Marietta, Okla - Love County Sheriff Marty Grisham says his department’s relationship with the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department has benefitted his law enforcement efforts in many significant ways.
A cross-deputation agreement existed before Grisham became sheriff, but he quickly signed an addendum upon assuming office. “I felt like to make it binding, my name needed to be on that addendum,” he said.
“My thought was, and still is, the more (officers) the merrier. If I was cross-deputized with Lighthorse Police, that basically helps by giving me more people to work with, and to work for me if I needed them in cases out here in the county.
“We’ve worked well together the last four years I’ve been sheriff. There have been occasions where I have needed their assistance because of vacations, because of being shorthanded. They have always been ready and willing to assist us with whatever the case may have been, whether it was to take a report for vandalism or a domestic (disturbance) or whatever it was. They have been very helpful.
“Cross-deputization gives a little bit more jurisdictional freedom to everybody, I think, in order to do the job down here,” Grisham said.
“It gives us the jurisdictional freedom to go onto (tribal) property. I think without the cross-deputization, our hands would be tied. We could go in and make sure everybody is safe and keep everybody safe until a Lighthorse officer got there, but we wouldn’t be able to handle that call if we weren’t cross-deputized.”
Grisham said cooperation has been a two-way street. “By the same token, we have also helped them (on tribal property). If they don’t have somebody close by, then our deputies have been able to handle it.
“I think it’s a good partnership. We take care of each other,” he said.
Lighthorse Police Chief Mike Manning says crossdeputation agreements produce partnerships among law enforcement agencies whose ultimate goal is protection of the residents they serve.
“Cross-deputation agreements allow agencies to leverage resources when needed and provide officers and agencies the ability to operate without concern of liability to whether they should or should not have arrested someone because of jurisdiction,” Manning said.
“More importantly, too, they are designed to help the citizens – the people we serve. That’s the main thing. It’s not really so much about what one agency can do for another as it is what all of us can do for the citizens we serve.”
Lighthorse Lieutenant Michael Huff agrees. Huff’s WinStar District covers all or part of five counties, sometimes creating a challenge for its 15-member force.
“If we go from our most extreme property on the west at the Oklahoma-Texas state line, to our most extreme eastern portion around Colbert, it’s probably a two-and-a-half-hour-trip if you had to go from one to the other,” Huff said.
“With our officers having to cover such a wide area, there are times we may be a county or two over and get a call in Love County. We’ll lean on them to get the call and make sure everything is okay before we get there.”
“We work really well with Love County Sheriff’s Department,” he said.
Grisham said valuable resources have accrued from working with the Lighthorse Police Department.
“We’ve had occasion to use their assets quite a bit. We’ve used their K-9 quite a bit down here and we had an occasion to use their SWAT team once.”
Grisham said one of the biggest advantages is the speed in which Lighthorse Police assistance is consistently made available compared to other potential law enforcement partners who may be spread too thin.
Grisham served on Oklahoma’s Highway Patrol for 28 years before Love County voters elected him sheriff. He knows from experience the challenges inherent in covering all four corners of the Sooner State, particularly when it comes to needing the specialized services of, for instance, a tac (or SWAT) team or a dive team.
“The Highway Patrol is scattered all over the state and may take three hours for their tac team or dive team to get here,” he said. “Lighthorse Police take an hour and a half.”
The time difference may be a matter of life and death in certain situations.
“They’re closer, they’re well-trained and I trust their decisions,” he said.
Not all support has been a result of emergencies. Material assets have also been made available.
“We’re a small county and we don’t have a big budget for equipment. I have been able to put lightbars on my cars, extra lights, and cages, things they weren’t going to use again. Because of the partnership we have, I was able to outfit one or two my cars.”
Grisham says there will be no hesitation in enforcing laws in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Congress never disestablished Muskogee-Creek tribal land.
“I don’t see any problems coming up. We’re going to handle business as usual,” he said.