By Brett Larson, June 4, 2015
Representatives of four Minnesota Indian bands came together at Mille Lacs on May 27 to sign an agreement that Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin described as “historic.”
The agreement will create a Consolidated Tribal Task Force allowing the four bands — two Ojibwe and two Sioux — to share information and cooperate in new ways to fight crime.
Participating in the event were Mille Lacs Chief Benjamin; Marisa Pigeon, Tribal Vice Chair of the Upper Sioux Community; Mille Lacs Band Solicitor General Todd Matha; Mille Lacs Tribal Police Chief Jared Rosati; Brian Marquardt, Minnesota Office of Justice Programs; Upper Sioux Police Chief Chris Lee; Lower Sioux Police Chief Darwin Melin; and Leech Lake Tribal Police Chief Ken Washington.
After an invocation in Ojibwe from John Benjamin and a song by Benjamin, Chris Gahbow and Quintin Sam, Melanie Benjamin welcomed the guests and thanked the police officers present: “We know you care about our communities, and that you risk your lives each day to keep us safe,” Melanie said. “And we know that you don’t often get thanked for your work, so I want to be clear today how much we appreciate each
She also spoke about the problem of opiate abuse and opiate-addicted newborns in the community, and she explained that the agreement would help to combat the problem: “This agreement we are about to sign today is a first step in putting a stop to these criminals taking advantage of our children, our youth, our communities and our babies. Through creation of this Task Force, from now on, there will be no place for the drug dealers to hide, because our police will ALL know who they are, across each of our reservations.“
Mille Lacs Tribal Police Chief Jared Rosati spoke briefly about the agreement and introduced his fellow officers before inviting to the podium Tribal Police Officer Derrick Naumann, who has been appointed Commander of the task force. Derrick spoke about his background and explained how the task force will help the four bands fight crime.
After the event, he summed up those benefits as follows: “One of the most important parts of this agreement will be the information sharing. Until now we would have no idea if there is contact made with a suspected drug trafficker in each other’s jurisdiction unless we specifically called and asked about them. Now we will be able to have a seamless information database, which we can view when we have contact with the same subjects. This will allow us to work more efficiently in our cases.
“Another very significant part is the resource sharing. If there are major events or cases to be worked, we can assist by sending officers to each other’s jurisdictions to help out in any way needed.”
Naumann will be supervised by a board composed of the police chiefs of the four bands.