As the number of organized protests grow, so does the number of locally-organized militia groups.
Recently, the creation of one such group in Inola garnered the attention of Sheriff Scott Walton.
The organizer of the group, Dylan Hodges, posted to local Facebook pages saying: "I am starting a local militia group in our area. At this moment in American history we need to stick together and teach each other what we know, and learn new things together. We will eventually be doing normal combat training, medical training, and even advanced classes for those interested. I want to get to where we can do a neighborhood watch in town. I know we have been having minor problems in town, so let's get together and help our police officers in town and ask them if they need anything…It's in our constitution to have a well-regulated militia, so please come join us."
Hodges said, “I am wanting to get this community together. There is so much going on right now in this world we need to stick together, teach each other new things we know that they may not know, and learn new things together. Things like the proper way to handle a firearms, when and when not to use them, proper medical techniques for emergencies, and keeping up on the laws in this nation.”
He added, “There is a lot that goes into a militia. Im still in the beginning stages of getting it going.”
When asked about personal military or law enforcement experience Hodges said, “I was raised by a Marine and I’ve been going through training classes for years.”
He said the group held their first meet and greet over Labor Day weekend.
“I am in the middle of setting up a training class as we speak,” he said. “And the response has been good. Im going to do one more meet and greet here soon.”
When asked what he says to people who think this type of group is dangerous, Hodges said, “They just need to come to a meet and greet so they can see for themselves. Its all in how it is ran.”
"Anytime embody understands and aligns with the fact that law enforcement has their job cut out for them, and they want to help and work with us, that certainly gets my attention in a very, very positive way," said Sheriff Scott Walton. Walton added that he thinks groups like this are meeting with the best of intentions.
"Right now, I have concerns for these individuals as far as liabilities and the possibility of lawsuits. Scrutiny of making decisions on use of force or especially deadly force comes with scrutiny beyond imagination," he said. "And society is quicker to file lawsuits these days."
Walton added, "There's a lot of things that have to be dealt with an even with all the training we get the decision are hard to make. I am concerned about the role that some of these people may consume and how aggressive. I love to see well armed citizens secure and protect their homes and families, and even their neighbors if need be. I like the idea of them begin the eyes and ears of the police department not the enforcers of the law."
He said enforcement of the law needs to be left to those who are equipped and trained for it.
"Effectiveness of the ability to function in a group like this is proportionate to the quality of the folks involved," Walton said. "The people in these groups can make them effective or they can make them dangerous."
Inola Police Chief Brad Craig said he appreciates the thought, but isn't sure his town or department need the assistance.
"I'd say most law enforcement is a little nervous about it because we're not sure what the agenda is for these groups. What's the purpose of it?" he said. "We often need public assistance, but not necessarily in this way. It's a delicate issue, we want assistance but we need all parties involved to understand the parameters."
He added that local militia groups like this one are not sanctioned by the police department.
"No, there's no reason for it to exist in Inola, I'm not sure we need it," Craig said. "I appreciate the thought, but run it by your police department first. If you support them and want to help, have a dialogue and ask what they need help with and in what way."