YORK COUNTY, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – For the first time in the Catawba Nation history a tribal police department is being formed to protect and serve more than 3,500 tribal members. As well as building relationships with tribal members.
A retired police chief from Central New York along with a former lieutenant from the York County Sheriff’s Office have been charged with creating a department that will concentrate on community policing to meet the needs of the tribal community.
Director of Public Safety, Shawn Butler and Deputy of Public Safety, Mike Ligon are both non tribe members but say they’ve been welcomed into the reservation with open arms.
Butler, a retired police chief with 25 years of law enforcement experience under his belt, says the tribe’s goal is to implement its own Justice System using something called restorative Justice.
Butler says the department will consist of 16 officers, providing services around the clock.
With a community that has been hit by poverty and the Opioid Epidemic, Butler along with his deputy director Mike Ligon, who also has more than 2 decades of experience in law enforcement in York County, including its drug unit hope to help those who may be addicted to drugs and even create future officers within the tribe.
Director of Public Safety, Shawn Butler adding they plan to mentor youth within the community and hopefully one day they will join the department.
Currently the York County Sheriff’s Office patrol’s the Reservation.
In July of this year, Butler says they partnered with the York County Sheriff’s Office to contract deputies to provide additional law enforcement services to the Nation.
After the department is established, they plan to still partner with surrounding agencies.
Ideally they would like to have their first officers patrolling the reservation by mid year 2023.
Butler says The Catawba Nation has an amazing opportunity with the development of their casino enterprise to now have funds that haven’t been in the tribe before to build justice services and other services that meet the needs of the people.