Nowata sheriff shrugs off criticism, vows to get to work


It's just before lunchtime Monday and with people out sick Nowata County Sheriff Kenny Freeman found himself running dispatch.

"I figured, it's got to get done, so I might as well do it," said Freeman.

It's one of many jobs he says he's qualified to do here.

"I've done it before. I started at the bottom in this place," said Freeman.

Freeman said he worked his way up to deputy, a job he loved for 18 years, until he was fired.

"It was kind of a mutual understanding. I was going one way, he was going the other. We weren't getting along very well," said Freeman.

Freeman has had other jobs since then, but perhaps the most surprising is the job he held just before becoming sheriff. And that was janitor at the courthouse.

"Mopping floors, cleaning toilets, just like any other janitor," said Freeman.

He was picked as sheriff by the county commissioners in part because no one else applied for the job.

Freeman said he wasn't sure he even wanted the job at first.

"Now that I'm here giving it a try, I think this is something I do want to do," said Freeman. "I really miss law enforcement, and I love the job."

Not everyone is happy with the choice for sheriff. People around town are venting their frustrations, though no one we spoke with in Nowata wanted to talk about those frustrations on camera.

To all those people, Freeman has a message.

"There's naysayers wherever you go," said Freeman. "There's people who think I'm not qualified to do the job. I've got 18 plus years experience just in law enforcement itself, I'm college educated, military background, I think I'm more than qualified to do this position."

Freeman said he wants to put politics aside and get to work.

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