Officer an ‘overachiever’ thanks to passion for his work

CONTRIBUTED BY KC Cole, Media Relations.

This article appeared in the December 2014 edition of the Chickasaw Times

ADA, Okla. - Chickasaw citizen Sgt. Dusk Monetathchi cuts a striking image of a Lighthorse policeman in his dress uniform and iconic campaign hat. At 6’2” and a fit 230 pounds, Sgt. Monetathchi would be intimidating without his soft-spoken ways and quick smile.

With over 14 years of experience, Sgt. Monetathchi began his career in law enforcement as a reserve Johnston County, Oklahoma deputy. A youth pastor at his church, the county sheriff recognized Sgt. Monetathchi’s empathy for others and gift for diffusing difficult situations. He later began working full time as a police officer for the City of Kingston, Okla.

“I was a youth minister before I became involved in law enforcement,” Sgt. Monetathchi said. “I guess the sheriff of Johnston County liked the way I worked with teens at my church, he thought I would be good with people. He convinced me to become a reserve deputy. I enjoyed the work, so here I am now.”

Law enforcement is a second career for Sgt. Monetathchi within the Chickasaw Nation. He began working for the tribe more than 21 years ago with youth programs. When the Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Department was reestablished in 2004, he jumped at the chance to become its first officer.

According to Sgt. Monetathchi, working for the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department is a dream come true. He has seen the force grow from a small department housed in a trailer behind Chickasaw headquarters building into one of the best equipped and trained tribal police departments in the nation.

“I was excited to start working  for the Lighthorse Police Department,” he said. “It was the first department I worked for that gave me my own police unit. It was second hand, but it was mine. You should see what I drive now. Our equipment is some of the best in the state and our training top notch. I can’t believe how far the department has come in such a short time.”

Working in law enforcement has allowed Sgt. Monetathchi to grow personally and professionally.

Sgt. Monetathchi was the first Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse police officer to attend the federal Indian Police Academy in Artesia, N.M. Setting the bar high for future officers, he led his class of 58 and earned the prestigious Director’s Award while attending the rigorous 16-week academy.

Sgt. Monetathchi was nominated to receive the award by police academy instructors. His nomination was approved by his fellow cadets.

“I knew the training at the academy was going to be tough,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was up to it at my age. My family encouraged me to accept the challenge. I was 35 when I went through the academy. The physical training is designed for cadets half my age. It took a lot of prayer to find the strength to make it through the training.”

He was presented the honor of saying the prayer during academy graduation ceremonies and hearing seasoned police officers address him not as “Cadet Monetathchi,” but as “Officer Monetathchi.”

Sgt. Monetathchi appreciates the importance of continuing education. Like all police officers in Oklahoma, he must annually satisfy state accreditations, field work and classroom hours. He has taken courses at Hillsdale Baptist College and East Central University to satisfy these requirements.

“It is important for police officers to continually update their skills. Our job is much more than patrolling and investigation,” Sgt. Monetathchi said. “We learn people skills and what laws have been updated and changed during the year. We learn how to keep ourselves and those we come into contact with safe. Lighthorse officers go beyond state requirement. We train and recertify many of our skills every six months instead of annually.”

Sgt. Monetathchi completed reserve officer basic training school at Seminole State College in Seminole, Okla. He has also completed Oklahoma’s Council on Law Enforcement and Training, better known as CLEET.

Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police officers are often first responders to fire and other natural disasters. Sgt. Monetathchi is certified in Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) for light search and rescue operations. He later participated in Oklahoma’s CERT instructors training programing provided by the Oklahoma City Firefighter Training Facility. This training enabled him to share additional safety knowledge to police officers and employees of the Chickasaw Nation.

As one of the members of the eight-man Chickasaw Dive Team, Sgt. Monetathchi is a certified SCUBA diver. The Dive Team is responsible for search and recovery of evidence, property or victims of drowning. With few law enforcement officers with SCUBA experience, the team is often called upon to assist other agencies across the state.

Committed to the youth of the Chickasaw Nation, Sgt. Monetathchi is a certified D.A.R.E. and Gang Resistance Education and Training officer. He is often invited by public schools to interact with children to teach the dangers of drug use and gangs.

Sgt. Monetathchi makes time in his schedule to participate in two youth camps sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation. These include Yakni Moma Alphisa (Court Camp) and Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Youth Academy. The relationships Sgt. Monetathchi builds between law enforcement and children last a lifetime.

“Working in the community lets children see us (police officers) as people, not just a uniform issuing their parents tickets,” Sgt. Monetathchi said. “I have been on calls where there were children that I have worked with before. It was much easier for them to talk to me when they had seen the uniform in a positive light before.”

One of his most rewarding experiences while working for Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department included being selected to work with fellow officers on the Pine Ridge and Standing Rock Reservations in North and South Dakota.

Responding to a request for assistance from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Sgt. Monetathchi was one of nine Lighthorse officers sent to the reservations. The officers worked long hours and averaged a stay of 30 days on the reservations. In recognition of their service, each of the officers was presented with a Special Agent in Charge award from the BIA.

“The time spent on the Pine Ridge and Standing Rock Reservations was amazing. I enjoyed the people so much I volunteered to go twice,” Sgt. Monetathchi said. “It was hard on the department for us to go and everyone had to contribute, but we managed. While we were gone officers who stayed covered our shifts. It was a team effort by the department for us to go.”

Through the actions of these dedicated officers, the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department received a Policing Partnership Award from the BIA.

Sgt. Monetathchi has dedicated himself to public service, sometimes at personal expense. Law enforcement is a career known to put stress on family relationships. He credits his strong family for his successful career.

“Law enforcement can be tough on a family. My success is due to my family’s understanding,” Sgt. Monetathchi said. “At times there are long hours plus being called in to work when I am scheduled off is just part of the job. Sometimes it’s a dangerous job. My wife, Robin, supports me and my career daily.”