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Tulsa County Interim Sheriff Gives First Media Interviews

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

For the first time, Tulsa County Interim Sheriff Michelle Robinette is talking to the media since stepping into the position.

Three weeks ago Acting Sheriff Rick Weigel announced his retirement and Robinette stepped into the job. She’s the third sheriff to take over the office in the past six months.

Robinette sat down with every local media outlet on Wednesday to do one-on-one interviews. She spoke with News On 6 for 30 minutes.

She talked about the jail's budget problems and how the sheriff's office can regain the community’s trust.

Robinette was running the jail and wasn't anticipating stepping in as interim sheriff, but she's embracing it and said the sheriff's office is getting the department back to the basics.

"Am I qualified for this job? If not me then who? I think so. I have been here for 21 years. I have worked in every area of this office. I know the politics. I may not like them, but I know them," she said.

She especially knows the Tulsa County Jail, which she's been overseeing for years; and it's no secret the jail has its share of problems and pending lawsuits.

"Are there mistakes that happen? Absolutely. You've got almost 400 people in that jail, plus 1,700 inmates, things are going to happen, just like they would in a small city,” Robinette said.

The jail is facing a deficit. Robinette said the problem is the criminal justice authority only approved $31.5 million to run the jail and it takes $34 million. She said the sheriff's office makes up the difference in tough times.

"When you run short and they need toilet paper, we can't sit back and say ‘okay, well get it to me while you can.’ No, toilet paper is a big issue in the jail," she said.

A grand jury recently submitted eight recommendations to the sheriff's office. Robinette said they are making progress - establishing a records division to keep better track of training records and restructuring the internal affairs office.

She said, “This office will run regardless of who sits in this chair, based on the people that work here, They are the office and they are what makes this office what it is and we have some of the best people in the country working in this office."

I also asked why the office hasn't been more transparent in recent weeks. She said she was reluctant to talk until Weigel was officially retired, three days ago.

TCSO Reserve Deputy Shooting Controversy

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