Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson has been sheriff since 2000, and he believes when it comes to being the county’s top cop, nothing can beat experience.
While opposing candidates in Tuesday’s primary election have ideas for changes they’d like to implement, Pearson said the reality of making changes and improvements is something he’s dealt with for almost 12 years.
“It’s not as easy as just snapping your finger and it’s done,” Pearson said. “We’ve made a ton of changes since I’ve been here, just like I said we would, but it takes time and money and a lot of effort to accomplish.”
Pearson faces off Tuesday against four other Democrats: Jimmy Lee, Lonnie Bemo, Eddie Walker and Emman Lorin Drywater. After a probable runoff election Aug. 28, the winner will go up against the Republican candidate, Roger Lee on Nov. 6 in the general election.
Pearson said when he was elected in 2000, he made two promises: He’d make the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office the most technologically advanced in the state, and he wouldn’t spend more money than he brought in.
“I’ve been true to my word,” Pearson said, referring to jail surveillance, courthouse equipment and other improvements. “You should have seen this jail when I got here. You should have seen the equipment we had. I said I would make it better and I have, and the improvements aren’t done, we’re in the middle of more. But it takes time.”
Pearson said more cameras, microphones and supervision monitors have made the jail safer for employees and inmates— but it was expensive. He said deputies and jailers receive better training than they did before he became sheriff, and that costs money too. So does vehicle, radio and equipment upgrades the deputies have.
“I’ll tell you what, if someone that’s not me is the next sheriff, whoever it is better be able to read a spreadsheet,” Pearson said. “Being sheriff isn’t just about being a law enforcer and it’s not just about talking with people, it’s also about being a businessman. Because running the jail and raising money for improvements and handling a staff is a huge part of the job.”
The Muskogee Police Department, Pearson said, has an $8 million budget and has “about 85 employees.”
“We get $4 million, and that’s depending on how much money I can save,” Pearson said. “And we have more than 120 employees.”
Pearson said he’s been at work gathering upgrades for the Muskogee County Courthouse and had the Department of Homeland Security in to do an evaluation.
“We’re working on getting the equipment in here and doing the upgrades they said we needed,” Pearson said. “But it takes time and money. It’s not as easy as just snapping your fingers and saying ‘let’s make it safer,’ and that’s a reality you learn by actually being the sheriff and having to deal with this.
“It’s not as easy as just wanting to get something done. You have to know how to get it done, and we’ve been doing it for more than a decade. I love this job and I love this community and all I want is to keep making it better.”
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or email@example.com.
Meet Charles Pearson
OFFICE SOUGHT: Muskogee County Sheriff.
FAMILY: Wife, Stephanie; two daughters, Whitney and Jessica.
OCCUPATION: Muskogee County Sheriff.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Muskogee High School.
RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Baptist.
HOBBIES: Riding four-wheelers, taking camping trips.
Muskogee County Sheriff candidates
• Lonnie Bemo, D-Muskogee;
• Eddie Walker, D-Muskogee;
• Charles Pearson, D-Muskogee;
• Jimmy Lee, D-Muskogee;
• Roger Lee, R-Muskogee;
• Emman Lorin Drywater, D-Muskogee.
• Today — Early voting, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Saturday — Early voting, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Monday — Early voting, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• June 26 — Primary election.
• Aug. 28 — Runoff primary election.
• Nov. 6 — General election.