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Cotton Co. Resident Upset Over Use of Sheriff Vehicle

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COTTON CO., Okla_ A Cotton County man said his tax money is being used to fight crime in another county, and he is upset.

"Why am I paying for him to take care of Geronimo City business, when he is supposed to be taking care of Cotton County business?" Cotton County resident Mark Woods said.

Woods is talking about Undersheriff David Johnston, who's also the Geronimo police chief. Woods said Johnston regularly drives his Cotton County Sheriff's Department car back and forth to Geronimo to handle calls, so he's asked the county commissioners to look into it.

Cotton County Sheriff Kent Simpson, who wouldn't speak on camera, said Johnston has responded to an incident in Geronimo a couple months ago. He said he was already nearby in his Cotton County vehicle, and Simpson said by county standards, it was wrong for him to do. Simpson said morally, it was the right thing, and now it has been brought up it hasn't happened again. Woods said that isn't the case.

"I have seen that Cotton County vehicle regularly doing things in Geronimo," Woods said. "Just the other night with the fire they had in Geronimo, the Cotton County vehicle is sitting right in the middle of everything."

While Woods had no photos of Johnston out responding in the vehicle, he did have multiple photos of the vehicle at Geronimo's police station.

However, Simpson said he must take his vehicle with him because he is on call in Cotton County 24/7 and continues to insist he only responded once in the Cotton County vehicle. Others in Geronimo speaking anonymously say they have seen him respond in it, one saying he even saw him make an arrest in Geronimo in his Cotton County shirt and vehicle. In a video from a motorcycle accident in July north of Geronimo, he can also be seen in his sheriff's department shirt.

Woods said when it comes down to it, his tax money is not being used how it should be.

"I'm paying taxes here in Cotton County," Woods said. "I expect my area to be patrolled. I don't see it, I just don't see it. I mean, I work rotating shifts, so I am out here constantly, at all hours. I just don't see them coming out here at all."

Before talking to Simpson, Woods was the only one who brought up Johnston had responded to other incidents. Since then, others have spoke to me about it, but Simpson has not returned 7News' phone calls.

Geronimo Council Member and Mayor Ed Mounts, who both say Johnston is using his sheriff's vehicle only to get to the station because he is on call, and at the station he uses his police unit.

Sheriff Simpson added Johnston is helping out Geronimo by being police chief. He said it helps them keep a police department, and he only gets around $30 per month to do so.

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