Sheriff Wayne McKinney announced he will seek re-election as Stephens County’s Sheriff in 2020.
His declaration of candidacy came Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, as Stephens County citizens rang in the new year. A formal declaration of candidacy will be filed at a later date.
McKinney was first elected to office in 2009. One of his first convictions came from a 2006 case in which Stephens County suffered from numerous arson fires. McKinney said he vowed to arrest the person responsible and within six months of his first term, James Morgan was arrested and convicted after admitting to setting around 75 fires.
“This sheriff’s office, it wasn’t a very professional organization (when I started),” McKinney said. “We decided we were going to make this a professional law enforcement agency. We did that, we set out to do it and it took a while — it took about a year and a half in my first term to start getting things turned around. During that timeframe, we had a lot of things happen in this county. It was like, ‘OK, there’s a new guy here, we’re going to test him.’ We had several murders, we had a lot of home invasions, we were having all kinds of major crimes happening here. I had assembled a bunch of really good people and I’ve still got a lot of them with me. We were able to investigate those ourselves and clear up all of them and make arrests and get convictions out of all of them.”
During his time in office, one of McKinney’s goals included getting the Department up to speed. He was able to add K9 units to the force, standardize weapons and how officers receive issuance of handguns, rifles, shotguns, munitions, protective vests and became the first law enforcement agency in Stephens County to equip deputies with body cameras. A bloodhound tracking dog also serves the force now.
Other accomplishment McKinney lists include establishing rules and guidelines for the reserve deputy program as well as the annual reserve academy, creating a 24/7 shift schedule, increasing man power, establishing a policy and procedures manual, implementing a chain of command approach and “placing competent, qualified individuals in key command positions.”
“Over the last 11 years, I have made public safety priority number one,” McKinney said. “As a result of that focus, crimes are being cleared and criminals are being taken off the street. We quickly identify suspects and arrest criminals. This type of proactive approach leads to more convictions in court.”
Statistics show McKinney’s department has a clearance rate of 89% of its cases. He doesn’t take all the credit, however, and passes most of it toward the staff who helps serve Stephens County.
“Our record has stood for us and I’m very proud of that,” McKinney said. “It’s not only me doing it, it’s the people I have working for me that have been able to achieve that. I can’t say it enough — I’m very proud of them. We will continue and we will bring a level of professional protection to the citizens of this county, that’s our number one goal.”
McKinney, though proud of the changes made in the department, says there’s still work to do.
“We’re still understaffed but that’s pretty common anywhere right now,” McKinney said. “We have a long way to go yet to get everything kind of settled … but I want to (add) a few more deputies on the road as we progress where we can be a little faster on our response times … This county is a pretty good size. We’re going to have more deputies in the field and an additional investigator where can get the follow up done on the cases that they’re working because we do a fairly heavy case load and some of these cases take a while. It’s not something that can be done overnight like you see on TV. Sometimes they take months. I feel I still have a lot to offer and we can still go further with it.”
McKinney’s longtime community involvement currently includes membership on the Behavioral Health Committee sponsored by Duncan Regional Hospital. He is a member of the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association, National Sheriff’s Association and is a member of the National Rifle Association and the National Wild Turkey Federation.