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Tulalip Police Chief resigns at request of Tribes Board

TULALIP — Scott Smith, the Tulalip Tribal Police chief since early in 2008, stepped down from his post July 10, after being asked to leave by Tulalip tribal leaders.

Tulalip Tribes Chair Mel Sheldon stated that "general differences" were the reasons that the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors decided to "amicably part" with Smith, but Sheldon did not elaborate any further on what those reasons were.

According to Smith, he was told that he wasn't the right fit for the job of Tulalip Tribal Police chief. Smith stated July 15 that he didn't disagree with the Board, and that he respects the Board's decision, as well as its prerogative to release Smith from his contract, "as part of the political process." He expressed pride in the "good progress" that the Tulalip Tribal Police made during his tenure.

The Board has issued a statement explaining that, until a replacement is hired, the duties of chief will be handled by two Tulalip Tribal Police officers, administrative Cmdr. Mike Catlett and patrol Cmdr. Carlos Echevarria. Sheldon elaborated that the Board would prefer to hire a chief who is either Native American or has experience working in Native American country. Among the sought-after traits that he specified were an understanding of Native American peoples, their issues and their sovereignty, as well as both the knowledge and ability to work with tribal and non-tribal agencies alike.

Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, with whom Smith worked to cross-commission Tulalip Tribal Police officers with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, expressed surprise at Smith's departure, and called Smith "a great leader." The cross-commissioning allowed Tulalip Tribal Police officers to arrest non-Native Americans on the Tulalip Reservation, whereas those officers had previously been forced to call Snohomish County Sheriff's Deputies, or Washington State Patrol troopers, to arrest non-Native Americans that the officers had stopped on reservation land. Lovick noted that the cross-commissioning of Tulalip Tribal Police officers will not be affected by Smith's departure, and he commended the cross-commissioned officers as "outstanding" and "doing a great job."

Sheldon denied that the Board's decision to remove Smith as chief had anything to do with Smith leading a raid on a tribal-owned fireworks stand at "Boom City" early in July. Tulalip Tribal Police officers found a large cache of illegal explosives at the stand, and the tribal members suspected of being involved in selling those illegal goods are awaiting prosecution in federal court.

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