The Rogers County Sheriff’s Department hired former Tulsa police officer Wayne Brown as a detention officer today, following his termination from the Tulsa force in early September.
TPD fired Brown following the discovery of anti-government and Islamaphobic posts on his personal Facebook page between 2013 and 2016, three years before he was hired on by TPD.
Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said Brown was chosen from three candidates who applied for an open position at the county jail.
"Hands down, we all felt that he was the best candidate," Walton said.
Brown was chosen because of his CLEET certification, saving the county 16 weeks of paid training, and positive references from previous employers, Walton said. Brown is also a Rogers County resident who has lived in Claremore since age 12.
Walton said the department performed an even more extensive background check than usual given recent events.
“If I had any inclination that Wayne Brown had a racist bone in his body, we would never have had a conversation about this job. That would be the end of the story,” Walton said.
"We checked references that he didn't even list as references, and we have yet to hear even one negative comment," Walton said. “The consistent remarks that I heard were ‘he is an honest, hard-working young guy,’ ‘he’s the kind of guy that will help you in the middle of the night if you need it,’ ‘I’d hire him back in a minute,’ ‘I’d trust him with anything.’”
According to reports from the Tulsa World, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan received a complaint about Brown’s online activity following social media posts by community activists.
An internal investigation was launched and Brown was terminated within an hour and 15 minutes of when the complaint was received.
The screenshots of Brown’s posts which circulated online championed gun rights, proposed violent action against Islam in the United States, were critical of Barack and Michelle Obama, encouraged hosing protestors, and demonstrated support for the Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, whose shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is recognized as the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think Mr. Brown is a poster child for political correctness gone too far,” Walton said. “People are looking way below face value for anything that they can do to tarnish a police officer’s reputation. How he got in the crosshairs of that, I don’t know.”
“I think he was a victim of political correctness and spineless leadership,” Walton said. “Tulsa’s actions were cowardly.”
Walton stated that the department’s decision to hire Brown was not a political statement endorsing Brown’s political views, but rather a routine decision to hire a qualified candidate to fill an open position.
"I'm not trying to use this office or the resources of Roger's County to prove any point," Walton said, addressing a criticism that was levied at him after hiring former Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby. “It was a gamble. If it was a political stunt, it was the best one I ever did … The community embraced that woman, and they still do.”
"All we're providing is an opportunity for him to go to work here. It's not because of his past, it's not in spite of it,” Walton said. “The rest is up to him to prove.”
Brown said he was humbled to receive the job offer.
“I believe everything in life you have to earn, and if I have to start at the bottom, I’ll start at the bottom,” Brown said.
“It’ll be great to work in the county that I basically grew up in,” Brown said. “I’m excited to be able to start a career here and work my way up. I’m going to start at the bottom, I’m going to work my way up and I’m going to earn my position on the street.”
Walton said, “If there is any message I want to send out, we’re going to do the right thing regardless. We are not going to succumb to two or three people who were somehow offended.”
“I don’t have a problem looking in the mirror and saying I did the right thing, not just for this agency, but for the community we serve,” Walton said.