Tribal Government & News

General Council briefed on Tribal police department

In its first full year of existence, the Grand Ronde Police Department arrested 150 people, handled 333 cases and seized almost $7,000 worth of illicit drugs, said Tribal Police Chief Al LaChance at the April 6 General Council meeting held in the Tribal Community Center.

In 2013, LaChance said, Grand Ronde police officers handled 1,756 total events with 35 percent of the events occurring at Spirit Mountain Casino and 24 percent originating in Tribal housing.

During the first quarter of 2014, the Grand Ronde Police Department is on a pace to easily surpass 2013's totals.

LaChance said the department has already arrested 52 people, handled 158 cases, dealt with 701 total events and seized more than $2,000 worth of illicit drugs.

The Tribal Police Department opened in 2012 with LaChance, a former longtime employee of the Redmond Police Department, being sworn in a chief on Nov. 16, 2012. He joined Sgt. Jake McKnight as the only two officers at the time.

Since then, the Police Department hired two experienced officers in the spring of 2013 and started a K-9 program. This February, the department sent recruit Tyler Brown, a Tribal member, to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Academy and sent Nixwa, the Tribal police dog, and Officer Patrick McConnell to a training academy in Arizona. Brown is scheduled to graduate in June and Nixwa and McConnell are due back in early May.

Nixwa (Chinuk Wawa for "show me") is a 2.5-year-old Belgian Malinois and is No. 1 in his training class, LaChance said.

Currently, the Grand Ronde Police Department includes LaChance, McKnight, three police officers including Nixwa, a recruit, Emergency Management Coordinator Jamie Baxter and one administrative support employee, Tribal member Mindy Lane. This fall, LaChance said, he hopes to hire two more police officers.

LaChance said the Grand Ronde Police Department passed an Oregon State Police audit in January, which bodes well for when the U.S. Department of Justice conducts its audit within the next couple of years.

"We were one of a handful of agencies in the state of Oregon to successfully pass our audit with no problems," LaChance said. "That's pretty big considering we're a new agency."

In response to a question, LaChance said Tribal police officers seize marijuana most often because they can smell it on people they stop. However, once Nixwa comes on board, he expects an increase in the seizure of other drugs because dogs have better scent detection capabilities than humans.

LaChance added that he hopes to eventually hire a second forest patrol officer for the Tribal Reservation, purchase a canine bulletproof vest for Nixwa, start a Neighborhood Watch program and purchase equipment so that those who are arrested can be fingerprinted locally. The equipment also would allow the Tribal department to fingerprint local children for identification purposes, he added.

A video of LaChance's 33-minute presentation can be viewed on the Tribal Web site,

In other action, Patti LeClaire, Kailiyah Krehbiel and Jan Looking Wolf Reibach won the $50 door prizes and George Wilson won the $100 door prize. Reibach donated his winnings to Tribal Royalty.

The final General Council meeting of the season will be held 11 a.m. Sunday, May 4, in the Community Center.

Reibach, Tribal Council member Jon A. George, Eric Bernando and Jade Unger provided the cultural drumming and singing to open the meeting. Dakota Whitecloud provided the invocation.

After the General Council meeting, tours of the new Women's Transition House and Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center were offered.