Coushatta Tribe Police adds certified officer - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Coushatta Tribe Police adds certified officer

The Coushatta Tribe is well-known across southwest Louisiana, but what do you know about them or their police department?

Did you know almost a third of their employees are females? Or that only three of the officers are actual Coushatta Indians?

In fact their newest police academy graduate, Ashley Langley, is the only full Indian on the force.

There's only 20 employees at the Coushatta Tribe Police Department and six of them are females.

"People expect you not to do as well because you're a female, but it's not like that at all," said patrol officer Chrystal LeJeune. 

All members of the department enforce the laws, just like any other law enforcement agency. But officers must enforce tribal law as well.

"One thing that we deal with are tribal members, if they commit a crime on tribal grounds, either at the casino or here at the reservation, they go through tribal court," said shift supervisor Sergeant Justin Morrow. 

Stuart John, one of the three Coushatta Indians on the force, stresses that their department is really no different than city police, sheriff's office or state police.

"They think that the sovereign nation of the tribe puts them at a different prospect of what's going on," said John. "They don't realize that we have laws here and the police department is here to enforce them."

But being a tribal member and an officer can be difficult.

"We are out here, all related," said LeJeune. "Most of us. When it comes to having to deal with one of our own family members or tribal member, that does come into play."

The department's newest certified officer, Ashley Langley, took a position with the police department hoping to make a difference.

"I want to improve the relationship between the Coushatta Police Department and the Coushatta tribal members," said Langley. 

She thinks there's a lot of work to be done.

"I don't feel like they have a relationship between the police force and the tribal members like they should and I think it can be improved," said Langley.

Langley hopes to eventually become a detective, something she said she's dreamed of since high school.

She will stay in dispatch for now, but hopes to eventually move to patrol.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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