Reflections on a Life of Service

In the month we celebrate our freedom, our thoughts are with those that serve their community, both at home and abroad. I spoke with Cleveland County Sheriff Todd Gibson about his time serving our country and our community.

Your whole life has been one of service, starting with service in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and continuing in law enforcement, including over 20 years in the Norman Police Department, and now as sheriff. What motivates you?

Throughout my life, I have admired those who would stand up for those who could not stand for themselves. One of my earliest memories was seeing two boys in a field over by my house in Norman, near Cleveland Elementary, bullying another kid. I did not know any of them; however, I went over, stepped in and stood up to the bullies. I personally, and professionally, believe that a life worth living is a life that helps transforms others’ lives and the positively affects the community they live in.

Who were your role models growing up?

My role models growing up were anyone in uniform and my dad. I also had grandfathers that served in WWII whom I admired, and I loved to listen to their stories of war and service to country.

You could live anywhere. Why here?

This is home. I have often said that Oklahoma people are special and some of the nicest people in the world. Cleveland County citizens have seen their share of tragedies, and they not only rise to the occasion, they set the standard for the rest of the country to follow.

What are your greatest challenges/rewards as sheriff?

There are several. The two largest challenges are moving the Sheriff’s Office into the 21st century and implementing modern law enforcement philosophies and strategies regarding service delivery to the community.

I have been rewarded when employees come up and tell me how much better things are and how they feel empowered to make decisions and do their job. I often tell them, “You don’t need permission to do the right thing.” If your decision falls in line with accomplishing our mission, vision and values, then don’t ask, just do it.

“You don’t need permission to do the right thing.”