By PRINCIPAL CHIEF RICHARD G. SNEED
Since 2009 the tribe has worked with an officially authorized Police Commission to be an impartial board with the oversight responsibility for law enforcement operations on our lands. The Police Commission provides oversight for the Cherokee Police Department, the Alcohol Law Enforcement department, the Natural Resources Enforcement Office, and the Cherokee Animal Control department. The Commission is comprised of members who represent different communities and two at large members all of whom are nominated by the Executive Office and approved by Tribal Council.
The Police Commission is accountable for enacting policy, rules, and regulations for governance of law enforcement functions and that duty includes providing supervision responsibilities for law enforcement personnel. The Police Commission also has budget responsibility. These functions are critical to our community.
These duties are tremendous and through the past administrations these duties have been undertaken to varying degrees with no means to measure success or identify challenges. I am aware of some of the challenges facing the Police Commission and am prepared to act to strengthen the current operating procedures to ensure the Police Commission has the necessary authority to manage this critical function for the tribe and for the protection of our community.
Some of these changes include the implementation of a biannual reporting system, attend a minimum number of hours in training each year, annually review qualifications for personnel, establish requirements for training for personnel, and review the individual programs budgets. The Police Commission will also have the authority to administer all personnel policies and shall review those policies regularly to ensure those policies conform to tribal policy and best standard practice in the field of law enforcement.
I believe tribal law enforcement agencies should be able to operate independently of political influence. It is imperative that law enforcement agencies continue to comply with the tribe’s financial policies and the Police Commission will undertake those responsibilities.
The duty to keep our community safe, provide support for our law enforcement personnel, and increase the integrity of the Police Commission is incumbent on tribal leadership. I believe these changes will begin that process. There will be challenges as we move toward these goals however I am confident this step is necessary to provide a safe community.