Monday morning Landy Offolter will begin Phase 2 of a law enforcement career 42 years in the making.
That morning, he will join other McClain County officials in District Judge Leah Edwards’ courtroom to be sworn in as McClain County Sheriff.
He replaces longtime sheriff Don Hewett, whose retirement is effective Friday.
Now 65, Offolter was just 21 when he embarked on Phase 1 of that career.
He joined the Purcell Police Department, staying about a year.
From there, he went to work for then Sheriff Don Smith. He remained with the department for another year.
And then he joined the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, a move that is still opening doors after all these years.
As a trooper he was assigned to Grady County and settled in Chickasha.
At the time, the patrol required troopers to live in the county seat.
He was in Chickasha 11 years.
Offolter also spent six years working security for Governors Henry Bellmon and George Nigh.
In 1990, the Purcell native moved back to McClain County, settling 12 miles west of Purcell in the Washington-Dibble community.
He was a lieutenant when the patrol made him a supervisor in the Size and Weights Division, responsible for all of Oklahoma south of I-40.
By the time he retired in February 2016, Offolter, by then a captain, was the division’s executive officer.
“I enjoyed the highway patrol,” he reflected recently. “Police department work is different from sheriff’s department work. And the highway patrol is very different (from either).”
Still, each afforded an opportunity to engage in community policing before anyone knew what community policing was.
Back in 2016, Offolter thought his law enforcement career was at an end.
He was content to raise a few cattle and bale hay on his 87 acres.
Then in late 2017 Hewett contacted Offolter, asking him to join the department as undersheriff.
Offolter agreed after Christmas that year and started working for the department Jan. 1, 2018.
Eventually Hewett convinced Offolter to file for the sheriff’s post in 2020.
He was the sole candidate.
“I wasn’t planning to be sheriff,” Offolter said.
And he’s not planning any departmental changes as sheriff.
“He’s (Hewett) got a good department here,” Offolter said. “Why fix something that’s not broken?”
That’s not to say there aren’t ongoing concerns.
The McClain County Detention Center tops that short list.
“The jail is probably our biggest issue,” Offolter said. “Every time the health department inspects us, they write us up for overcrowding.”
County voters have twice in recent years turned down proposals to build a new, larger jail.
Offolter has tapped James Goins as his undersheriff. He’s been at the department a long time,” Offolter said.
Depending on his health, Offolter plans to serve two terms.
For relaxation and to decompress, Offolter and his wife, Genise, have made a practice of going to Ontario, Canada every other year to fish and camp in the area 150 miles north of International Falls, Minn.
“If a person likes to fish, I recommend it,” he said.
They had tentatively planned a trip in 2021.
“But we found out our oldest daughter is due then and Grandma nixed the trip,” he laughed.
The Offolters have two daughters and a son, along with nine grandchildren.
Kristi lives at Blanchard and is an RN at Mercy Heart Hospital. Lanae lives at Sulphur.
She and her husband own several funeral homes. Jason lives at Dibble and works as an oilfield electrician.