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Oglala Sioux Tribe’s new police chief revamps department

November 10, 2018

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) — The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s new police chief has revamped the department six months into the position, bringing new ideas and programming to the law enforcement agency that was lacking leadership and manpower.

Robert Ecoffey, the tribe’s police chief, told the Rapid City Journal that the biggest impact in the last six months has been the number of officers the department has spread throughout Pine Ridge Reservation. The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s police department now has 54 police officers, compared to 24 officers in April, he said.

Ecoffey said police’s response time used to be much slower because officers would have to respond to calls from up to 60 miles away, at times.

“Our presence is much more felt by the community,” he said.

The 64-year-old came out of a five-year retirement to become the tribe’s new police chief. Ecoffey said he made the decision because the tribe was having issues finding stable leadership.

Ecoffey also encouraged a former colleague to come out of retirement to work in a cold case unit he created. The unit works on unsolved missing and murdered person cases, including the October 2016 disappearance of Larissa Lonehill.

Ecoffey said he’s assigned three full-time officers to work on enforcing the tribe’s drug and alcohol laws on the reservation, where alcohol sale and consumption are illegal.

Many people thought illegal alcohol sales would decrease after the border town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, shuttered its beer stores, but Ecoffey said he’s seen more bootlegging.

He said he’s found people selling vodka disguised as plastic water bottles.

“They’re selling everything and anything to anybody,” Ecoffey said. “There’s no control over what they’re selling.”

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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