By DYLAN GOFORTH
Two departed high-ranking members of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office will pull in tens of thousands of dollars annually in retirement benefits despite their being terminated in the wake of the Eric Harris shooting.
Former undersheriff Tim Albin and Maj. Tom Huckeby have each resigned following Harris’ death – both were named extensively in a leaked 2009 internal affairs report surrounding the treatment of reserve deputy Robert Bates, who shot Harris April 2.
According to the report, Albin and Huckeby helped Bates – a longtime friend of Sheriff Stanley Glanz who had donated extensively to both the sheriff’s office and Glanz’ re-election campaign – rise to prominence within TCSO despite not having required training.
Albin and Huckeby have both been allowed to retire from TCSO, preserving their retirement benefits. On Tuesday, Tulsa’s Board of County Commissioners approved Huckeby’s status as a peace officer upon retirement, meaning the retiring major will be able to carry his badge and gun, assuming he qualifies with the weapon on the range every year.
“It means that when you’re a retired officer, if you run into someone that you’ve had trouble with during your career, you’ll have a weapon on you that you can defend yourself with,” Glanz said following the county commissioner’s meeting.
On Tuesday, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Terry Simonson said in an email to The Frontier that Albin and Huckeby’s exit from TCSO was a termination, rendered following a personal investigation by Glanz.
“We don’t consider it ‘allowing them retire,’ when the decision has been made by the sheriff, following his own personally led investigation, that they can, and will, no longer be associated with the TCSO.” Simonson said. “The Sheriff does not consider ‘forced retirement’ to be a benefit. It is, after all, the most severe disciplinary action that can be taken against an employee by an employer, that is, termination.”
Glanz said previously that he had possibly put “too much trust” in Albin.
“What their separation from employment with TCSO is called is really insignificant and unimportant to the necessary outcome which is removing them from the workforce,” Simonson said.
That designation may not be so insignificant to taxpayers, who will foot the bill for retirement benefits to the two departed deputies.
Albin, according to county commissioners, will draw about $74,000 per year in retirement. County records show he had nearly 30 years of service there, as well as two years and six months of military service.
That service time will allow Albin to annually draw “about” 74 percent of his last three years average salary of $100,563.
The amount of money Huckeby will make in retirement has not yet been released, but the departing major’s salary was more than $60,000.
“If a person is eligible for retirement then they can use it at any time, but the fact that they are eligible to retire is not the conditioning factor upon which the decision to separate them from the workforce is made,” Simonson said. “Whether it’s called resigned, retired, or fired, the desired conclusion is the same – not employed by TCSO.”