Sheriff’s posse to begin orientations on Oct. 3

The Canadian County Sheriff’s Citizen Posse’s first orientation session will be Oct. 3 in Piedmont.
“What I really want to do is set up a network within each community,” said Sheriff Chris West.
He began the posse after receiving feedback from some county residents, who were interested in volunteer efforts, but didn’t know how to get plugged in.
The posse will also meet in Yukon, El Reno and Mustang throughout October.
To attend the orientations, people must go to ccsheriff.net and fill out an application, where their “assets and resources” will be evaluated.
From there, they must fill out a liability form and an authorization form to complete a cursory background investigation performed by the sheriff’s office.
They will then be given information about orientation.
Ideally, West said he would like Piedmont, Yukon, El Reno and Mustang residents to go to the orientation in their towns to organize by community groups.
“All the people who live in Piedmont are going to be more likely to know what the needs are in their community than somebody who lives in Mustang,” West said.
Participants will learn information about state and constitutional law, as well as information about the sheriff’s office at the orientation.
Nonviolent felons may attend the orientations and be a part of the posse, West said.
“There’s people that might have wrote a hot check 20 years ago, or something else that’s not violent, who want to be involved in benevolent acts of volunteerism that we don’t want to keep out,” West said.
The situations posse volunteers may respond to will vary from tornado clean-up, search and rescue, as well as providing help to individual community members.
“They’ll be support roles,” West said.
Participants of the posse will not have law enforcement authority, West said.
“I’m not going to ask somebody who doesn’t meet the criteria set out by the state and the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training to perform a law enforcement mission,” West said.
Although, those who are qualified to carry weapons under Oklahoma law will be allowed to do so, West said.
There are also some retired law enforcement officers interested in joining the posse, whom may be commissed as reserve officers, he said.
West said the posse is still determining how the sheriff’s office will activate each group.
“A lot of times if you try to line it out, (citizens) come up with a better system to do it,” West said. “I just wanted to be able to identify the people and let some of this occur dynamically.”
While the posse received feedback from more than 500 people, the posse is limited to Canadian County residents.
About 175 residents have registered to attend at least one of the orientations.
The Oklahoma Sheriff’s Posse, a foundation West started last summer, was created to work hand-in-hand with the citizen posse.
For instance, if a Canadian County resident’s window air conditioning unit broke, the foundation could provide the funds to purchase a new one, and the posse could deliver it, West said.
As the communities’ networks develop, they won’t necessarily need the posse, “they can just do it on their own,” he said.

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