Sunday, August 18, 2013

Community Policing A Success for Tribal Youth

We worry about the dangers that youth face on reservations, especially from drugs and gangs. On the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation in Wisconsin, tribal members complained, "There's no jobs. You see 10-year-old kids in little four to five member gangs walking and breaking windows. Something's going to escalate." Likewise, people of the Penobscot Indian Nation complained about youth playing loud music, vandalizing buildings and even stealing during the long Maine nights.

Anyone familiar with Indian Country knows the problems: too few officers patrolling large, rural areas; too many adults doing drugs or drinking instead of being positive role models; not enough resources for existing law enforcement or service providers. It's not hard to understand how tribal police would shy away from tackling new programs or approaches.

However, as tribal police start applying community policing principles, they have been discovering how many problems it solves. In Wisconsin, tribes across the state share resources, personnel and training with state officers to combat gangs and drugs. In the first year of their partnership, inter-agency teams busted up a crack ring on the St. Croix-Chippewa Nation and made over 105 arrests, all while respecting firm boundaries on tribal sovereignty. In Maine, the Penobscot police worked with tribal leaders to open a tribal coffee shop that provides youth with a friendlier and healthier place to hang out. In Idaho, the Nez Perce tribal police collaborated with the Lewiston and Quad Cities police to bust a dealer holding nearly $300,000 worth of drugs, as well as firearms, cash and jewelry. By collaborating—sharing information, resources and activities to achieve a common goal— the sum of the parts ends up having a huge impact on making communities safer.

The elements of community policing are simple (below), and can be applied to a host of problems for Native youth, from gangs to drug endangered children. To learn more, join us for a free online webinar to discuss Creating Collaboration Through Community Policing, hosted by our expert on successful community policing, Dr. Ron Glensor.
Elements of Community Policing