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Tribal council puts police force on probation

 

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The tribal council at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation has placed the entire police department on probation.

"A decision has been made to place all law enforcement officers immediately on probationary status effective immediately," said a memo signed by Alvin Windy Boy Sr., chairman of the Chippewa Cree Business Committee, also known as the tribal council.

The memo, sent to Police Chief Arthur Windy Boy, also said, "There have been several issues raised regarding law enforcement on the reservation which is a major concern to the Business Committee."

The letter said that an "external review" of the Police Department would be conducted, to provide the Business Committee with "problem areas and corrective action that needs to be taken."

Tribal council members could not be reached for comment today.

Mario Pataxil, director of public relations for the council, said the council will meet on the issue this afternoon.

"We are restructuring our judicial system," he said.

Rocky Boy police officers met Wednesday night to discuss the tribal council's decision. The department employs 15 officers.

Chief Windy Boy said the decision was "uncalled for."

"We have people with 13, 14 years' experience who have never had disciplinary action taken against them," he said. "Now, without reason, they're placed on probation."

He said the decision stemmed from allegations of police brutality.

"People make baseless accusations about things they did not even witness," he said. "Mostly it's family members acting on behalf of others. It's nothing but hearsay."

Probation means a loss of privileges, Chief Windy Boy said.

"We are treated like new employees," he said. "We will not be granted leave."

The chief said he is unsure how to respond to the probationary status.

"Normally, we are informed as to some appeals process," he said. "This memorandum does not allow for that. We were given no recourse, no way to respond. We really need to meet with the council to discuss this matter. We take a lot of heat from the public, and we really need the council to stand by us."

Rookie officer Francine Bacon said the tribal council has underestimated the demands of being a police officer.

"I've only been on the job for three months, but that is long enough to realize that this is not an easy job," she said. "We are constantly being hit, kicked, bit, and just basically attacked by people. Being a police officer in Rocky Boy is not a popular job. We are at odds with our families and the community. It's a very stressful job."

 
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