By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
On April 19, Officer Phillip Powers walked into the Marysville Mountain View Arts and Technology High School for his last day on duty as a School Resource Officer and his last day as a Tulalip Police Officer, until he returns to the country in 2020. As a member of the United States Army, Powers was called up to serve a yearlong deployment overseas to protect our Nation’s freedom.
Officer Powers found a home within the Tulalip community upon graduating from the Police Academy and becoming a member in blue for the Tulalip Police Department. Shortly after, he was named the School Resource Officer for all of the schools in the Tulalip area including the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, Heritage High School and Marysville Arts and Tech, where he built strong connections with the community members, instructors and students.
As he said his final goodbyes at each school, he was met with cheers and applause at Marysville Arts and Tech, where the students organized a surprise farewell party for the officer. A look of shock, followed by a large smile spread across his face as he made his way through the school’s cafeteria to the center stage, while the young adults honored the local hero with a well-deserved standing ovation.
The law official was presented with a goodbye card, which all of the students signed, before a number of youth, school faculty, family, friends and fellow officers shared memories as well as expressed words of gratitude for the impact he’s had within the community. During the emotional morning assembly, nearly each speaker wiped away tears before embracing Officer Powers with a hug. The teens recalled games of gatorball and conversations about movies and pop culture. And some kids simply thanked him for acknowledging them on some of their toughest days.
“Powers, my man I love you dude,” stated an Arts and Tech student. “I just want to thank you. I know cops get a lot of crap nowadays, but I think you changed the way that’s perceived, especially in this community. You’re fun, you know the culture, you listen to hip hop, which is lit. I think you changed the way a lot of young people think and feel about law enforcement, because we got to know you on a more personal level. I want to thank you for dedicating your life to protecting and serving our country, whether it be locally or globally. Thank you for protecting our freedom.”
The sendoff ended with students lining up on both sides of the hallway while Officer Powers walked through, giving each student a high-five.
“I feel very appreciative,” said Officer Powers. “I try to make a positive, lasting impact on the kids as much as I can just by being genuine and bringing a caring aspect. Sometimes you don’t see the effect you have on people, some of the kids won’t ever show it. To hear some of them talk about their interactions with me in a heartfelt manner, that’s different than what I normally see on a daily basis, and it was so special.”
Chief of Police letter to the Tulalip Community,
I am reaching out to the Tulalip community for your help, drugs are causing great harm and impact on the lives of the people. I have witnessed and also heard the many personal experiences of pain and tragedy inflicted upon the Tulalip community by drug dealers who intentionally prey upon those afflicted with addictions. These drug dealers traffic into the Reservation dangerous and deadly drugs causing devastating and tragic outcomes to individuals, families, and our community.
The opiate drug epidemic is a national crisis and our community is not exempt. This problem requires the coming together of the community, police, and other service providers to effectively make a difference. Let my message be clear, for drug dealers, profiting off the pain and misery of others, the Tulalip Police Department will relentlessly investigate and pursue criminal charges. For those afflicted in the vice of addiction, we offer our support and referral to Tribal service providers and other resources for help.
Today, January 31, 2019, the Tulalip Police Department is out in the Community conducting a neighborhood outreach effort in the Quil Neighborhoods on 27thAve NE. This is part of the Tulalip Police Department’s commitment to working with the Community to address illicit drug dealing, and to assist individual by providing services resource information to those who may be afflicted with chemical dependencies.
Uniformed police officers will be going door to door introducing themselves to members of the community. Officers will provide information and offer any assistance to help improve the livability and safety of the neighborhoods. The Police Department also is planning to hold Neighborhood Policing Meetings to help facilitate improved communications and trust. I welcome the community’s input and concerns, my goal is to work collaboratively in partnership to solve problems.
Community members and neighborhood groups interested in scheduling in a meeting with the Police Department are asked to call Cmdr. Paul Arroyos at 360 716-5924.
To make an anonymous Narcotics Complaint please call the Tulalip Drug Task Force Tip Line at 360 716-5990, or call Drug Task Force Cmdr. Jim Williams at 360 716-5927.
Sincerely, Chris Sutter
On December 7, 2018, the Tulalip Police Department released a Public Safety Announcement in regards to the dangers of narcotics laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl laced into street narcotics may have fatal outcomes. Please see link for further information: https://www.tulaliptribes-nsn.gov/Portals/0/pdf/departments/Media-Realease-Police/Media-Release-18-003-Fentanyl.pdf
On December 12, 2018, The Tulalip Police Department along with Emergency Medical Services responded to three drug overdose cases. The substances used in each of these emergency responses was suspected to be heroin laced with fentanyl. Two of the victims made it only a few yards before collapsing, fortunately Tulalip Police Officers responded and administered lifesaving doses of Naloxone, a medication used to counteract opioid overdose. Due to the quick action of Police and Fire emergency responders, all individuals survived and were transported to area hospitals for medical treatment.
On Thursday, December 13, 2018, Tulalip Police Department Drug Task Force Detectives assisted by Tulalip Police Criminal Investigations, Patrol, and Fish and Wildlife served a search warrant for alleged illegal drug activities at the residence located at 8629 27thAve NE. This residence had been the source of recent community complaints and following a narcotics investigation probable cause for a search warrant was developed.
The service of the search warrant at 8629 27thAve. NE. resulted in five adults arrested on various charges to include: manufacture/delivery controlled substance, unlawful possession of firearms, possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute, possession of a stolen firearm, and outstanding arrest warrants. Distribution quantities of illegal narcotics were seized, along with other evidence of possession with the intent to deliver controlled substances. Additionally three stolen firearms were seized from within the residence.
The Tulalip Police Department remains committed to protecting the community by deploying resources to investigate complaints of alleged narcotics sales recognizing the devastating impacts of this criminal behavior on individuals, families, and the community. Those struggling with addictions are encouraged to seek the resources offered to assist them. Community members who may have important information regarding the sales of controlled substances are asked to call the Tulalip Police Department, Drug Task Force/Investigations Tip Line at 360 716-5990. Anonymous calls will be received and followed-up on.
Press Release, Tulalip Police Department
The Washington State Department of Health reports that illicit fentanyl is being detected in new forms and is causing an increasing number of overdose deaths in the state.
In the first half of 2018, there have been 81 deaths linked to fentanyl, versus 48 deaths recorded during the same time last year. This represents an almost 70 percent increase.
Public health officials urge people who use opioids to take these actions to help protect themselves from an overdose:
- Seek treatment.
- Carry naloxone.
- If you witness an overdose, call 911, give naloxone and do rescue breathing. Fentanyl may require multiple doses of naloxone to restore breathing.
- Never use drugs alone.
- Be careful about using too fast. Fentanyl is fast acting and deadly. Many experienced opioid users have overdosed or died by using too much, too quickly.
Tulalip has adopted the Lois Luella Jones Law, if you have a friend who is overdosing; you can and should call 911.The law says neither the victim nor persons assisting with an overdose will be prosecuted for drug possession.
Naloxone is a lifesaving medication used to counteract opioid overdose. Naloxone kits are now available FREE for Tulalip Tribal members at Family Services 360-716-4400. Kits are also available at the Tulalip Pharmacy through your insurance company. In addition, visit StopOverdose.org for additional locations that provide Naloxone.
Tulalip Family Services can also help tribal members detox and get treatment, 360-716-4400 or https://www.tulaliphealthsystem.com/BehavioralHealth/ChemicalDependency
Non-natives can seek help by visiting, http://www.warecoveryhelpline.org/or calling, 1-866-789-1511.
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
For over two centuries, many law enforcement agencies often relied on a special breed of detectives to help enforce the law and protect their communities. These specialists possess a certain skillset, using their heightened sense of smell to help with search and rescue missions, crime scene investigations and special taskforce assignments involving drugs or homicide. These officers go through extensive training, sharpening their skills and learning a number of commands as well as how to conduct themselves while on duty. With an affinity for serving, protecting and always catching their perpetrator, these officers share many similarities with their fellow police men and women – with a few minor exceptions of course, including the fact that these officers have fur, four legs and a tail.
It’s easy to see how the term ‘man’s best friend’ came to be. Looking back on the history of K-9 officers, it’s no shocker that dogs have assisted on many major cases throughout the course of time, helping shut down major crime operations and drug distributions as well as tracking runaway youth, fugitives and missing people. K-9 officers are simply motivated to do a good job and are an important asset and an excellent addition to any police department.
On Sunday November 18, the Tulalip Police Department (TPD) welcomed a new officer to the team by the name of Tipper, a nineteen-month old black lab. The following day, a three-year old border collie named Kait also joined the unit. After several weeks of training, the young lady pups are now officially TPD K-9 Officers and are focused solely on ridding the Tulalip community of illegal drugs.
“This nation is dealing with an opioid epidemic,” says TPD Deputy Chief Sherman Pruitt. “It’s one of the big issues going on right now on this reservation, as well as all reservations throughout the United States. Bringing on two K-9 officers is beneficial for our police department as well as the reservation to combat that epidemic. They are trained to identify certain drugs, as you know marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, so they’re mainly trained with heroin, meth as well as cocaine. We’re exposed to a lot of drugs out here including fentanyl which is ten times stronger than heroin. Having these K-9 units will help combat that.”
Kait’s partner, TPD Officer Tre Pruitt, recently explained the long but worthwhile process of becoming a certified handler of a K-9 officer. He expressed that he always wanted to have a K-9 partner and immediately applied when the opportunity came. Five fellow TPD Officers also applied. They wrote essays, took a series tests and interviewed for a chance to become certified handlers by attending a six-week long K-9 training at the Washington State Department of Corrections Narcotic Dog Academy in Shelton, Washington. After a competitive application process, Officer Pruitt and Officer Jacob Wilcox were selected and traveled to Shelton to meet their new partners.
“She’s very friendly and calm,” Officer Pruitt beams as his partner obediently sits by his side. “Most of the dispatchers call her a therapy dog, everyone loves her. She pays a little more attention to detail than most other dogs and is very particular with her work. Once she’s tasked with finding something, she’s dead set on finding it.”
All of a sudden Kait sat up at attention and her ears perked up. Seconds later, the door at the opposite end of the police department opened.
“Who’s that, girl?” Officer Pruitt asked his excited partner. “Is that your friend?”
He let her off her leash and she did a quick spin before sprinting down the hall. Just as quick as she vanished, she reappeared, only this time she was chased by Tipper.
The dogs hurried to the large open space at the center of the department. Kait stopped on a dime and Tipper also halted as they faced each other. Kait juked left before immediately running in the opposite direction. Tipper recovered quickly, as she was fooled only briefly, and was now hot on Kait’s tail. The dogs continued to engage in a friendly game of doggy tag before duty called for Kait and Officer Pruitt. Tipper trotted back to Officer Wilcox who happily spoke about becoming acquainted with his new partner.
“She kind of took to me,” he says. “We trained with a bunch of a different dogs and this dog fit with me; wherever I went, she followed. We grew a bond together while at training. She’s a pup so we had to introduce her to narcotics, this is what it smells like and here’s your ball if you find it. She wouldn’t sit right away when she smelled the drugs, she’d actually give me an animated look like, ‘dad I found it, now give me the ball’. So we had to get her to sit, that’s how I know she’s got something.”
The K-9 officers also live in the homes of their partners. Officers Pruitt and Wilcox had to learn how to care for the dogs while off duty and learn what to feed them, what toys they can play with and how their families should interact with them, so the dogs are ready and focused when it’s time to return to work.
“Right now we have the two new K-9s, they will be working primarily late afternoons throughout the evening, seven days a week,” states TPD Chief Sutters. “Our goal is to have at least one K-9 on duty, helping patrol the streets of Tulalip. This is the introduction and part of our overall drug [taskforce] strategy.
“When there’s suspected narcotics on a call, in a car, in a residence or on a person, the dogs can be summoned to the scene and can use their detection senses,” he continues. “If they detect the presence of illegal drugs, officers are trained to take it to the next step. We want to use all the tools available to protect the citizens of Tulalip. These dogs are great assets to the police department, they can smell through luggage, clothing, locked containers, cars, they can detect narcotics in hidden places that our officers wouldn’t be able to find easily.”
During their first few weeks on duty, the K-9 officers have already discovered a significant amount of stashed baggies hidden in vehicles, backpacks and on-person of users entering and leaving the reservation.
Officer Wilcox pointed out that the drugs up north are made and cut with different chemicals than the drugs they were originally trained with, claiming they emit a different odor. Because of the recent findings, the K-9s are becoming more familiar with the smell of the drugs they will be primarily searching for in Tulalip.
“If anything, it’ll scare a lot of drug dealers from coming out here, now that they know we have the dogs,” says Officer Wilcox “You’ll be seeing the K-9 officers out on the road and that will impact the amount of incoming drugs.”
Aside from busting local drug operations, Tipper and Kait are excited to get to know the people of Tulalip and will be visiting with the youth at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy, Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and Heritage High School. The dogs will also be in attendance at many upcoming community events and are happy to meet you and your family, so be sure to say hello if you get the chance.
“Bringing our K-9 units out to the community and to the kids at the schools is beneficial for both the department and our community,” says Deputy Chief Pruitt. “Our K-9 officers are a tool and a resource to our agency but are also a friend and a family member. Working for the Tulalip Tribes, we are very family oriented, so bringing on the K-9 officers to the TPD family means we are also welcoming them to our Tulalip family.”
Submitted by Joseph G. Dyer
Last Friday (10-12-18) Tulalip Police Department (TPD) officers canvassed the Mission Highlands neighborhood to listen to community members and hear whatever feedback they had to offer. Officers were met with community members in a casual setting and learned how they can help meet the needs of the community.
While going door-to-door, TPD officers passed out contact information and gave children badge stickers and refrigerator magnets.
TPD would like to start a conversation with the community and to help residents feel like their needs are being addressed. Meeting community members in their own neighborhoods is the beginning to that goal. TPD will be visiting other neighborhoods to further that goal and to foster that relationship.
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
After longtime Police Chief Carlos Echevarria resigned back on December 4, 2017, the Board of Directors named Commander Sherman Pruitt interim chief. Since that time, the process to fill the post permanently was ongoing, but it has finally come to a close. On September 24, Police Chief Chris Sutter was formally introduced to lead the Tulalip Police Department.
“The Tulalip Tribes is pleased to announce that Chris Sutter is joining the Tulalip Police Department as our new Chief of Police. Following a comprehensive search for the right candidate, Chief Sutter’s experience and background quickly rose to the top of our candidate pool. We welcome Chief Sutter and his family to our community,” stated Chairwoman Marie Zackuse.
Chief Sutter met with syəcəb staff for an interview detailing his past experience as a law enforcement officer and what his immediate vision is for leading the tribal police department. What follows is an unedited transcript of that interview.
Q: The first thing many are wondering is what is your law enforcement background?
A: I come to Tulalip with 32-years of law enforcement experience. The last 26 years has been with the City of Vancouver in southwest Washington, where I served as assistant chief of police the past 10 years.
Q: Please describe your experience working with Native communities?
A: My experience working with Native communities is more on the personal family side. I’m married to an enrolled tribal member of the Navajo nation. For 38-years, we’ve enjoyed a very happy family and close relations with our tribal family. Also, in my previous role as assistant chief, I held a monthly diversity advisory meeting with representatives of the diverse Vancouver community which included Native American representation.
Q: Uprooting from Vancouver, will you be living in Tulalip now?
A: Yes, I found a rental home here in the community and am very much looking forward to being part of the community. As the school year completes, my wife and daughter will joining me here in Tulalip.
Q: What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve over the next couple years with the Tulalip Police Department?
A: I have many goals and a high-level vision for moving the department forward. Number one is to make sure Tulalip is a safe and secure place for families, children and the elders. We’re going to start by eradicating the drug problem in the neighborhoods. We’ll also be working on community outreach to make sure people know that their police department is here to serve them. In addition, we’ll be looking into ways we can best serve the fish and wildlife branch of the department to ensure tribal sovereignty and treaty rights are always respected and upheld.
Q: Our last few police chiefs have tried to tackle the opioid epidemic. What are some ideas you bring to the table on this issue?
A: Number one is we can’t allow people to be selling drugs to our tribal members and anyone else in the community. We have to crack down on those who are profiting on this horrible trade that causes such devastating impacts to individuals and families. We’ll be implementing a very robust narcotics taskforce that’s going to take down the dealers. In my opinion, the first step is to go after those people who are bringing the drugs into our community.
Q: How do you see the Tulalip Police Department engaging with the community going forward?
A: Community engagement is as simple as directing all the officers to make sure they are taking the time to get out of their cars in order to walk and talk with people we serve. Making face-to-face, personal connections is the first step to building a better relationship. We are also going to find opportunities to sit with tribal elders and receive their guidance and wisdom, ensuring we have good open lines of communication. Additional outreach will involve our youth. I strongly believe the youth are our future and the more we outreach, mentor, and guide them to make good life choices the better the outcomes.
Q: Describe your experience working with tribal police?
A: During my time in Vancouver, I acquired experience working with the Cowlitz Reservation and their newly created police department under former Tulalip police chief Goss. Through that connection we built a quality working relationship and provided assistance to each other when needed.
Q: What’s your message to the Tulalip community?
A: I feel blessed to be here to serve the people. My message is we are here to serve you. We want to make sure you always feel welcome and comfortable to make contact with our dedicated staff of officers and civilians. My commitment to the community is we are going to do our very best to make your neighborhoods secure and to make Tulalip Reservation a place residents are very proud to live.
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
It was a gorgeous afternoon, clear skies and just a little over eighty degrees, on August 7. The tide was high and the waters of Tulalip Bay appeared more blue than usual, providing a spectacular view for the Tulalip community as they gathered to celebrate the 35th Annual National Night Out with the Tulalip Police Department (TPD). Held in the Tulalip Youth Services parking lot, the event attracted several families of many generations who they came to have a good time and thank local law officials for protecting the community.
“National Night Out is an annual event that most law enforcement agencies throughout the United States hold for their communities, typically in the month of August,” explains Tulalip Interim Chief Sherman Pruitt. “The police department and other tribal departments come together to provide resources, that way people can see the services that are offered and provided to them within their community. It’s always a great time. The kids come out, we have jumpies, we have our K-9 officer, we have the police vehicle that kids can go in and out of. Just spending that time so they can see the police officers in a different, positive light.”
That summertime barbeque aroma filled the air while officers grilled up hot dogs for their guests. Attendees visited the many stations at the event, learning about services offered at programs like the Tulalip Child Advocacy Center, the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy and the Legacy of Healing. The Tulalip Office of Emergency Management was also in attendance and provided local citizens with safety information, as was the Tulalip Lions Club who donated numerous books to the youth.
The Tulalip Bay Fire Department was sure to make an appearance at National Night Out to re-spark an old on-the-court basketball rivalry between the two emergency response teams. This year, however, the Fire Department and TPD decided to mix things up, literally, by creating teams consisting of players from both departments on each team. A terrific display of camaraderie as Chief Pruitt passed the ball to Tulalip Bay Fire Department Chief Shaughnessy, exclaiming, ‘hit that Ryan!’
“We’re here to show our support for our local law enforcement and also be here for the community,” says Chief Shaughnessy. “It’s a fun night; the community gets to see their firefighters and their police officers and get in touch with them when it’s not a 9-1-1 call. It’s a great night for everybody to meet up, play some basketball, do some BBQ-ing and see the fire trucks and police cars. We appreciate TPD extending the invitation to us, we’re glad to be here.”
TPD officers gave the youth an up close look at their squad cars, showing them all of the cameras and gadgets they use while on the job. Officers were seen socializing with community members and laughter could be heard from all directions of the parking lot.
“It was a great turnout,” states TPD Officer, Aissa Thompson. “Everyone brought their families and I enjoy meeting new people. It’s good getting acquainted with the community you don’t always get a chance to interact with on a day-to-day basis. It was great playing basketball with a few of the girls from the community as well. I appreciate everybody coming out.”
As young Tulalip tribal member Kaiser Moses visited each booth, he took a moment to take in all of the good vibes his fellow community members seemed to be exuding.
“I like to see everybody talking, having fun and getting to know each other a little more,” he expressed. “It’s really important for the law enforcement and community to get together and talk because that’s what makes a strong bond. It’s important to have good communication between the law enforcement and the community because the law enforcement is what protects the community. And you don’t want the community to be afraid of the law enforcement, you want them to be like friends.”
Another successful National Night Out is in the books for TPD as this year’s event was a smash yet again, strengthening the relationship between the community and the police force that much more.
“My favorite part is the kids,” says Chief Pruitt. “Seeing them come over to see us and ask questions, because they’ve got an abundance of questions to ask, regarding law enforcement and showing an interest in that. Some of them even expressed that they want to be police officers when they grow up and I love to hear that.”
By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
On the afternoon of May 31, the Tulalip Police Department (TPD) joined other Washington State police departments in the Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run. Police departments from across the Nation participate in the yearly run in an effort to raise funds for the Special Olympics USA Games. Law enforcement officials carry the Flame of Hope to their respective state’s Special Olympics Spring Games to help kick off the competition.
Washington’s Spring Games took place at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma during the first weekend of June. Several police departments that joined in runs across the state met at the University. TPD participated with a group that began at the Washington State-British Columbia border, joining the team in Stanwood and also running through Quil Ceda Village, Tulalip and Marysville.
“It was awesome to participate,” says TPD Officer and Torch Runner, David Taylor. “To see the other departments link up together and do something positive for the community is great. Not a lot of people know about the Torch Run, so being able to be a part of it and raise funds and awareness was pretty cool, it meant a lot that they asked us to do it. We ran about twelve miles.”
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games takes place in Seattle this year at the UW Husky Stadium from July 1-6. Over 4,000 athletes will participate in variety of sports including track, basketball, bowling, golf, gymnastics and softball. For donation information and further details, please visit www.SpecialOlympics.org