News > Press Releases > Press Release

Press Release

Release Date: January 31, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Braving frigid water temperatures of Lake Tenkiller, five Chickasaw Lighthorse Department officers obtained their basic open scuba water certification.

Oklahoma has numerous lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers that provide families with an array of water sports, including swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking and other activities. With thousands of miles of shoreline, crime and accidents are sure to occur. The Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Dive Team is prepared to address these concerns, and much more.

“Recovery has become our main goal as a dive team,” said Daniel Cloud, investigator for Chickasaw Lighthorse Police. “Most of the time when we get called out, it is to recover items. This can be cars, criminal evidence or even people who have perished.”

Investigator Cloud was one of the five to obtain his basic open water certification, along with Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Officers Dakota Hanks, Austin Ahl, Jon Edwards and Sgt. Ryan Massengale.

The basic open water certification ensures the officers are confident in and around water. The basics of scuba diving are taught to new divers during certification. The course also refreshes certified seasoned divers’ training.

“It is our job to recover what’s been lost,” Investigator Cloud said. “Using a scientific process, we are trained to safely determine if something is within a body of water.”

The Chickasaw Lighthorse Department Dive Team was established in 2006. Lighthorse dive team members complete regular trainings and annual recertification to maintain proficiency in all aspects of water recovery and rescue.

Using state-of-theart techniques and equipment, the dive team performs water rescues and assists neighboring law enforcement agencies in recovery of victims, vehicles and evidence.

During the certification, Lighthorse divers were taught how to assemble and use basic scuba gear, manage buoyancy and handle common diving problems. Training is an important stage of preplanning for any dive. Preplanning prepares divers for the highest success rate when called out to a police investigation.

Most Oklahoma waters are considered “dark water” within the dive industry, meaning visibility is extremely poor. Divers are often not able to see anything more than 6 inches away from the face.

During training with indoor pools or other clear waters, dive trainers may duct tape goggles of trainees to simulate blackout conditions of the waters found in the field.

“I consider dark water as not being able to see my hand in front of my face,” Investigator Cloud said. “It is the equivalent of turning off the lights in your bedroom at night and trying to walk across the room.”

Safety is the most important reason for training. According to information from the U.S. Department of Justice, police divers agree the biggest danger is entrapment while underwater. Hypothermia is also a major concern, along with knowing how deep and long a diver can stay under water. Training builds confidence, translating into divers not panicking if serious situations occur.

In addition to search and rescue duties, dive team officers are accomplished investigators. They retrieve evidence from Oklahoma’s waters, and like other investigators, they are trained how to collect and store evidence properly.

The dive team is one of two specialized teams within the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department. There are currently six certified divers and one administrative officer who oversees the teams’ operations. As a specialty team within Lighthorse, officers who desire to become members of the dive team must first meet additional team requirements.

“It’s a challenge to be on the dive team,” Investigator Cloud said. “We have had officers who try out and realize they just aren’t comfortable not being able to see while under water. The nature of our work means we get called out during holidays, often during freezing temperatures. The dive team isn’t for everybody.”

It is considered an honor to be selected for the dive team. Dive team members come from all divisions within the police department. It requires a calm, collected personality to be submerged alone in Oklahoma’s cold, dark water diving conditions. Dive team members wear a special badge on their uniform designating them as divers.

“We are not trying to make a Navy SEAL, but we do have tryouts testing physical and mental toughness,” Investigator Cloud said. “We have (prospective) divers tread water, complete a 500-meter swim and pick up heavy objects from the bottom of the pool and bring them to the surface. It is challenging. We also test mental toughness while in the water. Divers must complete diving certifications, as well as an annual physical fitness test.”

About the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department

“Lighthorse” is a historic name given by the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Muscogee and Seminole nations. Once removed to Indian Territory, these tribes created elite Lighthorse police to serve and protect their citizens.

The Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department was reestablished in 2004. It strives to protect the lives and property of the people served, reduce crime, preserve peace and provide a safe environment while working in partnership with local communities to enhance their quality of life.

“The Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department is the tribal law enforcement arm of the Chickasaw Nation,” Investigator Cloud said. “We serve as state, tribal and federal law enforcement within the counties of the Chickasaw Nation treaty territory.”

The treaty territory encompasses 7,648 square miles, including all or parts of 13 counties: Bryan, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Grady, Jefferson, Johnston, Love, Marshall, McClain, Murray, Pontotoc and Stephens. The Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department is divided into three precincts: WinStar, Ada and Newcastle, where approximately 100 fulltime sworn officers provide law enforcement services.

Five divisions and two specialized teams were created to better serve citizens of the Chickasaw Nation and provide support to surrounding law enforcement communities. Divisions include patrol, K-9, criminal investigations, communications and professional standards. Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and the dive team make up the special teams.

The SWAT and dive teams provide a vital asset to Oklahomans by providing resources during times of crisis. The teams were designed to assist within the Chickasaw Nation and in neighboring areas.

Th e SWAT team provides a ready response to tactical situations such as hostage situations, suicide interventions and other high-risk incidents. The dive team helps in recovery of victims, vehicles and/or evidence as well as water rescues. For more information about the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department, visit