Tribal Government & News

Tribal Police Department receives state accreditation

11.12.2020 Danielle Harrison Public safety
Grand Ronde Tribal Police Chief Jake McKnight stands outside the Police Department building with the new accreditation certificate issued by the Oregon Accreditation Alliance. The alliance operates under the authority of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials. (Submitted photo)


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals staff writer

The Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department is the first Tribal law enforcement agency to become part of the Oregon Accreditation Alliance. 

The alliance was formed in 2011 under the direction of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, the Oregon State Sheriff's Association and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. Its goal is to improve the quality of law enforcement and emergency services agencies in Oregon and Alaska, as well as the quality of services provided to the citizens of both states.

Executive Director Scott Hayes met with Tribal Council members and the Tribal Police via Go to Meeting on Thursday, Oct. 29, to virtually present the certification award.

“Grand Ronde is the first Tribal agency in Oregon to become accredited and this is a great step,” Hayes said. “In normal times, I would have a plaque with me to present, but due to COVID, we can’t do that.”

To be accredited, law enforcement agencies must have a detailed set of policies and procedures, particularly in the areas of pursuits, use of force, evidence cataloging and internal affairs. The process is designed to help build the trust of local communities in their police departments through standards that improve accountability and increase professionalism.

Additionally, agencies must be re-accredited every three years and show proof of compliance with the required 104 professional standards of accountability, management and operations.

“It was a goal of mine in 2020 to get accredited before the year was over,” Tribal Police Chief Jake McKnight said. “That we’ve done it with a few months left to go is a credit to my team, and the policies and procedures we spent years putting together. Even though we didn’t have the title until now, we worked under these standards. The accreditation looks over our department to make sure we are practicing what we are preaching. Especially these days with unrest and politics, it’s good for us to be the best department we can be. We continue to learn and grow, and our police department does a great job.”

Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy thanked the Tribal Police Department for its due diligence in receiving accreditation.

“It is good for our community members to know their police force has received this accreditation, to be so open they are able to expose themselves to critical evaluations,” she said.

Tribal Council member Steve Bobb Sr., who grew up in Grand Ronde, expressed gratitude that things have changed from when he was a youth in the 1960s.

“It shows me just how far we’ve come,” he said. “We have a wonderful team.”

McKnight also recalls some rough times when he was young.

“I never forgot that and I knew we would be a community police department that is accountable to everyone so it’s a safe place to live,” he said.