Interim chief appointed; search on for a replacement
The Yurok Tribal Police Department has an interim chief while the tribe searches for a permanent replacement for former Police Chief Mary McQuillen.
Sheriff Dean Wilson told the Triplicate on Friday that McQuillen was fired.
“That’s what I’ve been informed of. I don’t know what prompted it,” said Wilson. “I’ve heard all sorts of different stories and none of them have been validated.”
McQuillen’s last day was Aug. 23, said Yurok attorney Charles Henry. He declined to elaborate as to whether she was fired or the reasons for her departure.
Henry has been handling media inquiries into an officer-related shooting at the Salmon Festival on Aug. 17 that involved an armed robbery suspect who allegedly tried to run down two officers as he drove away. The two officers, who fired at the suspect’s vehicle and apparently wounded him, were placed on administrative leave while an investigation into the shooting continues.
“The shooting was not part and parcel of that (McQuillen) decision. Beyond that I wouldn’t want to speculate,” said Henry.
Leonard Masten has been chosen to lead the department on an interim basis, Henry said.
Sheriff Wilson said the Tribal Police have jurisdiction to handle federal crimes on the reservation in Klamath. Some of the deputies have also been cross-deputized so they are able execute arrests related to state crimes on the reservation and support local law enforcement that falls into the county’s jurisdiction in the area.
“They are considered reserve deputies for the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office through that process,” said Wilson. “With that authority they are able to enforce state law upon tribal lands because without that authority they have no ability to enforce state laws,” said Wilson.
The cross-deputization involves completing the state’s police officer training as well as training by the Sheriff’s Office, Wilson said.
“Also, because they’re reserves in our Sheriff’s Office, they can assist and do assist on responding to calls off tribal lands,” said Wilson. “They’ve been helpful to use down there.”