Tracking an Outlaw with the Lighthorse SWAT

The Oklahoma terrain was a mix of tall grasses, dense…

The Oklahoma terrain was a mix of tall grasses, dense brush and barbed wire fences made it hard to move cross country or find signs of the bad guy ahead of us.

The “Lighthorse” name dates back to 1800s when Native American scouts were commissioned to enforce the law in tribal lands after non-native criminals settled there to escape and evade Federal Marshals who had no jurisdiction in the Indian Nation The commissioned Indian lawmen were called Lighthorsemen or simply The Lighthorse, a name that has become the honored name of tribal police all over the country. The sworn officers successfully cleaned up the Tribal lands and were much respected and feared as a result.

While researching an article for the Harris Publication’s GLOCK Annual, I was participating in a “ride along” with Officer Justin Smith of the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department (LPD). As with all of the less than thirty officers of the LPD, Officer Smith performs many duties, including being an on-call SWAT operator, and wears many hats. Each Officer is cross deputized with over a dozen other Federal, State and municipal agencies and enforces Federal, State and Tribal laws. The Chickasaw Nation does not have a “reservation”, but owns land in a “checkerboard” pattern all over southern Oklahoma comprising an area of responsibility of almost 8,000 square miles.

2-the-brief-before-the-op-from-l-to-r-police-chief-jason-oneal-officer-x-officer-michael-hollowayThe brief before the Op – from L to R Lighthorse Police Chief Jason O’Neal, Officer Brent Harper, Officer Michael Holloway and “Ca’Te” Assistant Chief George Jesse.

The Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Department led by Jason O’Neal, chief of the Lighthorse Police Department, is comprised of six divisions – patrol, K9, investigations, dispatch, SWAT team and DIVE team to better serve both the citizens of the Chickasaw Nation and provide needed support to the surrounding community law enforcement. Proving this point, almost immediately after we started, the Pontotoc County Sheriff’s office requested the LPD SWAT to respond to help in mantracking a well-known outlaw, known for chronic thievery and narcotics trafficking who had bailed from a car following an attempted traffic stop. The fleeing felon had fled into dense brush but not before ejecting from the car a complete methamphetamine lab that was subsequently recovered by the Sheriff’s office. The outlaw had a history of resisting and evasion, so the officers knew that he would try to avoid capture by any means possible, including violence.

A key to the LPD’s exceptional mantracking capability is the team’s K-9 scent dogs who quickly arrived at the established perimeter along with three SWAT operators and the Commander of the LPD SWAT Team, Assistant Chief George Jesse or Ca’Te who is a full-blood Chickasaw trained in mantracking by the Federal Academy and by his Grandfather.

The team quickly changed from their street patrol clothes into their camouflaged 5.11 tactical gear and pulled out their suppressor equipped M4s as a primary weapon to their GLOCK Model 22 sidearms. Luckily I (as always) was wearing my 5.11 tactical gear and boots, so when I was given the opportunity to join the mantracking team, I grabbed my camera and headed into the rough Oklahoma countryside with LPD SWAT.

3-the-team-had-to-clear-several-outbuilding-that-were-potential-hideouts-copyEvery potential hiding place like this barn had to be cleared by the SWAT Team.

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  • Petroleum

    Great job guys…. Who is picking his nose in the last picture. Fail…