In Profile: Meet Sheriff Tommie Johnson III

by Devon Rabourn

In a time of division and lack of trust in law enforcement, a new sheriff hopes to chart a positive course forward in Oklahoma County. Tommie Johnson made history in 2020 by becoming the first African American sheriff of Oklahoma’s most populous county.

Johnson started his law enforcement career in 2015. His first job was with the Norman Police Department. As a police officer he worked his way through the ranks and ended his time with the department as a master police officer.

In 2020, Johnson decided to run against the incumbent Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor. 

“I saw a void that I could fill,” Johnson said. “I felt that the sheriff’s office was lacking leadership. I felt that I had the vision, the leadership, I felt that I had the qualities, ideas, and I can relate to our community today”  

Johnson faced a tough Republican primary. He went into a runoff election with Taylor, which ended with him winning the party’s nomination.  He would go on to defeat Democratic candidate Wayland Cubit in the November election. 

With the winning votes, Johnson made history as the first African American to hold the position of Oklahoma County Sheriff.

“Being the first of anything is always a great feeling,” Johnson said. However, being part of history is not what Johnson hopes defines his time in office.  He wants to be known as a good Sheriff, not just the first African American Sheriff.

One of his primary goals as sheriff is putting body cameras on all active deputies.

“Not only will it only hold the officer accountable, but also the citizen,” Johnson said. “It’s also protection for everyone involved.” 

Another goal is increasing pay for Sheriff’s Deputies. 

Johnson said his favorite part of the job is serving the public. “When you’re out there engaging with people, it’s the best part,” Johnson said. To know that I truly care about the community and they truly care about [wanting a] better [relationship] between law enforcement and the community.

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