Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Community News

August 26, 2012

Paoli officer gets big salute

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Actions that might very well have saved lives and are being described as heroic is the reason a Paoli police officer has received the highest of commendations.

The big salute has gone to James Caskey, who serves as the assistant police chief in Paoli.

It was Caskey who spotted something wrong and wouldn't let it go as his persistency ultimately led to the capture of an escapee from a Lexington prison this past March.

Caskey's boss, Paoli Police Chief Johnny Turner, is the one who nominated him for a Medal of Commendation from the Oklahoma Association of Chief's of Police.

Caskey was joined by his wife Kim when he collected his brand new honor during a recent ceremony.

“I think God puts special people in certain places for a reason,” Turner told the PV Democrat.

“The town council, mayor, myself, we're all extremely proud of his actions,” he said. “We're thankful he's one of ours.”

Caskey's medal is the result of an incident back on March 27 when David Hammock escaped from the Lexington correctional facility in a stolen Department of Corrections (DOC) van.

The escapee was able to avoid detection until the off duty Caskey, driving his own pickup, saw the van traveling southbound on Interstate 35 a few miles north Purcell.

According to Turner, Caskey at first thought it might be a DOC friend until he saw some things that weren't right, such as the driver was not dressed or groomed appropriately to be a DOC employee. Plus, the van was traveling far below the normal speed for the interstate.

He twice contacted the DOC before learning an inmate had escaped from the Lexington facility.

“He's a bull in a china closet who has so much tenacity,” Turner said about Caskey.

“He's really aggressive when it comes to doing the right thing,” he said. “He knew something wasn't right and wouldn't let it go.”

Thanks to Caskey various law enforcement agencies were contacted and sprung into action to get the prison escapee stopped.

The escapee, driving at speeds over 90 mph at times, was able to evade stop sticks on the road at one point before the pursuit finally came to a highly dangerous end when Hammock attempted to take the vehicle between two cars.

It resulted in a crash that totaled the DOC van and a state trooper's car about 30 miles south of Pauls Valley. It also nearly resulted in a trooper being hit by the van.

In all the pursuit starting with Caskey's initial spotting of the van stretched more than 60 miles.

“If James hadn't done what he did I think it could have been much worse,” Turner said.

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