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Okarche hires new police chief

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Mark Sterling.
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Top cop has 'Sterling' military, civilian record

OKARCHE, Okla. – Mark Sterling, a highly-decorated military veteran and civilian law enforcement officer, has been hired as Okarche’s new police chief effective March 31.

Town Administrator Richard Raupe said Sterling’s credentials are impressive, making him the most qualified person to fill the chief’s vacancy.

“I think it’s exactly what we needed,” he said. “He has an outstanding resume. He’s worked in large and small departments. He’s well versed at how things work in a small community and he will be a super asset to the community.”

Sterling currently is a deputy for the Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Department, where he has held a commission the past 10 years, Raupe said. Sterling’s starting salary will be $47,000.

“He’s going to be very visible and approachable. One of the officers will pick up and respond 24-7 when a resident calls. He is going to take this department in a new direction,” the town administrator said.

One of the most significant challenges for the new chief will be traffic enforcement, especially along State Highway 81, which is the second most-traveled north-south route in Oklahoma.

“He’s going to make sure people slow down coming through town,” Raupe said. “The new elementary school will be one block west of the highway.”

Truck traffic may increase if the next predicted oil and gas boom takes off in Blaine and Kingfisher counties.

“Yes, it will get worse. With more oil and gas activity comes more trucks,” Raupe said.

Sterling’s military and law enforcement credentials are numerous. He has served as a certified police officer for more than 38 years and has an advanced law enforcement certificate with more than 3,000 hours of state certified training. He is considered an expert in traffic reconstruction, blood spatter analysis, radar systems and has been a traffic death crime scene instructor.

He has been nominated twice for the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor and two Congressional Medals of Valor for heroism for his part in the rescue efforts following the April 19, 1995, Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City.

Sterling has served in the U.S. Army and Navy. He joined the Army in June 1975 and was honorably discharged in 1979.

Six years later, he joined the Navy. During his time at Naval Station Philadelphia, he provided security and explosives sweeps for President Ronald Reagan on numerous occasions, several heads of state, the Pope, the 10th annual Pan American Games as well as numerous mutual aid situations with local law enforcement agencies.

Sterling left full-time Naval service in 1989 but remained in the Naval Reserves. Back in civilian life, he worked for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department where he worked until 1997. At that point, he became the Geary police chief and led the city’s 11-person department.

In June 1999, Sterling was mobilized by the Navy for a deployment to Kosovo for three months. In November 1999, he returned to active Naval duty. Sterling completed personal protection school at Fort Leonardwood where he was assigned to NCIS. Sterling later was assigned to Admiral Ellis as his personal bodyguard in Naples, Italy. As an investigator with the Naval Criminal Investigations Service, Sterling conducted several high-level investigations including 12 traffic deaths, two homicides and other high profile cases with 100 percent clearance rate.

Sterling completed a tour of duty in Iraq before being transferred to Souda Bay Crete in Greece. He supervised a 187-person law enforcement division where he was the chief investigator for the Criminal Investigations Division. He retired from active duty in July 2012.

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Tim Farley

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