Should Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz resign before his term is scheduled to end, the next step for the embattled sheriff’s office will depend purely on his timing.
Glanz, who testified last week for three hours in front of a grand jury investigating his office, has hinted recently in interviews with The Frontier that he had considered resigning, something he had previously claimed he would not do. Though the question is a hypothetical one currently, ongoing investigations that may result in Glanz’s removal have raised questions about what happens next.
TCSO and Glanz came under scrutiny in April following the shooting death of Eric Harris, 44, by 74-year-old reserve deputy Robert Bates. Bates, a donor to the sheriff’s office, is a personal friend of Glanz and has chaired his campaign committee in the past.
The petition filed to impanel the grand jury seeks Glanz’s ouster from office. The grand jury is in its ninth week of testimony and has heard from more than 20 witnesses.
If Glanz were to resign before the grand jury issues its report, it’s unclear what would happen to the investigation. A separate OSBI investigation into alleged corruption within Glanz’s office is also underway.
However, what would happen within the sheriff’s office is clearly laid out in state law. Since the next election for sheriff is scheduled for 2016, a resignation this year would result in Gov. Mary Fallin calling for a special election within 30 days of Glanz’s departure.
Patty Bryant, Tulsa County Election Board Secretary, said she could not remember a special election at the county level since she began working at the election board eight years ago.
Bryant said the governor’s office would have to set filing deadlines, as well as primary and general election dates.
“It would be hectic,” Bryant said.
If Glanz were to wait until 2016 to leave office, state law stipulates the remaining top-ranked member of the sheriff’s office — currently Undersheriff Rick Weigel— would immediately take office, First Assistant District Attorney John David Luton said. Weigel joined the sheriff’s office in 2008 and became undersheriff May 1 following the forced resignation of Undersheriff Tim Albin.
Weigel is among the more than 20 people who have offered testimony since the grand jury began.
Luton said that Weigel would serve as acting sheriff until the general election took place in November. The winner of that election would then immediately be appointed as sheriff by the Governor.
Grand jury happenings
The grand jury met Tuesday with its two legal advisors— Okmulgee County District Attorney Rob Barris and Washington County District Attorney Kevin Buchanan— on Tuesday, but did not appear to call any witnesses. Jurors left their meeting room at 11 a.m.
On Monday, the jurors appeared to briefly speak with Sgt. Randy Chapman for a second time. Chapman, who first met with grand jurors in August, was a key figure in a leaked 2009 Internal Affairs document that had statements from numerous ranking TCSO officers who claimed Bates received favoritism in his ascension up the reserve deputy ranks.
Chapman, reserve deputy coordinator at the time, told Rob Lillard, author of the 2009 report, that Bates had become a reserve deputy without Chapman’s knowledge. Chapman also said Bates was driving a personally owned vehicle equipped with police equipment prior to having achieved “the rank necessary to do so,” the IA report states.
Bates was listed by the sheriff’s office as an advanced reserve deputy from 2009 up until the April 2 shooting of Harris. Advanced reserve deputies must complete more than 700 hours of training, including hundreds of hours of field training, in order to reach that level.
Complete documents listing Bates’ hours of training and field training have never been provided by either the sheriff’s office or his defense team. Partial training records have been released, including handwritten notes on Bates’ own stationary.
The 2009 report states when Chapman approached Albin, then a chief deputy, with his concerns over Bates, Albin said: “This is a shit sandwich and you will just have to eat it.”