Tulsa Police Department’s Scott Walton told Tulsa Today that the day is coming when he will hang up his Tulsa Police badge and make a run to pin a new badge on his shirt – that of the Rogers County Sheriff.
Walton, a twenty-five year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department, is most widely known as the face of the TPD and the Crime Stoppers organization. With nearly daily appearances on local news broadcasts and a frequent source to Tulsa Today and other area news outlets, Walton is no stranger to the public spotlight.
Current Rogers County Sheriff, Jerry Prather, is stepping down after three terms in office.
Sheriff Prather said that he’s seen a lot of changes in Rogers County since becoming the county’s top cop. “When I first took office there was only about a fifty-six thousand population in Rogers County and now it’s up to about eight-six thousand. Now, just in our primary jurisdiction [unincorporated areas of Rogers County] there are about fifty-six thousand people.”
Prather, a four decade veteran of law enforcement said, “…next year, when I retire, it’ll be 40 years and it’s probably time to go.” He said his retirement is well planned with lots of “fishing, traveling, and time with [his] six grandkids and [his wife] Myrtle.”
Prather points to his accomplishments while serving as sheriff that include seeing the construction of a ten million dollar jail that was long past due. “When I came in there were only three patrol cars. Most of the deputies were driving around in their own cars. Now there’s eighteen cars and I’ve only got about five deputies using their own cars.” Prather also said his jail staff has improved from a dismal 13 to the current 33 members of the jail staff. “We have a 200 inmate jail,” he said contrasting the jail that he inherited.
“There have been a lot of improvements made here in Rogers County and there’s still some left to make,” Prather said.
When asked what he would like to see continue in the next administration, Prather said that he likes how his staff “goes the extra mile” to help citizens with their needs. “Instead of just dismissing a citizen when they have things like civil questions, we try to help them out instead of just saying, ‘you need a lawyer.’ It’s that kind of sense of community I’d like to see continue.”
Still, there are needs the sheriff’s office has that Prather says he’d like to see met. “We still have a big staffing shortage,” he said. “We’re still behind the curve when it comes to the number of deputies to the number of citizens. We only have one deputy for every 3500 people.”
Walton, a lifelong Rogers County citizen, said he wants to help his community through the role of Sheriff. “I want to give something back to Rogers County,” he said.
Reflecting back on his career with the Tulsa Police Department, Walton says he’s gained a mass of experience. “I’ve done everything in this department from being a school resource officer to criminal investigations and street crimes to narcotics, K-9 to Mounted Patrol and now as the public information officer and coordinator for the Crime Stoppers program.” The Tulsa Crime Stoppers program achieved the status of the most successful Crime Stoppers program in the nation with a seventy-seven percent arrest rate according to researchers. “It’s a broadband of knowledge in all these different law enforcement areas for someone to have. It’s been a wonderful career and I am truly blessed to have had it,” he said.
Walton said he wants to use what he’s learned and apply that experience in Rogers County but also said he loves the neighborly atmosphere of the county and wouldn’t want to change that. “Tulsa is Tulsa and Rogers County is Rogers County,” he said. “There’s a great spirit of community in Rogers County and I wouldn’t want to change that for the world. There’s a lot to be said for the laid back, hometown feel of Rogers County.”
“I would love to really utilize a Crime Stoppers program and find ways to get the community more involved in their law enforcement by encouraging a citizen volunteer program, expanding the Alert Neighbors program, and increasing the involvement of the business community,” Walton said. “There’s a triangle of cooperation that includes the public, the business community and law enforcement that generates a great amount of good,” he said citing the mechanisms and success of the Crime Stoppers program.
Walton also said he’d like to explore ways to make a more efficient sheriff’s office. “There’s a lot of things I’d like to look at,” he said. “There’s resources available that come at no additional cost to the people and those resources need to be explored.” He said he would explore government grants and ways to maximize the talents and abilities of the sheriff’s office staff while taking advantage of ways to supplement his department. “There are outside resources, like using the OSBI when we need to, that could be used so we can keep our focus on immediate issues like repeat violent offenders.”
Walton is active in his community through his involvement in numerous organizations including the Rogers State University Alumni Association, The RSU Foundation Board, Rogers County Law Enforcement Association and various other organizations that revolve around his children and his ties to law enforcement.