The Colville Tribes pitched the Elmer City council last Thursday to provide the town’s official police force.
Appearing at the town council were Public Safety Director Bill Elliot and Tribal Police Chief Corey Orr.
Elliot told the council that the Tribal Police Department would like to put in for a state-funded police grant, but to be successful it must represent a town or city.
He said that the Tribal Police would not charge the town anything to be its law enforcement department, but would use the grant to supply reserve officers to cover Elmer City and eventually part of the Bureau of Reclamation security force, if the Tribes got part of that contract.
“That would allow the Tribes to put a law enforcement unit in Elmer City,” Elliot stated.
The two tribal officials had prepared a written ordinance for Elmer City that would accomplish their offer.
Councilmember Jeff DeWinkler noted that the council needed to take a longer look at the offer before passing the ordinance and moved to table it until May when the council meets again.
Mayor Mary Jo Carey and others said the matter should be run by the town’s attorney in Spokane before action was taken.
The tribal officials said that the police now have a total of 24 officers to cover the entire reservation.
Elliot said that if Elmer City acted on having tribal officers cover Elmer City, between Coulee Dam and tribal officers, the town would have good coverage.
Elmer City used to have its own police force, then contracted with Coulee Dam to provide law enforcement services, and for the past few years has been without coverage. The small town hasn’t had the resources to provide its own law enforcement.
How any traffic fines were handled would have to be worked out, but Carey stated she didn’t see how the town could operate its own municipal court, and would likely defer to Okanogan County.
The Tribes, Elliot stated, planned to bid on the Bureau’s new plan for contract services. The plan is divided into five zones. Which zones and how many the Tribes were interested in wasn’t noted by Elliot.
But when Elliot told the council that law enforcement wouldn’t cost the town anything, it perked up interest.
The tribal police officials plan to be at the May meeting to follow up on the proposal.