A top federal official was at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation Thursday, reviewing progress in a presidential initiative in which the reservation is participating.
Larry Echo Hawk, assistant secretary-Indian Affairs of the U. S. Department of the Interior, talked with Chippewa Cree Tribal officials, focusing on work through President Barack Obama’s High Priority Performance Goal for Safe Indian Communities.
“By pooling our resources, we’ve been able to reduce crime by 55 percent, ” said Brenda Gardipee, division chief of Rocky Boy’s Human Services and chair of the High Priority Performance Goal committee.
“We’re really doing some good, positive things out here, and we want the community to know, ” she added.
The Chippewa Cree Tribe was one of four in the nation selected to participate in Obama’s pilot project. The project arose to provide additional funding for law enforcement and court systems in Indian Country after tribal leaders told Obama that their greatest problem was a lack of funding.
The initiative provides an additional $1 million a year to Rocky Boy, plus an additional $250,000 in one-time funding last year. Its goal was to reduce criminal offenses by at least 5 percent within 24 months.
Rocky Boy’s government started implementing changes almost immediately, including hiring additional officers for the tribal police and additional employees and officers for the court system.
Gardipee said a key has been agencies and organizations pooling their resources and working together.
“By pooling our resources we have been able to reduce crime by 55 percent, ” she said.
The committee has worked on a strategic plan in its efforts, including the increased number of police officers, targeting areas with high rates of crime on the reservation to reduce the crimes of burglary, larceny and theft; saturation patrols in areas of high crime rates; increased adjudication, case management and probationary oversight in the court system; and approaches to prevent crime involving a high level of community involvement.
Echo Hawk’s visit came barely two weeks after Rocky Boy hosted a meeting of the state Tribal Prosecutors Association facilitated by Michael Cotter, U.S. attorney for the District of Montana.