. Will you use volunteer officers? How will they be used?

Reserve programs demonstrate their value, including those in Tulsa County. By assisting at the Tulsa State Fair, roadside safety checks, and other roles, Reserve Deputies allow more officers to stay on the streets. Not only do Reserve Deputies contribute to safety, they are a force multiplier that contributes thousands of man-hours to the benefit of Tulsa County citizens. Under my administration, the reserve program would continue, but first it needs restructuring to ensure proper oversight and accountability. Additionally, I would elevate training and continuing education to the same level as full-time deputies. The reconstituted program will exceed the statutory requirements.

6. Explain your plans to gain the support and cooperation of the men and women currently working in the Sheriff’s Department? What will you do to rebuild morale in this department?

I share the Grand Jury’s recognition of the employees, who, more than anyone, desire the Sheriff eradicate cronyism and prevent failures to ensure professionalism and adherence to procedures. I will institute a commitment to the proper role of an unfettered review process that not only helps to earn public trust; but also, gives confidence and support to employees dedicated to their mission to protect and serve. Mine will be a department that communicates with and respects employees while providing training, fairness, leadership and transparency. By setting high standards, caring about employees and fostering community relationships, public trust will be restored.

7. Since the Sheriff is an elected position with Constitutional powers to intervene between citizens and the Federal Government, what are your views regarding the conditions, if any, under which such intervention would be appropriate? What action, if any would you take if Federal agents came into Tulsa County to enforce Federal gun laws?

As Sheriff, I will uphold my Oath of Office, including the Second Amendment, and will not tolerate any federal incursion where gun control aimed at disarming the lawful citizen is the goal. Additionally, I would prohibit my Deputies from enforcing any rule, law, or command that is unconstitutional that may come from the federal level. I am a strong believer in the Second Amendment and feel that our right to keep and bear arms should never be infringed upon and I will not turn law-abiding citizens into criminals by enforcing useless gun control legislation.

8. Explain what changes if any you would make in the handling of persons in the county jail who are mentally ill?

Gone are the days where the only options were making an arrest or doing nothing. If a person with mental illness is first receiving treatment after they have been placed in jail, the mental health system has already failed. Under my direction, I will best utilize public and private resources to identify those with mental illness and empower Deputies to use discretion in finding alternatives to arrest that better serve all of our citizens. For inmates who cannot be diverted, I will ensure housing and personnel are available to provide their constitutional and to treat their mental illness.

9. The Oklahoma economy has weakened and government revenues are down. Since the Sheriff serves as one of the eight members of the Budget Board for Tulsa County, what specifically would you propose to deal with a shortfall in County revenues?

I believe I can operate the jail within the budget despite the downturn by ensuring dollars earmarked for the operation of the jail are actually used for the operation of the jail, instead of supporting positions under the guise of being jail related. Savings can be increased by embracing programs to divert those with mental health issues away from jail, expanding programs for options to sentencing, and working with judges to establish alternatives for “fail to pay” inmates. As Sheriff, I will not support a new tax and am committed to eliminating waste and best utilizing the existing tax dollars.

10. How will voters’ best distinguish between you and your opponent(s)?

I am the only candidate with leadership experience in virtually every facet of TCSO operations. I’ve worked in the jail and led task forces responsible for Homeland Security, Immigration, Detective Division, Special Operations, and Internal Affairs.

I am the candidate whose management training best taught the skills necessary for management of the diversity of TCSO. That schooling included Institute for Law Enforcement Administration, DEA Leadership and the DOJ-Community Policing Initiative.

Finally, as the former Superintendent of Police for GRDA, I’m the only candidate with proven management experience.

In short, I am the only candidate fully prepared to serve as Sheriff.

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