OKMULGEE, Oklahoma –
Mvskoke Media has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys for information on training given to local law enforcement officers in the Muscogee Creek Nation Reservation.
On Feb. 9 the Hughes County Sheriff posted a letter to the Sheriff’s office facebook page.
This letter announced that the sheriff will no longer be honoring the cross commission with the MCN Lighthorse, citing the sheriff’s belief that the Tribe either refused or was unable to assist on tribal calls in Hughes County.
Sheriff Marcia Maxwell justified her actions by detailing that the Sheriff’s office budget had been “slashed this fiscal year and we are unable to accommodate the requirements the MCN has put forth on our officers regarding their calls for service.”
In addition, Maxwell asserts that native suspects arrested by the Hughes county police are rarely prosecuted and very rarely spend any time in jail.
The Sheriff relates an anecdote of a suspect that she personally arrested that later “walked free”.
Interim MCN Attorney General Kyle Haskins responded to this letter on Feb. 15, in an attempt to address some of the allegations put forth by the Sheriff.
Haskins details that the Sheriffs decision could potentially open Hughes county officers to civil liability as they cannot be protected by the good faith exception in the performance of their duties.
The Interim MCN AG also points out that the duties of the Hughes County Sheriffs office will not change if they exit the agreement, so it is unclear how it could be a cost saving measure.
Haskins also states that Maxwell had not contacted the Nation with her complaints or plans to leave the agreement, and the MCN AG’s office learned of the letter through the media.
Haskins letter also asserts that the Hughes County Sheriff’s office has not accepted any of the training or meetings provided by the MCN AG’s office to facilitate the implementation of the cross deputization agreement.
Haskins also addresses the accusation that a Native suspect “walked free”, stating that the individual in question was charged with two criminal counts, and bonded out of custody.
Later the individual violated his bond by failing to appear in court, which resulted in an active bench warrant for his arrest.
This and other statements by local and Tribal officials seem to call into question how local, tribal and federal law enforcement officers and agencies interact on the ground inside the boundaries of the MCN reservation.
The US Department of Justice National Indian Country Training Initiative developed an online training for officers in the wake of the McGirt decision, which consists of an online course followed by a competency test.
Mvskoke Media contacted Leslie A. Hagen, the National Indian Country Training Coordinator and Assistant Chief Learning Officer for the DOJ for information on what this training consists of.
Hagen referred Mvskoke Media to Wyn Hornbuckle, Deputy Director of Public Affairs with the DOJ, who then referred us to Lennea Montadon, Public Affairs Officer with the Norther District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorneys Office.
Montadon then referred Mvskoke Media to the Eastern District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorneys Office, where we contacted Kevin McCrory and Doug Horn, but received no response.
At this point, Mvskoke Media filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. DOJ for all training materials for the law enforcement training course “Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country training program”, specifically training given to local Non-Native law enforcement in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation jurisdiction.
Mvksoke Media will have updates when we receive the documentation from this request.