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No weapons for Lawton Sentinels

LAWTON, Okla._After the deadly shooting in Tulsa this month involving a reserve officer, many of our viewers were concerned about whether sub-departments of the Lawton Police Department also carried weapons.

The Lawton Sentinels are a volunteer police force that is trained and valued by LPD. Their purpose is to shoulder some of the routine work normally done by Lawton police officers. They do not carry guns, night sticks, or Tasers, but sentinels are equipped with a flashlight, fingerprinting kit and a camera.

Linda Kenyon has been with the Sentinels for the last two years and said she has never been in a situation where she felt like she needed a weapon, because LPD would never put a Sentinel in a position to need one.

“Weapons, of course, in our line of duty is not needed," Kenyon said.

Kenyon said Sentinels serve minor subpoenas, act as funeral escorts, direct traffic and respond to reports that don't involve dangerous suspects.

"We always have our flashlight if needed for vicious dogs, is what we're more afraid of than anything," she said.

Kay Carney, the Sentinels coordinator, said during training the Sentinels learn the protocol for situations they feel may be turning south.

"If we have a sentinel who feels like their life is in danger by somebody getting mad or whatever, then you just get on your radio and you call dispatch and tell them you need assistance, and within a couple minutes you'll have more officers there than you can count,” Carney said.

Kenyon said she feels good knowing that she is able to help with some of the minor calls so that LPD officers are able to focus on more important matters.

"Getting out there and being an example for our youth and our society and helping the officers in every way I can, gives me self-satisfaction," Kenyon said.

Kenyon also works as a clerk for LPD and said she sees firsthand how busy the officers are.

"Some of the more minor things we take care of takes some of the burden, and they appreciate everything we do for them and they tell us that daily," Kenyon said.

The Sentinels have been in operation for more than 20 years. In that time, Carney said they have only had one injury. Ironically enough, it was caused by a Sentinel who fell on her own flashlight causing her to break her hip.

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