Government

ON Police making efforts to be more accessible to community

Police Officers are sometimes stereotyped as arrogant, elitist and donut connoisseurs, but Osage Nation Police Officers said they are working to erase that image.

“Police work is truly about catch real bad guys … not about making someone’s life worse because they made a human mistake,” said ON Police Officer Nick Silva. “We have to know the decision we make can truly affect someone’s life in an instant.”

Osage Nation Police Chief Nick Williams agrees with Silva and wishes people would see ONPD as a positive entity.

“I ask my officers to do their jobs to the best of their ability and they do,” Williams said. “We are not out there to be the bad guy but we got rules to follow too.”

Currently, the ON Police Department has 17 active police officers including the Chief of Police. And there is one officer who is employed by the Osage Nation Attorney General’s Office.

On a typical Saturday night four Osage Nation Police Officers are on duty covering their assigned areas and assisting the Osage County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) when needed.

There is an ON Police Officer who covers the north end and the south end of Osage county. There is also a sergeant on duty and a Rover, which is a senior patrol officer who serves as backup for the officers.

The ONPD assists OCSD on a wide range of calls from traffic accidents to house calls.

Osage County Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Brewer enjoys working with ONPD, he said there have been times when he asked for their assistance and they arrived at the location before him.

“ONPD is a great asset and their presence increases the amount of officers covering the largest county in Oklahoma,” said Brewer.

Williams is delighted to have a positive relationship with OCSD.

“I am glad the OCSO sees us an asset … they have done a good job being there to back us up as well,” Williams said.

Williams has been a police officer for six years and has been ON Chief of Police for 16 months. He said one of the biggest flaws when he became Chief of Police was communication and it was something he wanted to change.

“They [ON Police Officers] should know what is on my plate and I should know what is on their plate,” he said. “We are a family even though we are on different shifts and schedules.”

ON Police Officers are in constant communication with one another when they are on duty.

When they patrol north Tulsa, an area of the Osage Reservation, ON Police Officers are not on the same radio frequency as Tulsa Police Department officers, so it makes it difficult to call for backup, Silva said.

“Usually when I am patrolling north Tulsa I try to make sure another officer isn’t far away just in case I need backup,” Silva said.

Otherwise, the OCSO dispatcher has to relay the message to TPD’s dispatcher who then has to put the message out to TPD Officers.

“It is a timely process and when we make an arrest or are in pursuit we have to know we may be on our own,” he said.

The typical calls ONPD receives at night are regarding fights, drunk drivers, gunshots, domestic violence and auto burglary. They often get intoxicated individuals at one of the Osage casinos causing a scene, Silva said.

“It’s not so much the Natives we deal with, it’s the non-Natives that go to the casinos,” he said.

And until four months ago, when ON Police Officers made an arrest, individuals had to ride in their passenger seat.

“The SUVs we drove didn’t have a cage so we couldn’t put anyone in the back seat,” he said. “But it was very dangerous and uncomfortable having someone you just arrested sit next to you since you don’t know if they were going to spit on you or try to hit you.”

If more than one person was arrested, ON Police Officers had to call for backup. Then they had to take the arrestee to Pawhuska to be placed in jail, which in some cases was a 30 to 40 minute drive.

“Our new cars have a cage … they allow us to have quicker response times and are so much safer for pursuits,” Silva said.

The Osage Nation Congress approved ONPD to purchase new vehicles during the recent Tzi-Tzo Session. They plan to purchase a few more Chevy Caprices as well as a couple of Chevy Tahoes.

ON Police Officers are making an effort to do community policing by going door to door to introduce themselves to residents. Williams said he is proud of the officers because it is a practice that is fading.

“I am glad to see their efforts in making contact with the community and showing their support to keep the safety and welfare of the public as their main priority,” Williams said.

In Williams’ opinion it takes a certain, special individual to be a police officer.

“As scary as it sounds we are walking targets out there – yet we do our jobs to keep the peace of the people,” he said.

“It is about protecting the property and assets of the Osage people,” adds Silva.

Williams would like to team up with the surrounding schools to educate youth on the role of a police officer. He also wants youth to know that officers are here to help.

As well as open their minds to a possible profession in law enforcement or simply furthering their education.

Williams said he is always promoting education among ON Police Officers and is constantly have them go through trainings.

For example, Officer Jake Webb and Officer Terri Silva went through a training to become firearms instructors. They now conduct the firearms training for ONPD twice a year.

There is a lot to being a police officer and unfortunately people don’t get to see that there is a normal human being behind the badge and uniform, Williams said.

“Our goal every day is to get home safely at the end of our shifts,” Williams said.