LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The Comanche Nation made history Friday by launching the first Crime Stoppers program in the nation that is focused on federal trust land and American Indian lands.
Although the title only mentions the Comanche Nation, they will investigate crimes for all neighboring tribes.
The Comanche Nation Crime Stoppers will give victims of a crime or those who see a crime being committed a way to report it, and for the crime to be investigated and transferred to the proper legal authority such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Before, the crimes were being reported to agencies such as LPD and the Comanche County Sheriff's Department. Those organizations don't have jurisdiction over the federal and tribal lands, so essentially, the cases were falling through the cracks.
Charles Wells, the chairman of the Comanche Nation Crime Stoppers Board, says Friday felt like a new beginning, because they finally broke ground after working with Crime Stoppers for a year.
"This is the first. This is what we hope will begin to blossom all over Indian country, so this is one of the things that we are looking forward to this is a starting point for crime on Indian lands," Wells said.
Vernon Griffin, the Chief of Police of the Comanche Nation Police, says with only 26 officers and tens of thousands of Native Americans in the area, and hundreds of square miles to cover, it's difficult to catch everything. So, they are turning to the tribal communities to step up and help.
"If somebody has seen something, or somebody has heard something, there are additional eyes and ears that know about situations that go on within the communities, so we go to them and ask them for assistance and we do it by anonymous means and also there are rewards for it," Chief Griffin explained.
R. L. Smith, the coordinator of the Comanche Crimes Stoppers Unit, says the federal and tribal lands often see drug crime and robberies.
"People might be cooking meth on trust lands because they feel like it is unpoliced. There might be crimes for people often stealing cattle off of trust property. A lot of times trust property is leased to non-tribal members and you can also call and report those crimes," Smith said.
The Comanche Nation Crime Stoppers will operate purely off of donations. The tribe is holding their first fundraiser, which is a T-shirt sale for $10 each. If you are in interested helping support Crimes Stoppers bring justice to the tribes, you can purchase a shirt at the Comanche Nation Police Department.
If you would like to call in or report a crime, the number for the Comanche Nation Crime Stoppers is 580-492-1TIP (1847). All calls are anonymous, and you can also use that number to make donations as well.