Improvements and safety among biggest Taylor’s concerns for State’s largest jail.
On Tuesday, September 12, Oklahoma County residents will vote on who will be our next Sheriff. Although PD Taylor is not the official Sheriff, he has made numerous changes in the few months he has held the interim position and has gained the support of many county residents and officials. Republican registered Taylor faces 2 other opponents this election, Independent Ed Grimes, Undersheriff of Canadian county and Democrat Mike Hanson, current officer of the department for which he seeks top position.
Interim Sheriff PD Taylor has served in law enforcement for most of his adult life. He spent 26 years with the OKC Police Department and now has 20 years with the County Sheriff’s Department, the last decade as Undersheriff.
Taylor was named interim Sheriff when his predecessor Sheriff John Whetsel, retired unexpectedly months after his reelection but amidst criticism over budget management and inmate deaths at the county jail.
During our interview with the Sheriff, Taylor expressed concern about jail overcrowding and a shortfall of resources. Taylor oversees about 1000 employees and 2200 inmates on average. He manages a 34 million dollar budget but says that a large portion of that is spent on healthcare of inmates due to the fact that many inmates are not in good health when they arrive. Mental health needs also further drain the budget with not much left over for improvements. The facility currently contracts for $650,000 a month in medical services to provide care for detainees.
Taylor says that the jail, which opened in 1991, was designed to house no more than 1200 inmates, currently holds about 2200 on average and at one point recently had held as many as 3100 with many cells occupied by 3 inmates. Taylor explained that certain inmates must be housed separately due gang affiliations, mental health problems and other issues. Those factors cause the jail to use more cell space than is accounted for. Poor construction of the building has caused constant issues with mold, flooding and security issues.
While his predecessor demanded a new jail or else, Taylor sees a future with a new jail or an improved jail where inmates have outdoor recreational facilities, training facilities, a separate mental health facility, space for a operational medical clinic and other improvements that would impact safety, alleviate overcrowding issues and make for a more efficient run jail. Taylor says the jail needs to do a better job of working with and reaching out to other agencies to move toward this common goal.
A serious issue at the jail Taylor sees is the time it take for detainees to be processed and either released or sent to a more long term facility with more resources and activities for inmates. He says that its not uncommon for inmates to wait 8 or 9 months to be processed.
Taylor sees the need for a county sales tax and cites the fact the Oklahoma County is the only county in Oklahoma not to provide this revenue for the State’s largest jail. He believes the need for a real marketing effort similar to MAPS to convince residents that additional jail funding is a top priority for the County.
Much like OKCPD leadership, Taylor expresses an appreciation for the Hispanic community in the county and pledges not to use its limited resources to become an immigration enforcement agency and has to desire to change that perspective.
“If you treat people with respect, you will get the same respect back 99% of the time,” Taylor says. It’s a belief that Taylor holds dear.
Among his many distinctions, Taylor is proud to have served as the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Chairman for many years during his time with the OKCPD. He was elected as Policeman of the Year, by the National Fraternal Order of Police in 1995. Born and raised in OKC, P.D. Taylor is a graduate of Putnam City High School, the Class of 1964, and he obtained his associate degree in police science from Oklahoma City Southwestern College. While serving in the U.S. Army from 1966-1968, Taylor was stationed in Vietnam, attaining the rank of sergeant. Taylor joined the Oklahoma City Police Department in 1968. Taylor has 3 daughters, 3 grandchildren and has been married for 40 years.