By BROOKLYN BROWN
One Feather Reporter
CHEROKEE, N.C. – The Cherokee Police Commission of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) met on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Ginger Lynn Welch Large Conference Room for their monthly meeting.
Secretary Anita Lossiah called the meeting to order, and Hillary Norville acknowledged that their quorum requirement of five commissioners had been met. Board members attending were Secretary Anita Lossiah (At-Large), Frank Dunn (Wolftown), Lisa Taylor (Painttown), Kym Parker (Yellowhill), and Hillary Norville (Snowbird & Cherokee Co.). Chairman Gene Tunney Crowe (Birdtown) and Vice Chairman Joseph Buddy Johnson (Big Cove) had an excused absence. There is one vacant “At-Large” seat. The Commission unanimously approved the agenda as amended. Norville motioned to add an item for open discussion regarding Christmas cards and apple cakes from Barber’s Orchard for the Cherokee Indian Police Dept. (CIPD) and associated programs. Parker seconded the motion. The minutes from last month’s meeting were unanimously approved.
Shelli Buckner, EBCI senior tribal prosecutor; Cody White, EBCI associate attorney general assigned to the Cherokee Indian Police Dept. (CIPD); Chris Siewers, associate counsel from the Office of the Attorney General; Bonnie Claxton, manager of the Legal Assistance Office (LAO); and Brooklyn Brown, Cherokee One Feather; were guests in attendance.
Claxton provided an update from the Tribal Health Improvement Plan (THIP) as the violence and abuse subcommittee chair. The THIP is a public health initiative of PHHS targeting four areas of concern for public health: substance use, mental health, economic health and the environment, and violence and abuse. Claxton shared that the violence and abuse subcommittee has highlighted five points of action including outreach and education, offender accountability, victim services, code revisions, and community watch.
White shared the Law Enforcement Division October report for fiscal year 2023 as Chief Neadeau and Asst. Chief of Police Josh Taylor were in a meeting:
- Calls for Service: 1531 (average of 49 per day)
- Arrests: 58
- Accidents: 10
- Citations: 42
- Calls for Service: 199 (average of 6 per day)
- Arrests: 0
- Accidents: 3
- Citations: 9
- Cherokee Co. Sherriff Department Calls for Service at Vallery River Casino: 3
NARCOTICS CASE LOAD
- Checkpoints: 6
- Cases: 193
- Patrol Officer: 10
- SRO: 1
- Juvenile Officer: 1
- Investigations: 1
- Corrections: 0
- NRE Officer: 1
- Maintenance: 2
- Sergeant Detective: 1
White added that the CIPD has two new patrol officers. Chief Neadeau is conducting a survey of officers to voice their complaints and feedback for retention and recruiting. Lossiah added that she would share a survey of officers from two years ago with White. Parker and Lossiah suggested that the CIPD attend the CTE Career Fair at CCS on Nov. 21.
White shared that Cherokee Co. courts recently accepted his policy change for jurisdiction determination. White explained that officers were struggling with transporting arrests between Cherokee Co. and the Qualla Boundary. White wrote policy changes to implement remote court appearances for Cherokee Co. and tribal courts to avoid the back and forth of jurisdiction determination. White said Cherokee Co. courts accepted this policy change on Wednesday, Nov. 8.
White is also meeting with tribal entities such as the Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos and Cherokee Indian Hospital to expedite the gathering of initial case information through a records request form rather than issuing a subpoena.
He also submitted resolutions for Juvenile Justice to change code so that traffic offenses for minors will be processed in adult courts. White added that DWI cases will remain in juvenile court. White also submitted a resolution for CCS so that all CCS students, or enrolled members living on the Qualla Boundary who attend other school systems, would have compulsory school attendance from ages 6 (or younger, but enrolled in school) to 18. White explained that this was not intended to be a punishment, but to ensure that children are making it to school.
Buckner shared that the Office of the Tribal Prosecutor (OTP) has had court every day for the last two weeks. She said the courts are working on calendar adjustments to accommodate insufficient staffing in OTP while still maintaining due process rights. White added that in December, it will be three years since OTP has had three prosecutors.
Buckner shared the OTP October report, which indicated that OTP has made 57 convictions, the nature of which is shown below:
Alcoholic Beverages: 2
Bodily Injury: 1
Controlled Substances: 8
Domestic Violence: 3
Obstruction of Justice: 14
Driving While Impaired: 1
Public Peace: 1
Public Safety: 1
Probation Violations: 14
Buckner added that these convictions reflect five convictions made possible based on the Tribe’s exercise of jurisdiction of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). White added that he was invited to present Tribal Council with an explanation of VAWA and its expansion of tribal jurisdiction.
Siewers presented a draft ordinance amending the Elder and Vulnerable Adult Protection Criminal Code to include a 72-hour hold for violent criminal offenses against an elder or vulnerable adult. Siewers commented that there is often a misunderstanding by the community that a 72-hour hold for domestic violence is automatic. Siewers explained that 72-hour holds are presumed in domestic violence cases, but hearings can be requested to rebut the hold.
Siewers read section b(1) of the draft ordinance to explain determining factors for the 72-hour hold:
- The person poses a credible threat of violence, repeated harassment or bodily injury to the alleged victim or to the victim’s family or household,
- Is a threat to public safety; and
- Is reasonably likely appear in court.
Siewers added that the draft ordinance is a manageable change for the court as the 72-hour hold for domestic violence cases is a well-understood concept for judges, attorneys, and law enforcement alike that will slot in easily for elder and vulnerable adult abuse. The Commission voted to approve the draft ordinance pending feedback from the commissioners before the Nov. 20 deadline to submit the ordinance. If Siewers does not hear adjustments from the Commission shared by Secretary Lossiah before Nov. 20, the ordinance will be submitted.
The Commission asked that the CIPD provide a calendar of events, meetings, and potential trainings. White said he would consult with Chief Neadeau on completing a calendar for the Commission.
Norville motioned to approve Christmas cards and apple cakes to be given out by the Commission to the CIPD and associated program for Christmas. Parker seconded the motion and the board voted unanimously to approve the motion.
Dunn shared that he had community questions regarding the at-large commission position. Lossiah said Principal Chief Michell Hicks would have to fill the vacant position, but the Commission could make recommendations.
Parker motioned to adjourn the meeting. Lossiah seconded the motion. The board unanimously approved. The meeting adjourned at 1:13 pm. The next meeting will be on Dec. 14 in an off-premises location to be determined in the form of a Christmas luncheon.