Sequoyah County’s new sheriff, Larry Lane, will take the oath of office on Jan. 3.
Lane said his Number 1 priority will be drug investigations.
Lane said the illegal drug business in Sequoyah County “is rampant.”
Lane, a resident of Vian, comes back to Sequoyah County law enforcement from his present position as an investigator for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. He has 25 years experience as a law enforcement officer.
He explained about his investigations in Cherokee County, “We do two or three drug raids a week in Cherokee County. All the suspects say they get the drugs from Sallisaw or Muskogee. It’s unbelievable.”
Lane said the investigations reveal the drugs of choice at present are methamphetamines and prescription drugs. The methamphetamines are usually what is known as ice or crystal meth. That is not made locally, but imported from Mexico, Lane said. The drug distributors then travel to Oklahoma City or Tulsa to buy their supply for distribution in the eastern Oklahoma area.
Next on Lane’s priority list are property crimes and burglaries.
“Everyone I talked to in the county,” Lane said, “is talking about thieves, which always leads back to drugs.”
Lane said stopping drug trafficking will help stop the burglaries and thefts.
Lane said he will also work on getting raises for the sheriff’s deputies. Lane was himself a sheriff’s deputy under former Sheriff Johnny Philpot.
“That was eight years ago,” Lane said, “and the deputies have only had one pay raise since then. They make $2,500 a month. That’s only $30,000 a year. That’s not much for those putting their lives on the line.”
Lane said he has visited with outgoing Sheriff Ron Lockhart, and he and Lockhart will be visiting in December to work on the transition from the past to the future.
Lane said the plans are to keep the core staff already at the sheriff’s office and jail. Jamie Faulkenberry will continue as jail administrator, Lane said.
“You’ve got to keep your core staff as long as they want to stay on,” Lane said.
The sheriff’s office has 10 or 11 deputies, seven investigators, the jail staff and several part-time employees, Lane said. Lane said he will have to take office and then get organized before working on staffing the office. He will have an undersheriff, he said.
The new sheriff must also deal with some new laws approved by voters on Nov. 8. That includes State Question 780 and 781. Question 780 changes the classification for some drug possession and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and a threshold from $500 to $1,000 for property crimes. Question 781 establishes rehabilitative programs such as mental health and substance abuse services for those found guilty of the new misdemeanors. According to the ballot questions, the measures become effective on July 1, 2017.
Lane said he isn’t sure how law enforcement is to deal with this two measures, but he is sure the measures will call for more work on the part of law enforcement.
Lane’s calm and professional, yet passionate, thoughts about the future of law enforcement in Sequoyah County support his campaign promises to focus on destructive criminal activity in the county, while remaining fair to residents, and that he will strive to make the community a safe and better place to live and grow.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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