Tribal Leaders Discuss Options to Deal With Drug Crisis
By Joe Morey
Following the recent overdose deaths of two young women on the Reservation, members of the community are urging action and the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) is responding. In the past few weeks they have held several meetings with law enforcement and public safety committee members.
Prior to those deaths, several members approached the TGB to take action before things escalate. One member told the TGB there are tribal members who are ready to take action themselves. He said they are willing to do what it takes to protect their families and their children.
“Something has to be done before we lose any more of our children,” the member stated.
LCO Chairman Taylor said after meeting with those members that he took it to heart.
“We really want to step up our efforts, but, we have to be mindful of what we do so that we don’t interfere with any current investigations,” Taylor explained.
Taylor said a series of meetings has taken place between tribal government, Sawyer County Sheriff Doug Mrotek, LCO Police Chief Tim DeBrot, the LCO Public Safety Committee and housing officials.
Taylor said the TGB is going to put up a big effort to fight the drugs. He indicated that Housing is going to have to play a role.
Taylor said the LCO Housing Authority needs to receive reports from law enforcement on which houses have drug activity. He also said they need to hear concerns from members who report drug activity.
“We have to start doing something. We have people openly selling drugs out of Housing units,” Taylor stated. He suggested that more power needs to be granted to the LCO Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. As of now, they are just an advisory board.
TGB Member Don Carley said LCO Police are too emphasized on traffic stops.
“I want to see our police focused on drug houses,” Carley stated.
The LCO Police Department was short five officers until recently hiring more. Now they are only short one officer, according to Chairman Taylor. With the addition of more officers, he suggested one idea to combat the drug crisis is to have a drug unit within the LCO Police Department made up of several officers who focus only on drugs.
He also suggested the Tribe sponsor a hotline to report activity.
LCO Sec-Treasurer Michelle Beaudin suggested the Tribe may need to install cameras into high drug trafficking areas and TGB member Glenda Barber said she would like to see street lights throughout the Tribal Communities.
Chairman Taylor added, “I’ve even suggested we may have to enlist law enforcement help from other Tribes and that we set up checkpoints in evening hours on the weekends and stop everything that moves.”