Question Submitted by Thomas, 121719 OKAG, 2019 OK AG 11

Docket Nº:2019 OK AG 11
Party Name:Question Submitted by: The Honorable Laura Austin Thomas, District Attorney, 9th District
Attorney:MIKE HUNTER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA ZACH WEST, ASSISTANT SOLICITOR GENERAL
Case Date:December 17, 2019
Court:Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions
 
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2019 OK AG 11

Question Submitted by: The Honorable Laura Austin Thomas, District Attorney, 9th District

No. 2019 OK AG 11

Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions

December 17, 2019

MIKE HUNTER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA

ZACH WEST, ASSISTANT SOLICITOR GENERAL

¶0 This office has received your request for an official Attorney General Opinion in which you ask, in effect, the following question:

May a county sheriff or deputy sheriff use a credit card issued to the county pursuant to 19 O.S.2011, § 1506 to pay the costs of out-of-county travel to attend law enforcement-related conferences or vendor shows or to receive law enforcement education or training?

I.

BACKGROUND

¶1 Title 19, Section 1506 of the Oklahoma Statutes permits county sheriffs and deputy sheriffs to use a credit card "issued to the county for use by the sheriff's department" to purchase "materials, supplies or services necessary for travel out of the county." 19 O.S.2011, § 1506 (A). Such purchases are limited to "actual expenses for travel out of the county... to perform their official duties [.]" Id. (emphasis added). Section 1506 defines "actual expenses for travel" to mean any "expense for travel by public or private railroads, airplanes, rental cars or other public or private conveyances, fuel, oil, meals, lodging, parking fees and telephone expenses." Id. You ask whether it would be permissible for a sheriff or deputy sheriff to charge a credit card issued pursuant to Section 1506 for travel expenses to attend an out-of-county law-enforcement-related conference, vendor show, or educational or training program. In essence, the question is whether these activities qualify as the sheriff or deputy sheriff "perform[ing] their official duties."

II.

DISCUSSION

¶2 Section 1506 does not itself define the term "official duties." But, in general, "whenever the meaning of a word or phrase is defined in any statute, such definition is applicable to the same word or phrase wherever it occurs, except where a contrary intention plainly appears." 25 O.S.2011, § 2.

¶3 The official duties of a county sheriff in Oklahoma are varied and appear throughout the Oklahoma statutes, ranging from gathering livestock to test for disease, 2 O.S.2011, § 6-100, to serving process, 19 O.S.2011, §545, to inspecting shooting galleries, 63 O.S.2011, § 704. However, the duties most often associated with county sheriffs and their deputies in Oklahoma are "to keep and preserve the peace of their respective counties, [] to quiet and suppress all affrays, riots and unlawful assemblies and insurrections," 19 O.S.2011, § 516 (A), and to "have the charge and custody of the jail of [their] county," id. § 513. 1

¶4 Most pertinent here, Sections...

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