The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors is poised to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Tuesday that could result in Smith River finally getting a resident sheriff’s deputy.

The issue has been a controversy for many in Smith River because of a surge in petty crimes and extended response times by police.

According to the release, both the sheriff and the Tribe recognize the area receives inadequate law enforcement coverage due to limited resources.

In an email, Sheriff Erik Apperson told county counsel “The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation has stepped up (to) the plate and provided a quality individual to help augment our currently strained law enforcement team by paying his way through a police academy and all of the related expenses that came with that. He has proven himself to pass all of our internal and externally governed hiring qualifications. He is ready to serve and we are ready to have him serve.”

“In January of this year, the Tribe sent Tribal Citizen Wade Owen to the College of the Redwoods to complete the necessary Police Academy training to become a reserve deputy,” said a press release from the Tolowa Dee Ni Nation. “Owen was raised in Smith River before serving in the Air Force and ultimately returning to Del Norte County.”

Tribal Chairperson Scott Sullivan said, “The Tribe has always been generous to the community, but this agreement exemplifies our commitment to increasing public safety and formally demonstrates the Tribe’s contributions to the community.”

The MOU represents the beginning of a working relationship between the tribe, county and sheriff and is seen as a positive step in bringing awareness to the needs of Smith River, according to the press release.

Owen said he is excited to serve the community and that being a tribal citizen, he is in a unique position to provide that service.

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