Bryan County is a rural area, quite similar to fictional Mayberry, but that’s all that’s similar to Mayberry.
Durant and the county have big city crime like anywhere in America.
In Bryan County, there’s a new Sheriff in town.
He’s not the old fashioned Andy Taylor, but his employees say he possesses an understanding of people and how his department interacts with the public.
Whether out in the country, or in the city, crimes have victims and they require strong leadership and experience to solve.
Bryan County Sheriff Johnny Christian brings that experience and leadership to the table as he leads the new Bryan County Sheriff’s Department.
Newly elected after a successful career with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Christian has improved and upgraded the department.
The Sheriff’s Department has recovered $242,8000 worth of stolen property.
That consists of anything from tractors and trailers, to firearms and vehicles.
Many of those recoveries resulted in arrests of suspects of those crimes.
In his first 100 days in office, his department has responded to 1394 calls for service of some kind.
Drugs in the county are a big problem that fuels other crimes.
Users need cash to buy the drugs they use and many times a crime is committed to get that cash.
28 drug related arrests have been made in the county since he took office.
Those arrests resulted in 48 drug charges being filed.
28 other charges related to those drug arrests were filed.
He’s really putting in maximum effort on this problem faced by communities everywhere.
Christian said, “You know, it’s so common everywhere, not just our county, but other counties across the state. With the new laws coming into effect July 1st, felony drug usage is lowered to misdemeanors. I think we will all see the changes in that. I know I’ve seen great successes in drug court. Because the way the current law is, when it comes to drug possession, I know it has helped people get away from it.
In the future, I don’t know how that is going to happen. When you reduce it to a misdemeanor, I don’t know how drug court is going to help them.We are going to have to work together with the District Attorney, and the Judges and come up with a solution to help people. It’s an addiction and we have got to do everything we can to help them.”
With a lower misdemeanor charge, many may not have the proper incentive to quit their addiction.
With the higher felony charge, many quit and completed drug court requirements and are now drug free.
Bryan County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Steve Nabors and Chief Investigator Mark Riffe have both known Christian for years.
Both left the Oklahoma Highway Patrol specifically to work for Christian and the citizens of the county, when he took office.
Christian said, “It makes it the whole machine, a finely tuned machine. When we can bring these guys in from the field who’ve got 30 years or more experience to teach the young guys, and we’ll be able to hand the baton off one day. When we can bring them in, taught with all the experience we’ve got, we can hand it off one day. It’s only going to benefit the people of Bryan County.”
Sheriff Christian said the budget is a real issue in his department.
Equipment is needed to do the best job possible for the county.
He hopes to find the money to make those upgrades.
He said, “The budget, money issues, our fleet is very high mileage. I hope to get that resolved and come up with a plan to replace those. We just keep putting band-aids on these cars with 150 to 200,000 miles on them.”
Getting everyone to work like that fine tuned machine he talks about, is one of his goals that is an ongoing effort.
He said the biggest accomplishment is his department’s morale.
His leadership had made his employees happy about the direction the department is going.
Christian said, “Getting everyone to work together and be happy. My employees seem very happy about the future we are headed toward. We bring them all in where they feel they have ownership, and they do, in the office of the sheriff.”
The county now has 24 hour patrol coverage since he’s taken office in January.
Patrol techniques have been implemented to have a better response time for service on those calls.
Christian said, “”We follow up with victims to make sure they are satisfied with the work the Sheriff’s Department is providing.”
He said taking care of the victims is a priority. Having your belongings stolen is never a good feeling.
The Self Defense Act fingerprints are now taken inside the Sheriff’s office.
Each person who applies to carry a firearm is fingerprinted.
It was a bad experience for some to be fingerprinted near the inmates, in the jail.
He made arrangements for that to be done in the business area of the jail, up front.
Christian said, “This is for our conceal carry that is now called the “Self Defense Act.” They had to take people back to the jail to do that. A lot of our elderly people and women weren’t comfortable. We had a lot of complaints on that. I said during my campaign that I’d move it inside the Sheriff’s office. When someone gets that done, we’ll be right there with them. They won’t have to worry about the dramatic events that go in inside the jail sometimes.”
Many policies and procedures for the department, jail and warrant process have been re-evaluated, changed, improved, all in the name of better service.
Sheriff Christian negotiated and signed a contract with Turnkey Medical to improve the medical care of inmates.
This reduces the liability for the county and the department which is a great improvement in care also.
Kristy Toombs was promoted to Jail Administrator when he took over the department.
He said, “Where a person comes into the Sheriff’s office door, I have Amanda in between who handles the civil and warrant process and the sex offender registration. I put Kristy up there as well as Administrator with her responsibility being the jail. Then I have Shelly Carter as my office manager. I have my administrators on that wing, up front. We have hands on the entire time, anytime any situation arises from the jail or sheriff’s office. Kristy brings a lot of knowledge to the table with the jail.”
When asked how the citizens have been toward him, Christian said, “Very supportive, very supportive. Anytime we’ve meet up with groups, we explain where we are headed and where the future is headed. Everybody is so helpful. Dealing with the victims of crime, we do our best to get their property back for them. We were able to get a lot of property back for people and we are getting more and more as we go.”
His open door policy and the fact that he runs the department in a family oriented way has really helped the department, he said.
The people of Bryan County have over a century of law enforcement experience in just 3 of the former OHP Troopers including Christian.
They have centuries of experience when you add all up what all of his employees bring to the table.
He credits the people, his employees and their families and his own family with supporting his efforts as Sheriff.
He said, “My wife Teresa has been very supportive and been an extra hand to help us get the office cleaned up and organized. She even got some donations for us. She is a great asset for helping me getting started and helping me every day. My family has been supportive. I love them to death.”
Christian said that’s exactly how he likes things. He said, “And, that’s how we run the office, as a family. You may see kids by here when we are in the office. We love having kids here. That’s the way we like to run it. It makes everybody smile.”
Contact Dan Pennington at (580) 634-2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org