|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
Tribal police officers sworn in
BY VALERIE REDDELL
ALABAMA-COUSHAT TA INDIAN VILLAGE — One year after the Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Council hired their first police chief, they swore in nine fully certified Texas law enforcement officers that will make up their police department and invited the community in to tour their new police department Saturday. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Police Department began operations Jan. 1 but they have just finished the move into their new offices that were expanded behind the original Tribal Security building. At the ceremony, Police Chief Antonio Ford thanked his staff and others in the community who helped get the new department going. "We're started and we're going to grow to different heights and other levels. I would like to thank all the people, the tribal council and the community that has supported this endeavor," Ford said. "It's an honor for me, again, to be standing here, to have this opportunity and to believe in me as an individual and to bring this police department into existence." "I want to thank the sheriff for bringing his people out and help us get our software installed and things of that nature. Some people would have been selfish and said, no that's your issue. You take care of it. You've been a blessing to us and we hope that you continue our partnership as far as continue to be an asset to the entire county. To my staff, I appreciate all the hard work that you have put into it. We're going to continue moving forward." Tribal Council Chairman Kyle Williams asked Capt. William Jerry to read the law enforcement Code of Ethics before he administered the oath of office to the officers as the Tribal Council members, Sheriff Kenneth Hammack and District Attorney Lee Hon and many tribal members and officers' families looked on. Certified officers with the Tribal police department are: Chief Antonio Ford, Captain William Jerry, Lieutenant Deborah Richardson, Sergeant Makesha Young, Patrolman Craig Battise, Patrolman Garett Blake. Patrolman Christopher Darden. Patrolman John Sikes. And Patrolman K-9 Unit Zachary Williams Following the ceremony Ford said the department will focus on delivering quality customer service to the community — not only to the Alabama- Coushatta Tribe, but to Polk and Tyler counties. "We will treat all individuals with dignity and respect," Ford said. As chief of the department, Ford said he sees one of his tasks is to train these new officers — especially since they come from different cultures — the purpose and meaning of this department. The Alabama-Coushatta Police Department has the unique role of enforcing not only state and federal laws, but also tribal laws, which are similar to city ordinances, many of which are enforceable only on tribal members in a tribal court. Ford is also careful to point out that tribal land is not a place for non-Native Americans to escape from justice. If you have outstanding warrants or are disturbing the peace, the long arm of the law will reach out and touch you on the reservation. "Although the Alabama- Coushatta Police Department has the option of working with the U.S. Attorney's Office and filing cases in federal court, for all intents and purposes, we intend to work with the Polk County District Attorney's Office and Lee Hon, who has been extremely helpful in our efforts to create the police department.