Article 25: June 2022
SO getting SCUBA certified for crimes they can’t investigate
By Chris Willingham
The sheriff’s department is getting officers SCUBA certified and training to be certified in forensic Underwater Crime Investigations (UCI), this newspaper has learned.
According to the sheriff’s department appropriation ledger the newspaper obtained, the department has spent $10,085.92 on scuba equipment in June alone.
Even if the department gets certified in SCUBA and forensic UCI, their officers cannot investigate at all because they have no jurisdiction on water, state statutes show.
All water-related accidents and crimes, such as drownings or homicides that occur on water, are investigated by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Enforcement Division and OHP Dive Team, who train specifically for such investigations.
The sheriff’s department has been having recent departmental staff meetings related to forensic UCI training and SCUBA certification, the newspaper learned.
Similarly, in 2021, the sheriff’s department purchased a boat for the purpose of starting a marine enforcement division on Broken Bow Lake, but then learned their officers have no jurisdiction on water.
The SO’s marine enforcement division was to be headed by former deputy Matt Kasbaum, who quit the department months after his involvement in the in custody death of Bobby Barrick, who Kasbaum Tasered multiple times before Barrick lost consciousness and later died.
Captain of All Officers Alicia Manning posted a picture of her SCUBA training on her Facebook this week with the hashtag #divecertcoming.
According to court records, the last time Manning filed a case was in December 2021. She has not filed a felony criminal case as an officer since.
Both felony and misdemeanor filings by the sheriff’s department this year are down by nearly 50 percent compared to the first six months of 2021.
The department has filed two drug cases this year and made only four arrests as the result of property crime investigations in the first six months of 2022.
Investigations related to the county jail is what have kept deputies busy so far this year, records show.
Jail-related offenses were the top category of crime worked by sheriff’s deputies this year. Those include escapees by multiple inmates, drugs and other contraband being brought into the jail and fights in the jail.
The county jail trust recently voted to give jail administrator and former undersheriff Larry Hendrix a $600/month gas stipend in light of high gas prices. Hendrix lives in Choctaw County and commutes to work.
Hendrix’s gas stipend is the highest in the county. Elected officials get $500/month in gas stipends.