Emergency services like police, fire and rescue provide for the safety and well-being of a community and its citizens. Across the state, tribal nations are forming partnerships with their local departments to assist where they can — whether it’s providing manpower to help address immediate threats and needs or through donations that go toward the purchase of life-saving equipment.
Rogers County in northeast Oklahoma has densely populated rural areas and small municipalities within the county. “It puts the focus of the responsibility to serve the masses of the people on the sheriff’s office,” notes Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton. “Our staffing levels, our vehicles, our investigative unit, even our detention facility, struggles to keep up with those demands.”
The good news for Walton and the citizens of Rogers County is that they have willing partners in the area’s tribal nations. “We’re fortunate to be able to network, cross paths, share responsibilities, missions and goals.”
We’re all kind of interchangeable. We’re going to help when help is needed and they’re going to help us when we need help.
The same is true in Ada. Police Chief Carl Allen points to the many times calls stack up or a case requires additional manpower. Thanks to a cross-deputization between the Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Department and the sheriff’s office, Ada residents are always able to get immediate help. It’s a relationship Allen describes the relationship as “not only partners, but friends.”
The Ardmore Police Chief understands the manpower need all too well. “Like any police department or sheriff’s office, it seems like you never have enough officers.” Grace also partnered with the tribes and cross-deputized the tribal marshals in his area. “We can always call upon them any time to help us and vice versa,” says Grace. “It’s a great partnership and I hope it never ends.”
Tribal nations are helping communities not only by providing boots on the ground, but something equally as important — the funds to purchase new equipment for emergency responders. Thanks to a contribution from the Delaware Nation, the Anadarko Fire Department now relies on a thermal imaging camera to see through smoke and rescue potential victims quicker.
Another donation helped purchase a brush truck which is used for grass and land fires. “Having that piece of equipment enables us to have a better response, and a safer response, so that we can minimize the threat,” says Fire Chief Greg Scott.
A lot of times the tribe can help us get resources quicker from the state. They’re a vital part of our community and we definitely depend on them.
It’s a great partnership and I hope it never ends.
We all want the same thing. We want to be safe in our homes, we want to be safe in the workplace, we want to be safe in school. And I think we all share that.
All those entities work together pretty seamlessly depending upon the needs and what kind of calls we have going on.
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