Betty Shelby is the newest reserve deputy with the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department.
It’s a move Sheriff Scott Walton said will make the department better.
He said he’s sure the community will welcome her with open arms.
“Today we welcome Betty Shelby to the Rogers County Sheriff's Office. We're very thankful for her willingness to come,” Walton said Thursday.
He said Shelby is highly sought after but at this time has accepted a position as a reserve deputy.
The decision came after Walton has publicly shown support for the former Tulsa Police Department officer who was acquitted of manslaughter after the fatal shooting of a suspect in September.
“We are focused on this day forward as far as Betty's career. We're not here to talk about the past,” he said. “We're very, very thankful to have her.”
Walton said, per Shelby’s request, she is being treated like any other applicant.
“Her only demand of us, in coming here, is that she be vetted out like any other person who is hired or brought into the program and that included an interview, background check and everything we do for anyone else. She will have to qualify at the range, like anyone else,” Walton said. “We're very excited to have her here. We can go out any day and fill positions. People seek us out for employment opportunities but it's rare that we have the opportunity to bring people in with a passion for law enforcement that she has. I'm very thankful our paths crossed.”
Walton said he is “looking forward to serving with Betty.”
“Her concern in the interview was how she would be accepted internally and externally—within the sheriff's office and in the community. I can assure you with messages and phone calls that we've received, this community and area law enforcement supports Betty in all ways,” he said.
Shelby said she’s excited to continue her work in Rogers County.
“I would like to thank Sheriff Walton for giving me this opportunity to continue being active in the profession that I have dedicated my life to. As a reserve deputy for the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office, I will continue to serve the great state of Oklahoma and strive to improve the relationships between law enforcement agencies, organizations, and our community through education and involvement,” she said. “I will work and contribute to the Sheriff's Department's mission of providing the highest quality of law enforcement service possible. I am honored to have been chosen to be a part of this wonderful department and working with citizens of Rogers County with a sheriff who is dedicated to ensuring justice for all, whether they are law enforcement or a member of our community.”
When asked, Walton said he had a few words for Rogers County residents.
“Thank you for the comments and support. We've done something here we think makes us a better sheriff's department. We've looked like we would at any other hire, what's the worst thing that can happen, what's the downside, the pros and cons,” he said. “And we believe Betty Shelby will be an asset to RCSO as well as the community of Rogers County.”
Walton said his department serves 88,000 people who all have an expectation of “good, professional law enforcement.”
“I think she'll add to our mission here to provide good service to good people—and right now she's doing it with zero compensation. And if that doesn't say something of her passion for the profession I don't know what does.”
In looking at her passion and experience, Walton said the addition of Shelby to his department is like winning the lottery.
“She wants to do her job. It's very evident she wants to do her job and serve the community. It's not a publicity stunt or a get-even deal, it's bringing somebody that is passionate about law enforcement. We can find people who want a job, who want to be a police officer—but somebody that has proven themselves dedicated and passionate about the job we all love to do. I can't think of a better example than Betty Shelby,” he said. “…I certainly feel like we hit a lottery in this deal. Bringing someone that has worked for a bigger organization and knows what is excepted. We can send somebody out there that is well-trained and well-equipped and will take care of business.”
Walton said he made his decision to hire Shelby public for a couple reasons.
“We didn't want the nay-sayers to think we were trying to slide Betty into this organization in the dark. We want it to be very very clear that we're making it loud and proud that this is a decision we made. It didn't happen by accident. We did it on purpose. We, as a sheriff's office, and a community, have welcomed her to serve in Rogers County,” he said.
The other reason, he said, is a show of support for law enforcement.
“I think law enforcement laid too quiet on Betty's situation in the early stages of it, nationwide. We look at the situation and how law enforcement’s job has changed and my reason for being so vocal wasn't personally directed towards any one individual or group. But to protect the part of this profession that allows us to protect the people we serve. What I'm saying is, when officers are so scrutinized in the use of deadly force that they draw back and wait and hesitate and over-think situations and in turn get themselves killed—we've taken away not only their protection but we've taken away their ability to protect the people we are sworn to protect,” he said. “I'd hate to think I was part of not supporting the duties that come with law enforcement that often turn ugly, that's why people run away from the profession... I'd hate to think I was part of sitting there quietly and letting a movement take over and take our ability to protect.”
He added that he was vocal about his decision to “hopefully give support to those who are wiling to go out and do a job other people are often afraid of or unable to do.”
In the law enforcement community, he said, “She has a story to tell, and it will be told.” He called her experience eye-opening and said it serves as “great training for anybody in law enforcement in any stage of their career.”
Proudly, Walton said, “She has been tried and tested more than any of us in this room. From this day forward, it's looking bright.”