Police Commission pledges support to transitional program

by May 15, 2023NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


One Feather Reporter


Most of the EBCI (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) Police Commission’s May 11 meeting was spent hearing reports and in a closed session.

The Commission received reports from three individuals, with the first being from Samantha Bradley. She was there as a representative of Siquo Danvhna, team that works as peer support specialists ‘to individuals returning to the community from incarceration and/or involved in the EBCI court system.’

Bradley, an enrolled member of the EBCI, spoke to the Commission about the benefits of their program, how it got started, and what they need in terms of support. She explained that Siquo Danvhna, which translates to ‘they are living again’, was founded after she noticed a lack of peer support in Cherokee. She had been heavily involved in the support scene in Buncombe County and realized that they could take elements of what they had and transition it to the Boundary.

She explained that they are currently still establishing their services in Cherokee. They can’t operate within the jail at this time, though that is a stage they wish to get to. Chairperson Tunney Crowe asked how often Bradley was working with the other support systems within the Tribal network. She said that they are in constant contact with the different services because the primary focus of their team is to ensure they are not providing redundant services to tribal members. She said that they want to fill the gaps in service and create a quicker avenue to support with less red tape.

Bradley said that right now they are seeking ways to become more permanently established with the EBCI. Currently they are completely grant funded. She said that their ultimate goal is to become an operating team working with and funded by the Cherokee Court. Given their current status, she said that they are also still ‘working out of their cars’. If funding is acquired, Bradley is also hoping to have a space for their team and for visitors.

Vice Chairperson Buddy Johnson made a move for the Police Commission to draft a letter of support for Siquo Danvhna. Kym Parker seconded the motion, and the Commission passed it unanimously.

Next to present was officer Jonah Bird from EBCI Natural Resources Enforcement (NRE). He provided the statistics for the last month, which showed that his staff of three NRE officers handed out 23 citations in the month of April. 21 of these citations involved fishing and hunting, and the other two were traffic violations.

Bird said that the only other thing he needed to report is that reports and sighting of bears have increased recently. He said that there have been reports near Tsali Manor, specifically trying to find food near the property.

The last report in open session came from Shelli Buckner of the Tribal Prosecutor’s Office. She provided convictions numbers from the first quarter of 2023. She also took some time to highlight Bradley and the Siquo Dannvhna program, sharing her support and appreciation.

Convictions by category from Jan 1 through April 30, as provided by the Tribal Prosecutor’s Office:

  • Alcoholic Beverages – 3
  • Banishment/exclusion – 1
  • Bodily injury – 11
  • Child victim – 7
  • Controlled substances – 28
  • Domestic violence – 8
  • DWI – 3
  • Elder abuse – 2
  • Fraud, forgery, false pretense – 2
  • General – 2
  • Obstruction of Justice – 24
  • Probation violation – 10
  • Property – 29
  • Public safety – 4
  • Weapons – 4

The report also states that ‘of these, 19 were felony convictions. In addition, 6 of these convictions were possible due to the Tribe’s exercise of the Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction.’

The Commission then voted to move into a closed session to discuss personnel issues and to discuss the Police Commission budget.

The Thursday, May 11 meeting of the EBCI Police Commission was called to order at 12 p.m. with Chairperson Tunney Crowe; Vice Chair Buddy Johnson; Secretary Anita Lossiah; and Commissioners Lisa Taylor, Kym Parker, Frank Dunn, and Hillary Norville present. Commissioner Solomon Saunooke was absent from the meeting.

The next meeting of the Police Commission is set for Thursday, June 8 at noon. The Commission gathers monthly and has been meeting in the conference room at the office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These sessions are open to tribal members until the Commission moves into an executive session.