Tribal Government & News

Tribal Police officers honored for lifesaving efforts

11.30.2023 Sherron Lumley Tribal Police
Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department Officer Austin Gomez is awarded the Life Saving Award during the Oregon Peace Officers Association Law Enforcement Awards Banquet at Spirit Mountain Casino’s Event Center on Friday, Nov. 17. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)


By Sherron Lumley

Smoke Signals staff writer

The Oregon Peace Officers Association honored the lifesaving efforts of Grand Ronde Tribal Police officers Angel Arenas and Austin Gomez at its annual statewide awards banquet at Spirit Mountain Casino on Friday, Nov. 17.

The awards are given to law enforcement personnel and citizens throughout Oregon, for exemplary deeds and service in their communities.

Both men used CPR in separate emergency situations this year, each saving a life. Gomez received a Lifesaving Award and Arenas was presented with a Lifesaving Award with Valor.

Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department Officer Angel Arenas, middle, is awarded the Life Saving Award with Valor during the Oregon Peace Officers Association Law Enforcement Awards Banquet at Spirit Mountain Casino’s Event Center on Friday,  Nov. 17. At left is OPOA Board of Directors past President Robert Wirt and OPOA Board of Directors incoming President Darren Pomeroy is on the right. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)

“I’m really proud of their bravery, composure and training to give lifesaving actions,” Tribal Police Chief Jake McKnight said. “These were proactive patrolling calls that show how important it is that the Tribe has its own police department.”

At 1:28 p.m. Thursday, March 9, Gomez responded within one minute to an emergency dispatch call to the intersection of Fire Hall and Andy Riggs roads in Grand Ronde.

“I arrived on scene and observed a white Mazda CX-9 parked on the side of the road with its hazard lights on,” he said. “Hanging out the driver’s door was a male unconscious, not breathing, and his skin was a bluish gray.”

When the man did not respond and based on the original call details, Gomez administered Naloxone, an overdose reversal medicine, into each nostril. He then performed seven minutes of CPR

“The male would breathe on his own for a moment then would become unresponsive again,” Gomez said.

He continued CPR until medics arrived.

The incident Arenas responded to occurred during a routine patrol at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 24.

“I was driving through the Tribal main campus and saw a mother holding her child in distress yelling for help,” he said. “I quickly exited my police vehicle and saw the child was having a severe medical issue and was not responsive at the time. I called for medical personnel to respond to my location. While medics were in route, I started providing medical aid to the child to include CPR, and was able to get the child conscious and alert by the time medical personnel arrived on scene.”

Tribal Police provide service 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the Grand Ronde community, and respond to local calls through a mutual aid agreement with Yamhill County.