Cherokee Police Commission talks Tribal X and NRE

by Oct 26, 2021NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments



One Feather Staff


The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Police Commission held its monthly meeting on Monday, Oct. 25 and discussed advances in the justice system and a continuing need for manpower.

The first guest of the meeting was Tribal Prosecutor Cody White. He provided an update on the prosecutor’s office and on the new software that is being implemented into the Tribal justice system. This software is called Tribal X.

“It’s not completely live yet. It’s in its implementation. We’re going to be able to go completely live once the Court has transferred all of its stuff over to that software as well.”

White said that officers have started to work with the system as well as some of the judges. He said that he hopes it can modernize the current Court structure.

“In four to six years, everything will be automated by this system. This is mobile data terminals in the cars, being able to do the warrants in the cars, print it off in the cars. Then that warrant gets sent immediately to us, we can review it and upon review then we can make any adjustments. We’ll be able to do plea agreements in there with that information. Get discovery in there. The officers will be able to upload discovery into that system, and then it’ll be immediately reviewable by us,” said White.

He said that this system will also make the process more transparent and allow access to records to be easier.

“It’s going to completely automate the system and hopefully break down some of these hiccups that we’re having in the old system of paper discovery,” said White.

The Commission welcomed a second guest to discuss the new technology, that being Sheena Meader. She is the project manager & in-house counsel at Beraten Software, the company that is helping the Tribe construct this system.

“We have a couple of different phases that we have to build it in. So, this is the first phase that we’re in right now. We built the criminal docket, the family safety docket, and the DV (domestic violence) docket. Those were all handled over this past fiscal year, it was about 15 months,” said Meader.

“We try to stay in line with the fiscal years because it’s really based on their grant funding. They got one grant that’ll pay for this phase one … hopefully, we get to start on that in a couple of weeks. That’ll take us about 12-15 months to get their first phase knocked out. And then, once that’s done and they get this next grant that they’re working on right now, then we’ll start to build out their additional features for phase two. Then you’re looking at 2023 to about 2024 to mid-2024.”

The other guest to the meeting was Rick Queen from EBCI Natural Resources Enforcement. He offered the monthly numbers from his department but was also direct in saying that his team was suffering from a lack of staffing.

“Our department has picked up in the years and months. We’re not just fish cops anymore.  We do a lot more than that. Our department is doing the best we can. We’re undermanned big time, y’all know that. It seems like we’re not getting anywhere, things are not going to change as far as manpower. We’ll continue to do all of what we can,” said Queen.

Before he left, Commissioner Hillary Norville asked what kind of hiring Queen would need to get NRE where it needed to be.

“We have three positions that are currently in the budget, what we’re not allowed to advertise. That would only put a band-aid on it. In addition to the three to fully put the shifts into the mold of what they need and be capable of going and patrolling the Boundary adequately, we’d probably need an additional six. Because when we have to go to Robbinsville, I only have one officer working. He goes there, I’m the only one here. If I’m off and they’re called to go there, there’s no one here. It’s bad,” said Queen.

Chairperson Tunney Crowe said that assisting NRE is something the Commission should look to push for soon.

“They’re not deemed essential employees. But who’s the first ones they call for backup? These guys. We need to address that with the higher-ups and get them designated as essential personnel. I think all law enforcement, regardless of what position they’re in, they need to be essential employees,” said Crowe.

After finishing with the guests, Chairperson Crowe said that there were still two items to attain before having the full annual reports from the various departments. Those were complaints filed from the Cherokee Indian Police Department and the ‘crime data’ that needed to be submitted by the Tribal prosecutors.

The Commission finished their meeting in a closed session to discuss ‘personnel issues’.

The Monday, Oct. 25 meeting of the EBCI Police Commission was called to order just after 12 p.m. with Chairperson Tunney Crowe; Secretary Anita Lossiah; and Commissioners Lisa Taylor, Kym Parker, Solomon Saunooke, Hillary Norville, and Frank Dunn present. Vice Chair Buddy Johnson was absent for the meeting.

The next meeting of the Commission is set for Thursday, Nov. 18 at noon. The Commission gathers monthly and has been meeting in the large conference room at the Ginger Lynn Welch complex. These sessions are open to the public.