By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
UNDATED -- The Muscogee-Creek Nation is taking a big step toward protecting its citizens by now registering sex offenders living on tribal land within its 11 counties.
The Creek Nation will begin tracking sex offenders because right now, if one moves onto tribal land within the Creek Nation's boundaries, the officers don't know it and citizens have no idea if a sex offender is living right next door.
"The Muscogee Creek boundaries include 11 counties, nine full counties," Tim Lawson, Lighthorsemen, said.
The Creek tribal land covers 11 counties and nearly 5,000 square miles. The counties include: Creek, Hughes, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Rogers, Seminole, Tulsa and Wagoner. It's hard to keep track of all of it, especially when sex offenders could be living there.
"We know within the 11 counties, there's 2,500 sex offenders," Lawson said. "We're not sure how many are going to have to register with the nation."
The reason the Creek Nation has decided to start registering sex offenders is to protect children and keep citizens safe. The tribe's police, the Lighthorsemen, will know where offenders live and citizens will too.
Lori Fullbright, The News On 6: "Say, I live here and I've registered with the local agency, it's possible I'll still have to register with the nation?"
Tim Lawson, Lighthorsemen: "It's possible but doubtful."
Lori Fullbright, The News On 6: "What's more likely?"
Tim Lawson, Lighthorsemen: "It's more likely to be those on restricted land or tribal property."
The Lighthorsemen will be meeting and working with an adjoining agency to figure out exactly who must register. They will first ask people to register voluntarily.
"We're going to give everybody an opportunity to obviously volunteer to come in before we have to go out and take police action," Lawson said.
These sex offenders are identified by the prison system as American Indians who currently live within the Creek Nation boundaries, so they could have to register with the tribe. The Tribe thinks this is an important service to offer to a group of people it hasn't been available to in the past.
It all comes down to citizen safety, citizens with the tribe or of a city we adjoin, all about taking care of kids," Lawson said.
The Lighthorsemen hope to have their sex offender registration up and running in the next 30 days.