‘We have to do something’: Blackfeet council passes resolution to bolster tribal law enforcement

NORA MABIE

For Blackfeet Councilwoman Vera Weaselhead, the problem is personal.

Her 19-year-old granddaughter, Malea Day Chief, suffered from a rare blood disorder and made two distress calls to an ambulance in April. Though Malea lived less than five minutes from the Blackfeet Community Hospital, Weaselhead said it took the ambulance 55 minutes to reach her apartment in Browning.

By the time help arrived, Weaselhead said “it was too late.”

“My baby died,” she said.

Weaselhead still doesn’t know why the ambulance was delayed, and she’s not alone in her frustration. Because Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services are under-resourced and understaffed, many people experience long wait times when calling for help.

Council Secretary Mark Pollock said about 18 tribal police officers patrol the reservation, which spans 1.5 million acres. But because officers must take time off between shifts, Pollock said sometimes two officers may be responsible for patrolling the entire reservation, which is home to more than 10,000 residents and larger than Delaware.

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“It’s dangerous,” he said, adding that it can take an officer anywhere from 45 minutes to one day to respond to a call.

Weaselhead said that too often, when help

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