Retiring Kingfisher County Undersheriff Barry Reilly tells All About Kingfisher his story.


By Sara Jane Richter

Kingfisher County has had the privilege of employing Barry Reilly, a true gentleman, for the past forty years.  Starting out as a part-time dispatcher/jailer in 1984, Reilly worked his way through the ranks to serve as Kingfisher County Undersheriff for twenty years.  Now, Reilly sees retirement on the not-so-distant horizon.

His dream of becoming a law enforcement officer started in his childhood.  He knew as he matured that he wanted to help others, and that goal has directed his career.  Growing up in Clinton, Oklahoma, his family built and ran a local roller-skating rink there.  He attended what is now known as Southwestern Oklahoma State University post-high school graduation, and there, he met his wife, Hennessey native and public school teacher, Kathy Beaman on campus.  He worked as an auxiliary officer in Clinton until he decided to shift gears.

In 1977, he and his family moved to a family farm and dairy near Lacey, and for a spell, he helped run his wife’s family dairy before he secured his own dairy herd.  After being in the milk business, he worked as a carpenter and cabinet maker.  With a growing family of three daughters—Sharine, Lacey, and Rashelle—Reilly believed that making a true career move was his best plan for the future.  That dream of law enforcement grew into a reality in 1984.  After eighteen months, he became a full-fledged deputy and completed CLETE Academy training in 1986 and worked under the direction of Sheriff Coye Barker and Undersheriff Roy Lee.  At the time, the county employed only four deputies.

By the time he became a deputy, he’d undergone many hours of training, but the real world of law enforcement always didn’t follow the classroom theories and pedagogy.  Reilly indicated that his real education came “on the streets” with practical experience, common sense, and knowing law.  His hours of study continue and still pay off, and he still puts in the time to grow with his ever-changing field.  Reilly still loves his job as it throws challenges at him daily, and he constantly faces new situations and dilemmas.

Since Reilly has been Undersheriff, he has counseled, interviewed, and hired many officers to serve and protect the county’s 906 square miles.  In working with fellow officers, Reilly emphasizes fair play, honesty, and kindness.  He believes that the best officers possess a sixth sense about their field work and that they don’t come to work only to receive a paycheck.  Instead, they come to work intending to help others in need.  If an officer does not have that uppermost in mind, that officer probably won’t stay in law enforcement for very long.  He always cautioned the officers of his office to make sure that any case that they investigated had no missing parts, had no loopholes, and had the legs to stand up in court.  He has served as a great mentor to other officers for many years.

Some of his cases have been most interesting.  For example, he had a missing persons case that befuddled all investigators until the very end when buried bones of the missing person provided the DNA match that he’d needed for years to pursue the now murder case.  Too, he has tackled animal cruelty cases and even saved a prisoner attempting suicide in a jail cell.  He never discharged his service weapon, but he has drawn it more than once in the line of duty.

The majority of investigations do not involve pretty circumstances or easily solved crimes.  He believes that he’s been blessed with the ability to leave work at work and does not “take it home” at night even though he’s a self-confessed worrier.  Reilly never really experienced fear in his work, but he readily admits that he has prayed a lot—off and on cases.

He insists that he’s “old school” and seems proud of that.  Yes, new techniques of detection and investigation are important and always improving, but “the old ways” still work pretty darned well too.  That’s something else that young officers can learn from him–there’s more than one way to solve a case.  Applying a few psychology tricks also helps officers solve cases and get the win.  

Barry Reilly’s lifestyle will radically change and calm down once he retires.  He plans to do things that he wants to do on his own time.  He intends to tackle a few home improvements and clean out his shop to turn it into a man cave featuring carpentry tools.  Of course, his seven grandchildren will play an even more important role in his life.  Barry and Kathy will enjoy each other’s company and travel to US locations they’ve never experienced and learn some history along the way; both are history buffs.  

As he leaves his office later this spring, he’d like to be remembered as someone who cared deeply for the residents of Kingfisher County, who did the right thing, and who worked for the good of the county.  He rests well knowing that he had a great, full, and satisfying career.  He will miss his work, and Kingfisher County will miss the man’s fair play, compassion, and respect.  The next time you see Undersheriff Reilly thank him for his years of service by shaking his hand and giving him a well-deserved hug.