Lighthorse SWAT team finishes third in competition

Release Date: May 17, 2013

by Gene Lehmann

  • Chickasaw Lighthorse Police SWAT team members are, left to right, Cpl. Clint Sutton with K-9 Lena, officer Justin Smith, left of shield; officer Michael Holloway, standing on rear of armored vehicle; Lt. Gary W. Dodd, center standing behind shield; officer Terrance Bush, standing inside of armored vehicle; officer Andy Hill, kneeling to the right of shield; officer Jose Ramirez, standing next to armored vehicle’s passenger door, and Cpl. Terry Laxton with K-9 Bako. Not pictured is team member officer Jeremy Spradlin.

Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Chief Randy Wesley is celebrating National Police Week with a big smile on his face.

His department is enjoying success, recognition and the respect of his peers as it works with other law enforcement agencies to protect and serve all the citizens in Chickasaw Country.

One example is the Lighthorse Police Department SWAT team finishing third in a statewide competition.

An acronym for “Special Weapons and tactics, the SWAT team competition included several components for scoring. They include hostage rescue, an obstacle course, and proficiency with three types of weapons: pistol, carbine and shotgun, according to Lighthorse Police SWAT team leader Lt. Gary Dodd.

Scores were averaged in all phases of competition to name a winner. This year, approximately 100 officers competed, Dodd said.

“The competition is a way for us to hone our skills to better ourselves,” Dodd said. “It is also about networking with other departments to build relations between communities both inside and outside the Chickasaw Nation.”

The LPD prepare monthly with physical, tactical and shooting training. The team is open to any LPD officer who has two years of law enforcement training or equivalent military training. Participation is also based on performance of daily duties, physical requirements and weapons qualification.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said that the performance of the Lighthorse SWAT team is one example of the dedication and commitment of the officers.

“Recognition of the SWAT team is confirmation that the Lighthorse officers today are upholding a long tradition of law enforcement excellence,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “When the Chickasaw Nation had sole jurisdiction over this area, Lighthorsemen were the only law enforcement agency serving the citizens of this area. Today, the LPD officers work closely with a number of other agencies to serve and protect all the citizens who live in the Chickasaw Nation.”
Chief Wesley said that the dedication to excellence he sees among his officers is due in large part to the excellence and professionalism that is prevalent among employees throughout the Chickasaw Nation.
“The image and expectation of professionalism demonstrated throughout the tribe also flows down to us,” Wesley said of his police department. “It is my expectation of my officers to portray that same image of professionalism, appearance and the reputation that I want them to (illustrate) with anyone who has had the opportunity to deal with -- and have a positive experience -- with a Lighthorse officer,” he said.

Sometimes it’s a tall order, Wesley notes by adding “most of the time when people have to call the police, it’s not going to be a positive experience.”

Lighthorse is a historic name given by the Five Civilized Tribes to their mounted police force. Once removed to Indian Territory, the Five Civilized Tribes created the elite Lighthorse police.

The Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department, re-established in 2004, has grown to include 41 sworn uniformed and investigative officers, two dual-certified narcotic K-9 Units, a Dive team and a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.  Lighthorse officers have been part of several cooperative law enforcement initiatives in southern Oklahoma.

Through partnerships with other law enforcement agencies in the tribal territory, LPD is playing an important role to help protect and serve all citizens living within the territory.

Lighthorse officers are cross deputized with 47 county and municipal agencies located within the Chickasaw Nation, Wesley said. While the police force often does not have jurisdiction over non-Natives, it routinely helps other agencies with law enforcement matters involving non-Natives within its jurisdiction through the cross commissions.

“Say we have a subject who has committed an assault in our jurisdiction but who isn’t Native American. We can arrest the individual and transport them to a partner agency. Through our cooperative efforts, we can take action to protect the public and then transfer them to the appropriate agency,” Wesley explained.

Wesley, who was named chief by Gov. Anoatubby in November 2012, praised his police officers for their dedication and devotion to service.

“The Lighthorse officers are highly professional and are dedicated,” Wesley said, adding many officers are now seeking employment with LPD from outside agencies. “They give of themselves and their dedication overlaps their personal life,” the chief said.

Last Updated: 06/5/2013