Stillaguamish cops get a boost

Tribal police receive new equipment, training and officers


Herald Writer

Stoluckquamish Lane doesn’t lead to a lawless land.

Some folks think that anything goes after a left turn off 35th Avenue NE onto the Stillaguamish Tribe’s reservation in the heavily wooded region north of Arlington.

"They’re in for a rude awakening," said Eddie Goodridge, co-executive director of the tribe. "If you come here and you’re going to break the law, we’re going to nail you for it."

The tribe’s tiny department is starting to turn heads. Two officers were just added, making the department a three-person operation.

And there’s money behind the muscle.

The Stillaguamish received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that will provide approximately $115,000 for police salaries and benefits, and another $75,000 for police equipment.

The tribe used the grant money to buy a 2000 Ford Explorer that’s now emblazoned with a big TRIBAL POLICE label and the Stillaguamish logo. The funding was also used to buy laptop computers and modems, guns, vehicle-mounted video cameras, and a base computer system.

Now, the tribe hopes to have its officers "cross-deputized" by the Snohomish County sheriff so tribal officers have the authority to apprehend people who commit crimes on tribal land and flee the reservation, as well as assist on calls in the neighboring community.

If Sheriff Rick Bart approves the idea, deputies in Snohomish County’s north precinct could get additional help in the years ahead, Goodridge said.

"The northern precinct area is understaffed and overworked," Goodridge said. "They’re doing a fabulous job, but there are only so many guys and so much ground to cover."

The tribe has hired Stephen L. Durkin, the former police chief of Granite Falls, to help get the tribal officers cross-deputized and sort out other jurisdictional issues.

Durkin, who also helped set up the Skokomish Tribe’s police department, met with Bart last week to discuss the issue. Bart was receptive to the idea, Durkin said, adding that the three Stillaguamish officers will need the equivalent training of local deputies.

"That could be an issue that’s resolved fairly soon," Durkin said.

To do that, all three officers will step back into the classroom.

Senior police officer Marven Oxstien has been on the force for four years and attended Indian Police Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M. He’ll need to attend a two-week course at the state police officer academy to get his equivalency training.

Felix Moran, a senior police officer who worked in law enforcement in Spokane for eight years, is already state-certified but needs training in Indian law enforcement. He’ll attend an equivalency academy run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Darren Bailey, the other new officer, who has a background as a private investigator and worked for a private security company for five years, will take the 16-week course at the Indian Police Academy in January. He’ll then get his state equivalency training afterward.

The Stillaguamish Tribe has had enforcement officers since the mid-1970s. But Indian police forces recognized by the federal government date back to the early 1870s.

Throughout the years, Indian police have protected tribal lands, collared bootleggers, and arrested horse and timber thieves. And it was an Apache police force that arrested Geronimo after his raids on settlements in Arizona.

On Stillaguamish land, however, Goodridge said outsiders are causing most of the trouble.

"This is a well-mannered community; we very rarely have any problems," he said.

There are roughly 30 homes on the Stillaguamish land, with a population numbering about 150.

"I’m not saying they’re all saints, but we do have a problem with people coming in," Goodridge said. "People drive without driver’s licenses, no insurance, attempted traffic of drugs, parties, speeding, reckless driving.

"Felix, a few nights ago, stopped a car that had five people in it and not one person in the car had a driver’s license. And none of them lived here.

"They think they can get away with murder here," Goodridge said. "That’s not happening anymore. They’re getting stopped by the cops. They’re realizing that this isn’t a playground."

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