Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir says cooperating with law enforcement entities outside of his own department provides a practical solution to the daily challenges of covering a large area with limited manpower.
Signing cross-deputation agreements with municipalities in his county as well as with Chickasaw Lighthorse Police started as soon as he was elected to office.
“Cross-deputation was one of the things I ran on,” Weir said. “At that time, we only had 12 sworn positions to cover 1,100 miles. When I ran for office, I said the first thing I’m going to do is get everybody working together.”
He said cooperation is key to ensuring the safety of Grady county residents.
“If we don’t cooperate, we are really limited in what we’re able to respond to and take care of,” he said. “I cross-deputized with Lighthorse Police and all my municipalities. I want them to come out if we need help, and that’s why we’ve done it.”
Weir, a 49-year law enforcement professional, said his department’s interaction with Lighthorse Police officers is almost a daily occurrence.
“Hardly a day goes by that Lighthorse Police don’t assist my deputies,” he said. “They’ll go with them on traffic stops; they’ll pull up and make sure they’re alright. They’ll hear calls go out and volunteer to help.
“I can’t speak highly enough about them. Lighthorse Police are there when you need them.”
Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Chief Mike Manning says cross-deputation 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.”
Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Capt. Chad Hillis says the cross-deputation agreement with Sheriff Weir’s department is equally beneficial to his Newcastle Northern Precinct that covers Grady County, along with McClain and Stephens counties.
“It’s just good to know they are there to help,” Hillis said. “As Sheriff Weir said recently, we all have the radio frequencies between each other and we’re always listening to who needs what.”
Hillis said the agreement Lighthorse Police and Grady County share offers his patrolmen and sheriff’s deputies a certain peace of mind.
“This day and age, everybody’s concerned about the legality issue,” he said. “These agreements being in place, it puts those officers’ minds at ease. When something does happen where they do need to respond, there is no doubt in their minds that legally, they’re covered.
“These agreements are already in place and we’ve done the work to ensure that they can have that ease of mind,” Hillis said.
Sheriff Weir related a recent personal experience in which the cross-deputation agreement demonstrated its effectiveness in a potentially life-threatening situation. He said he was on patrol when an incident occurred in which a resident was threatening harm to himself.
“I wear a uniform just like my deputies,” he said. “I patrol like they do. We had a resident threatening suicide. He was going to kill himself standing at an intersection in one of our county roads.
“A Lighthorse Police officer asked if he could help and I explained to him he didn’t need to ask for permission. He was there lickety-split.”
The tense and potentially life-threatening situation was resolved peacefully.
“The young man knew he needed help. We took him into custody and I transported him to the hospital,” Weir said.
Like the Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Department, Grady County Sheriff’s office is well equipped with a K-9 corps, its own SWAT and dive teams. Still, Weir says it’s good to know additional resources are there if they are needed.
He said he sees no confusion developing as a result of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying the U.S. Congress never disestablished Muskogee-Creek tribal land.
Grady County deputies have applied to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to become federally commissioned.
“But even without that, I’ve already talked to our district attorney. My deputies are going to act in good faith. If they get a call, they are going to take whatever steps needed to get the person into custody. Nobody is going to get away with anything,” he said.