The Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium’s 2016 OK Ethics Statewide Awards recognizes businesses, nonprofits and government entities whose efforts promote Oklahoma values and positively impact its communities. In the category of community impact, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribal Police Department was honored for its influence in the communities it serves in Pottawatomie County.
In a letter recommending the department’s nomination for the awards, Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth wrote that “as the elected sheriff of Pottawatomie County, my office and deputies work hand-in-hand with the CPN police department on a daily basis. Their commitment to an ethical community policing program has benefitted all the people of the county who are sworn to protect and serve.”
In 2012, Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Tribal Police Department implemented a new community policing plan in its 900-square mile jurisdiction based upon four guiding principles:
- Get in front of it – Peace is more important than control. Unfortunately, many if not most police agencies focus more on response than prevention and as a result judge their success by the number of arrests and convictions rather than crime rates and the perceptions of the citizens.
- Make every decision for the right reason – Motive is everything. Every officer must think about “why” they are deciding on a particular course of action. The welfare of the individual and the larger group must be the driving motivation, never the officer’s ego or anger.
- Maintain the highest standards – Behavior is the cornerstone of credibility. The choices officers make both on and off the job are critical to their personal authority and the authority of the institutions they serve.
- Be kind – Do not judge people. Occupying a position of law enforcement authority requires police officers to disagree, intervene and sometimes use force to stop an inappropriate action(s). However, do not be naïve. Police officers are still dealing with very dangerous people and situations.
The purpose of these principles is to help tribal police officers, who in many cases operate as southern Pottawatomie County’s primary first responders, protect and serve the diverse populations and properties of a largely rural jurisdiction. Tribal police officers must also mindfully navigate diverse cultural and economically challenged populations during their shifts, making a cogent set of operating principles key in maintaining trust and cooperation with the people they serve.
“The CPNPD’s focus on engaging all members of the communities we patrol has been beneficial for their officers and our own,” wrote Tecumseh Police Chief Gary Crosby. “When one makes a traffic stop or responds to an emergency call, they know that a sister-agency will be there immediately as back up. This trust has also trickled down to the citizens in our town, who often see tribal police officers as trustworthy as those of the Tecumseh Police Department.”
The Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium is a non-profit, professional organization dedicated to promoting Oklahoma values of integrity at work. With nearly 1,000 individual members representing approximately 200 organizations, chapters in Tulsa and Oklahoma City host monthly luncheon forums on topics related to business ethics. More information is available at www.okethics.org.