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Betty Shelby talks about starting over one year after her acquittal

Rogers County Sheriff's Office Betty Shelby
Rogers County Sheriff's Office Betty Shelby
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This week marks the one-year anniversary of Betty Shelby's acquittal in the manslaughter shooting death of Terence Crutcher and the raucous protests that followed. In the eyes of the law, she's innocent.

But Shelby knows her critics may never concede that. She's back on the job now working as a Deputy Sheriff in Rogers County.

That's where Neile Jones caught up with Shelby as she arrived at work, ready to hit the streets.

Shelby told us, "You know life is a struggle, and life has been up and down this past year."

According to Shelby, ever since her acquittal in death of Terence Crutcher, she's been working to finding her new normal.

In fact, for a while, the almost 11-year veteran says it was a struggle to even find work, "One of the things that I came up with is quilting. It seems a little strange, but I enjoy sewing. I enjoy quilting, and I thought, 'Well, maybe I can do this as a business."

And she did just that, while also home schooling her grandson. Then, one day, the call came from Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton.

"I'd seen the news where he had stood up and said, 'I will hire Betty Shelby,' and so when I got that call I'm like, 'Wow, this is a man of his word,'" explained Shelby.

Very different from her final days at the Tulsa Police Department after a jury found her innocent.

RELATED I Juror details 'not guilty' Shelby verdict; 'We question her judgment' as an officer

"When I returned to work at TPD, I was put in isolation. I was put back into a place completely isolated from the officers. I was told that it was for my safety." But Shelby said she felt ostracized and knew some in the community thought she belonged in jail. Then came a second chance in Rogers County, "So that verses here, I am now in patrol with a leader who supports me."

Walton offered Shelby work at a time when she needed it most. She started as a reserve officer and about six months later became an active deputy.

"I remember being in the patrol car alone with the computer, the radio going and it was moment of nostalgia... I'm back where I belong." She now works ten hour shifts and says she's learning new things, "Something new for me is the animal calls. I've had to learn how to rangle cattle and horses and pigs. Just two weeks ago, there was a pig at large."

But she is also teaching other officers about something she calls "The Ferguson Effect," which she defines as, "When a police officer is victimized by anti-police groups and tried in the court of public opinion."

VIDEO | Betty Shelby's police interview after Crutcher shooting released

"I have a class that I teach to officers to give them the tools to survive such events, and it's a way of surviving financially, how to survive legally, emotionally and physically."

Things Shelby says she herself had to learn. But as for her days now, "The best part of my day is the simple things like stopping at QT to get my gas or coffee, and I get to interact with citizens and say hello and shake hands and just visit."

She also says yes, there is still some anxiety when she pulls someone over but not necessarily any more than any other officer would have, "Our life is not the same. It will never be the same again. We have our new normal and that new normal has so many different aspects to it and it's what we live with."

Shelby says she also finds solace on her farm where she spends time with her animals including her miniature donkeys and goats.

Shelby is still facing some litigation.

As for Sheriff Scott Walton. He's very proud of the work Shelby's done in the last year and stands by the decision to hire her.

"We made a good decision. It wasn't a heroic decision or anything else, we simply did the right thing. Had to do it over again I'd do the right thing again."

Both Walton and Shelby say the Rogers County community has really embraced her.

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