Youth become government employees though summer program

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Fifteen-year-old Tulalip tribal member Demery Johnson, in her second year participating in the Tulalip Tribes Youth Employment Program, says her position in Tulalip Probation is helping her gain work skills she hopes to use in business administration one day. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Fifteen-year-old Tulalip tribal member Demery Johnson, in her second year participating in the Tulalip Tribes Youth Employment Program, says her position in Tulalip Probation is helping her gain work skills she hopes to use in business administration one day.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – Each year Tulalip youth, 14 -18 years old, have a chance to gain work experience before graduation through the Tulalip Tribes Youth Employment Program. The program, funded by the Tulalip Tribes Youth Services Department, is designed to provide Native youth with a positive work experience to foster future growth.

This year funding was available originally for 70 positions with a stipulation that youth applying attend a three-day orientation and meet a 2.0 GPA standard. After receiving additional funding allocated by the Tulalip Board of Directors, the GPA restriction was removed and 30 additional positions added. The program, at the time of this article, had 75 youth employed.
“The most important role of this program in the community is that we are showing our youth that work and dedication is important. Starting work at a young age is a good thing, then they they turn 18, they are more prepared to get a job and be successful employees,” said Jessica Bustad, Tulalip Youth Services Education Coordinator.
The goal of the program she says “is to have youth gain skills, confidence and knowledge that they can use to obtain a full time job in the future.” This essentially puts youth who participate in the program ahead of their peers when applying for future jobs. These youth will have already established critical job skills that ensure success, such as abiding by professional standards, keeping confidentiality, and time management.
In fact, the Tribe has hired youth who have participated in the program said Bustad, due to the youth’s excellent work while in the program. “There have been several throughout the years and it is an awesome thing to see. Two years ago we had an 18-year-old start the Youth Employment Program and resign from it because she applied and received a regular position with the department she was assigned to.”
Youth are treated like regular employees, which means they are required to work a typical 40-hour workweek, a task that may seem daunting for those who are suddenly required to conduct themselves in a professional manner in a government setting, such as the Tulalip Tribes. However, many youth relish in the opportunity to be responsible. Demery Johnson is one of them.

Despite being only 15, and in her second year working in the program, she chose to work in the Tulalip Tribes Probation Department at the Tulalip Tribal Court, a position that requires strict confidentiality and professionalism.
“I chose this department because I wanted to get a more business feel,” said Johnson who worked last year at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club and plans to open her own bakery one day. “I wanted to be able to put on my resume that I have worked in a professional environment. I have learned how probation works and how the court operates.”
Although a court house and a probation department may seem like high-risk positions to have youth work, Bustad explains the Tribe’s youth services education staff decide job placements based on surveys youth fill out that ask questions such as what their interests are.
“We provide the youth with a survey and look at what requests we have for youth. We try to place youth where they will be successful and interested. This can also be a challenge if we do not receive youth worker requests from departments that youth wish to work at,” said Bustad.
“This program helps in many different ways,” said Bustad. “Supervisors and co-workers provide youth with training and other learning opportunities within the departments. This program is teaching them good work ethics and how to communicate properly with others in the workforce.”
“This program benefits me and other youth in a way that we can actually experience what the real world is like and be put into real world situations and actually experience them with a little bit of training wheels instead of just being put into them without any guidance,” said Johnson, whose job duties include office tasks, such as answering phones, greeting clients, taking messages, and filing and data input. Her position in probation teaches her how court cases are processed and how to interact with clients in addition to how a probation department supervises clients during criminal proceedings
“What I like most about the probation department is that I am not treated like a child. I am treated like an equal. I thought it would be boring but what surprised me was going into court and seeing how it works. I am glad to be here and gain this experience. I would encourage everyone to participate,” said Johnson.“The GPA requirement wasn’t a problem for me. A 2.0 is a C-, and having a GPA requirement is a good thing. Last year there were many kids who didn’t want to work, and this is actually achieving a goal. They are hanging a paycheck in front of you saying you have to be able to at least get this, and it is doable. I think that it is a great thing to do. Just like making them take a drug test, which is perfectly normal, it is what you would do in the real world. It shows you that you have to actually work to get stuff in the real world. I don’t see what would hold anybody back. Other than amusement parks, I would be just sitting at home. There is nothing to lose, you get paid and you get experience.”

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

 

 

Tulalip adopts Good Samaritan Law with Lois Luella Jones Law

Rico Jones-Fernandez and his mother Lois 'Lou Lou' Luella Jones shortly before she passed away on July 10, 2010 from an alcohol overdose. Jones-Fernandez campaigned for the Tulalip Tribes to adopt a Good Samaritan Law on the Tulalip Reservation that would grant temporary immunity to those seeking medical attention for a victim during a drug or alcohol overdose. The Tulalip Tribes passes the Lois Luella Jones Law on June 7, 2014. Photo Courtesy/ Rico Jones-Fernandez

Rico Jones-Fernandez and his mother Lois ‘Lou Lou’ Luella Jones shortly before she passed away on July 10, 2010 from a drug overdose. Jones-Fernandez campaigned for the Tulalip Tribes to adopt a Good Samaritan Law on the Tulalip Reservation that would grant temporary immunity to those seeking medical attention for a victim during a drug or alcohol overdose. The Tulalip Tribes passes the Lois Luella Jones Law on June 7, 2014.
Photo Courtesy/ Rico Jones-Fernandez

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – For the past few months Rico Jones-Fernandez has campaigned to enact a Good Samaritan Law on the Tulalip Reservation that would provide temporary immunity for people seeking help from 911 emergency services for victims of drug or alcohol overdose. On June 7, his campaign came to an end when the Tulalip Board of Directors voted unanimously to enact the Lois Luella Jones Law into the Tulalip Tribal Codes.

While Jones-Fernandez’s dedication paid off for future victims of overdose, his dedication stemmed from personal tragedy.

Lois ‘Lou Lou’ Luella Jones is described as a compassionate woman, who loved to laugh and be with her family and friends. She was a proud mother of five children and had grandmother bragging rights over three grandchildren, whom she intended to be close with. But on July 10, 2010, at the age of 41, Lou Lou succumbed to what the coroner’s office, labeled as acute intoxication due to combined effects of oxycodone carisoprodol and acetaminophen. A drug overdose. Her son Rico believes it was a death that could have been prevented if the people in the house with her at the time of the overdose had called 911 for emergency help, without fear of arrest or conviction.

“I wonder what I could have done everyday,” says Jones-Fernandez. “I know there are a lot of people who are sitting and wondering what they could do for their loved ones, and there isn’t much you can do except tell them you are there for them. And with this law, at least people have the peace of mind in knowing if something does happen, someone can call 911 without fear of getting arrested. This is about not waiting for someone you love to die.”

On April 13 of this year, Jones-Fernandez introduced an early version of the law to the Tulalip Board of Directors. The draft became known informally as draft 1 after a proposed version of the law was presented by Tulalip Legal Department, known as draft 2.

Rico Jones-Fernandez discusses the two drafts the Tulalip Board of Directors examined for a Tulalip Good Samaritan law before passing the Lois Luella Jones Law which would grant temporary immunity to those seeking medical attention for a victim of a drug or alcohol overdose. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Rico Jones-Fernandez discusses the two drafts the Tulalip Board of Directors examined for a Tulalip Good Samaritan law before passing the Lois Luella Jones Law which would grant temporary immunity to those seeking medical attention for a victim of a drug or alcohol overdose.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

The two drafts, although proposed to encourage people to report emergencies without fear of self-incrimination, contained vastly different language and protections for the person seeking medical help for a victim of an overdose.

Draft 1 proposed guaranteed immunity for persons seeking medical help from being arrested due to possession of illicit substances or paraphernalia charges, underage drinking, or contributing to a minor, including non-violent misdemeanor warrants. Protection for the caller also included the removal of probation being revoked or modified, and immunity to extend to all present that cooperated with medical staff.

Draft 2 proposed protection from arrest due to possession of illicit substances and police retain the power to arrest but encourage discretion, including the ability to use the law as a defense later in court if arrested.

Jones-Fernandez stated the differences in his draft are not about condoning the crimes, but that  life is more important.

Tulalip Tribes BOD agreed and passed draft 1 during a regular Board meeting, making the Lois Luella Jones Law effective following a brief 10-day filing with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Although minor changes were made to draft 1 before it’s approval with the Board, the draft still retained its original language and intent, and can be used immediately.

“I’ve talked to hundreds of people about this law, and read everything I could get my hands on. It has come a long way; it has been challenging, but this is going to make things better. It is a good start. It is a great first step that will be effective,” said Jones-Fernandez.

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

 

 

Tulalip selects own as new Police Chief

Tulalip Board of Directors selects Carlos Echevarria as new Chief of Police from Brandi Montreuil on Vimeo.

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – On May 3, Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors made a historical decision when they selected Tulalip tribal member, Carlos Echevarria, to be the new Chief of Police for the Tulalip Police Department.

The 44 year-old FBI National Academy and Northwest School of Police Staff and Command graduate, is the first Tulalip tribal citizen to hold the office of Police Chief post-retrocession, a process where the Tribe took back jurisdiction on tribal lands in 2001.

Tulalip Police Department's new Chief of Police, Carlos Echevarria, takes his oath in front of Tulalip Tribes vice-chairman Les Parks and local law enforcement and service agencies on May 7.  Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Tulalip Police Department’s new Chief of Police, Carlos Echevarria, takes his oath in front of Tulalip Tribes vice-chairman Les Parks and local law enforcement and service agencies on May 7.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Echevarria, a Tulalip police officer since 2001, has completed several law enforcement trainings and academy programs including the BIA Criminal Jurisdiction and Criminal Investigations in Indian Country, U.S. Department of Justice FBI Basic Indian Country In-Service Training, and SWAT Basic Tap/ Rack Tactical.

“I was literally in shock,” described Echevarria, upon learning of the Board’s decision, and who had been serving as the department’s Interim Chief of Police for 11 months prior.  “I’ve been so humbled by this opportunity and by the outpouring of community support, both internally and externally of Tulalip Tribes, as well as the support of other state and federal agencies that we work closely with. I am truly grateful; I wasn’t expecting it. Words do not describe how excited I am and how I feel to be the first Tulalip tribal member to be the Chief of Police for Tulalip. I am confident I have all the training and experience to do this. I know the community. The community trusts me and my staff trusts me, and I think it was just the right time. I am very fortunate to be in this position.”

Former Tulalip Police Chief, Jay Goss, pins newly appointed Police Chief Carlos Echevarria during the swearing in ceremony held May 7, in the Tulalip Tribes Board Room. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Former Tulalip Police Chief, Jay Goss, pins newly appointed Police Chief Carlos Echevarria during the swearing in ceremony held May 7, in the Tulalip Tribes Board Room.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Echevarria, whose his goal was always to become an officer, says his objective for the department will be to focus on collaboration with other tribal departments for safety and community outreach and education.

“My number one goal going forward is to reduce the number of our children that are exposed to violence. And that is far ranging from physical and sexual abuse in the home to school safety,” said Echavarria.

Relying on his training and advice from his mentor, former Tulalip Chief of Police Jay Goss, Echevarria will be starting his career as chief during the first initial Violence Against Women’s Act cases being heard through tribal courts. Tulalip Tribes was selected, along with two other tribes nationwide, to implement special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction under VAWA 2013.

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“VAWA was a much needed legislation and now the three pilot tribes have taken on that role of working through many obstacles in working with the Department of Justice to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Native American women in Indian Country.  Once this process is complete the other tribes will have a template, so to speak, to follow and a number of issues will have been worked out and it won’t be as difficult for them,” said Echevarria, whose department will become a model for other tribal police departments in handling VAWA cases, and who have already received requests from other tribal police departments to be kept informed of the process.

Tulalip Police Chief Carlos Echevarria is joined by (left to right) Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith, Shoreline Police Chief Shawn Ledford, Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary, Lake Stevens Interim Police Chief Dan Lorentzen, and Everett Police Chief Kathy Atwood. All who attended Chief Echevarria's swearing in ceremony on May 7. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Tulalip Police Chief Carlos Echevarria is joined by (left to right) Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith, Shoreline Police Chief Shawn Ledford, Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary, Lake Stevens Interim Police Chief Dan Lorentzen, and Everett Police Chief Kathy Atwood. All who attended Chief Echevarria’s swearing in ceremony on May 7.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“It’s an exciting time. My belief in moving forward is we will find ways together to further the Tribe’s goal as a whole and make this community as safe as possible for everyone,” Echevarria said.

Echevarria was sworn into office on May 6, and was joined by numerous local law enforcement and service agencies in addition to the Tulalip community. You can watch his swearing in ceremony on Tulalip TV’s Tulalip Matters program at www.tulaliptv.com or on Tulalip broadband on channel 99.

For more information regarding the Tulalip Police Department, please contact them at 360-716-4800. In case of an emergency, please contact 911.

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com