Published February 3, 2016 by Corey Jones (Tulsa World)
A candidate for Tulsa County sheriff has lodged a complaint with the acting sheriff alleging an employee of the office violated policies regarding political activity.
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Randy Pierce late Tuesday filed a complaint with acting Sheriff Michelle Robinette about alleged actions of reserve program coordinator Sgt. Paula Hite.
Pierce, who is one of 10 candidates seeking to fill the remainder of Stanley Glanz’s term in a special election this spring, provided the Tulsa World with a message he says Hite sent to all of the reserve deputies Tuesday morning.
In the message, Hite reminds the reserves of their meeting that night. She also writes, candidate Tom Helm “has invited everyone to the ALOFT Hotel for a meet and greet.”
Sheriff’s Office policy regarding political activity states, “Use of county vehicles, county money, county property or county time for political activities is prohibited.”
“We’re looking into (the complaint), but without reviewing it in-depth at this point I can’t tell you where we’re going to from here with it,” Robinette told the World. “It is being looked at; we do have policies speaking to political activity while on duty.”
Robinette was in one-on-one meetings with media outlets much of Wednesday, making her first public comments to reporters since becoming interim sheriff in mid-January.
Helm, in a statement to the World, said he is proud that he has “a lot of support” within the Tulsa law-enforcement community.
“I invited members of the TCSO Reserve Program to meet with me,” Helm said. “They were not on county time and we met on private property. I make no apologies for this.”
Pierce, in his complaint, alleges that Hite violated policy by using a database of reserve deputies to message about a campaign event, promoting a campaign event on a county phone or computer and while on duty, as well as using her status of commanding the reserve program to promote a campaign event.
He also says Hite is actively promoting Helm on social media. However, that appears to be in line with policies allowed unless she is doing so on county time or via county property.
“All the above-mention violated Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Policy & Procedures and is ethically wrong doing by a supervisor over the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Reserves,” Pierce wrote. “This was another negative incident to our office, the reserve program, our employees, our community and all the candidates running for Tulsa County Sheriff, at a time when we are attempting to regain the public’s trust back.”
Pierce also notes he was called into a captain’s office Jan. 29 at Robinette’s request and questioned about violating the same policy for a radio interview he had done the previous day.
Pierce stated he had an approved vacation day slip signed by Robinette for that day and that his time sheet reflects that day as a vacation day. He also said he took his privately owned vehicle to the interview.Follow @FortySixNews