The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) relies on experienced emergency response and preparedness professionals to guide research and development efforts. The First Responder Resource Group (FRRG) fills that role. An all-volunteer working group, the FRRG helps S&T maintain focus on the top-priority needs of responders in the field. This series highlights several FRRG members, offering a glimpse into their daily responsibilities, as well as their ongoing support of S&T technology development.
In the summer of 2015, Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl was approached by a Bureau of Indian Affairs representative and asked whether he would be interested in joining the FRRG. At the time, there were no tribal first responder agencies represented on the FRRG. Buhl humbly accepted the opportunity to represent tribal law enforcement and first responders, knowing firsthand the many logistical and technical challenges fellow responders in his department face on a daily basis.
“The Cherokee Nation has 32 marshals who cover an area of 9,000 square miles, much of it in rural northeastern Oklahoma where cell towers aren’t always in place, and tribal jurisdiction interweaves with other cities and governments,” said Buhl.
There are currently more than 50 law enforcement agencies in the region that have cooperative agreements with the Cherokee Nation. However, Buhl explained there are more municipalities existing within the tribe’s boundaries where they are regularly called in for additional help. A lack of patching between the Cherokee Nation and state, local and federal radio systems, along with infrequent cell service, makes it very difficult to do their jobs.
Buhl has been active with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service for 15 years. During this time, he gained experience by working with patrols, investigations, criminal interdiction and in administration. He is the second constitutionally appointed Marshal of the Cherokee Nation and currently oversees all law enforcement, emergency management and security divisions within the tribe’s jurisdiction.
“The Cherokee Nation is always striving to be a leader for our people, and we feel we have
top notch first responders in place here to protect our tribal citizens,” Buhl said. “Being a member
of the FRRG is a great fit for our tribe, and we’re pleased and humbled to be a part of it.”
Buhl is a veteran with 12 years of service in the United States Army and the United States Air Force. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Langston University and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern State University. Buhl is currently enrolled in a doctorate program at Oklahoma State University for adult occupational education, and he is an adjunct professor with the Criminal Justice department at Northeastern State University.
First responders with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service execute warrants, protect the land and tribal citizens and respond to natural disasters, including recent historic flooding. In December, the Cherokee community banded together to deliver a swift response to help their fellow tribal members in Northeastern Oklahoma, especially in the hard-hit town of Chewey.
Marshals in the Cherokee Nation respond to a wide range of calls. Most calls consist of helping elderly citizens trapped in their homes, some who are urgently in need of dialysis treatment. However, the Marshal Service also has a special operations team that includes SCUBA divers. The team’s divers recovered an individual who drove off a bridge and into Lake Tenkiller in October 2015.
Speaking about his time with FRRG, Buhl explained how he sees his involvement with the group, “I think the FRRG is a great resource for the Cherokee Nation, because it allows our first responders to see emerging trends in technology and can help develop technology fixes, as well as make other recommendations to implement the best and most useful technology into our daily lives to protect our responders and serve our community.”
He continued, “I’d recommend becoming involved with FRRG because it keeps us abreast of any technologies to help serve our people.”
FRRG Project Manager Milton Nenneman was happy to have Marshal Buhl join the FRRG. He shared his thoughts, “Shannon Buhl is a welcomed addition to the First Responder Resource Group. We are happy to work with Native American first responder agencies and know FRRG stands to gain tremendously from their experience. It is my hope that this cooperation will help us address the many challenges these tribal entities face on a daily basis.”
Check back soon for additional FRRG member spotlights. For more information on how to become a member of the FRRG, contact email@example.com.