EBCI Police Commission on the chopping block

Former CIPD chief Josh Taylor spoke in favor of the ordinance to dissolve the police commission. From Facebook Former CIPD chief Josh Taylor spoke in favor of the ordinance to dissolve the police commission. From Facebook

Former Cherokee Indian Police Department Chief Josh Taylor has now made it clear that he stands behind a push from at least one tribal council member to dissolve the Cherokee Police Commission. 

The ordinance to dissolve the commission was submitted to council earlier this month by Dike Sneed, who previously served as police chief before sitting on council. 

“Since its creation, the Cherokee Police Commission has strayed away from its original purpose of transparency and oversight of the Cherokee Indian Police Department,” the ordinance reads, “and in certain cases it has gone so far as inhibiting transparency and abusing its oversight.”  

“The existence of the Cherokee Police Commission is diminishing the authority of the Executive Office to directly oversee its programs, all while creating a chain of command conflict for the Chief of Police and the Principal Chief,” it later reads.  

But despite the strong language in the ordinance, Taylor refrained from lobbing any specific allegations. In fact, he said several times that he has nothing against the commission or its members, but rather he thinks it’s obsolete and often repeats work that is already done by other EBCI boards. Essentially, he said the existence of the board, whose members are paid, is a waste of money.   

Nominations to serve on the Cherokee Police Commission are made by the chief with council approval. The commission consists of eight members, six of whom represent the six tribal townships, one is an at-large male and one an at-large female.

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The proposed change strikes all language in the current ordinance related to the police commission. That language states that the commission is to provide “performance and regulatory oversight” of tribal law enforcement agencies while also acting as a liaison between those agencies and the community. This includes CPD, ALE, natural resources environment office, animal control, marshall service/prohibition and the detention center. The commission, as it stands now, is also tasked with analyzing data to come up with policy recommendations, and it has the authority to hear appeals from law enforcement personnel who are fired or likewise, community members concerned with officer misconduct.  

“Community service is doing that same thing,” Sneed said during a March 20 work session.  

CIPD Chief Carla Neadeau had requested the work session but was unable to attend because she’s on medical leave. Although Taylor now heads up tribal Alcohol Law Enforcement, he is still a sworn officer and was there on Neadeau’s behalf. Taylor noted that the idea of dissolving the police commission has been brought up “numerous times” in the past. While he said he understood why the commission was created over a decade ago, it’s become obsolete and has even come to the point where there is an “us versus them” mentality.  

“They don’t understand what it’s like to be a police officer,” he said.

Ultimately, Taylor seemed to agree with Sneed.

“We cannot have boards that are duplicating services,” he said, adding that an advisory board could be created that would be more effective. Members of that board, he suggested, could be Neadeau, EBCI Attorney General Mike McConnell, CIPD attorney Cody White and four members of Tribal Council. Taylor noted that other places have similar advisory boards that have done good work, including in Mecklenburg County.  

Although the proposal to dissolve the police commission was discussed at the commission’s most recent meeting on March 18, that meeting was closed to the public so it isn’t known how most members felt. However, two commission members spoke before council at the work session. Commission member Kym Parker said the commission will be vital when it comes time to draft a policy manual, noting that they’ve worked well with Neadeau on moving toward that goal. Commission Chairman Gene Tunney Crowe said the commission has done a lot to help the community and wants to continue that work.  

“If we had the opportunity to sit down and work with the police department, there’s no telling the things we could accomplish,” he said.  

Likewise, Teresa McCoy, a former councilmember who also ran for chief, spoke to council in support of the commission.  

“I think if you quiz the majority of people here, they’d tell you to elect the chief of police and keep the police commission,” she said. 

The ordinance may come before council for a vote at the April meeting.

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