Sheriff’s Office Deputizes Blue Lake Rancheria Police Officers

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

Sheriff William F. Honsal is pleased to announce that the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has entered into a deputization agreement with the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe.

This agreement further strengthens the ties between the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe and the County of Humboldt, allowing for better coverage and efficiency in public safety services within the Rancheria and surrounding areas.

“This agreement has been years in the making and I’m very happy with the outcome,” Sheriff Honsal said. “The deputization of Blue Lake Tribal Police officers is a crucial step forward to providing Humboldt County residents on and off the Rancheria with the public safety services they deserve. The tribal officers, being aware of the unique cultural issues of the Rancheria, will help us better serve the community and increase public safety as a whole.”

Prior to the agreement, the Blue Lake Tribal Police Department was federally commissioned, meaning officers could enforce federal law but not California law. According to Tribal Police Chief Floyd Stokes, this stipulation seriously limited the public safety services the department was able to provide and the justice the community received.

“A lot of crimes that occur on tribal properties are better handled through California courts than federal courts,” Chief Stokes said. “We can’t do our business well enough unless we have access to California courts and we don’t have access unless we are California peace officers.”

The Blue Lake Rancheria joins the Yurok and Hoopa Tribes, who also have deputization agreements with the Sheriff. Federally recognized tribal peace officers, who have graduated a state police academy and have completed the 720-hour field-training program with the Sheriff’s Office, will have the power to enforce California law on and off tribal lands under the deputization agreement. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office will supervise tribal officers during the course of investigating state crimes. Deputized tribal officers will be distinctively recognized by wearing a deputy sheriff badge and one Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office shoulder patch.

“Deputization with the Sheriff’s Office is absolutely vital for us to run a full service police department,” Chief Stokes said. “The whole objective is for us to be able to assist the Sheriff’s Office if they have a need and for us to handle a criminal activity on the Rancheria as it occurs.”

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office looks forward to this partnership with the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe and thanks the Tribal Police Department for their dedication to meet deputization standards.