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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The Tulalip Tribal Police Department (TPD) in Tulalip, Washington, provides law enforcement services for the entire Tulalip Tribal Reservation, which covers 22,000 acres approximately 40 miles north of Seattle. Led by Chief Carlos Echevarria, the department has 43 commissioned officers and 15 non-commissioned team members. It responds to roughly 25,000 calls for service annually from the reservation’s 2,500 tribal members and 12,500 non-member residents.
The Tulalip Tribes’ economic success has been propelled by a business model that encourages tourism to the community. The reservation area, north of the Snohomish river, offers a number of recreational activities, such as shopping, gaming, golf, and concerts. In addition, the Quil Ceda Village hosts a daily visitor count of anywhere between 75,000 to 100,000 people.
Tulalip is not immune to the problems facing many communities in the country—heroin and homelessness are two of the area’s immediate challenges. To help address these issues, TPD officers are trained on how to administer naloxone/narcan. The department is also exploring programs and partnerships with local nonprofits to help with outreach, prevention, and treatment. In addition to these ongoing efforts, TPD officers are committed to proactive engagement with community members. Some of the department’s engagement efforts include hosting National Night Out, at least four community BBQs yearly, and “Pop with a Cop,” which is an unannounced pickup basketball game with youth.
“We try extremely hard to remain engaged with the community on a regular basis,” shared Chief Echevarria. “Staffing shortages and high call volume make this difficult at times; we do our best. The community holds us accountable if we miss too many events.”
The majority of TPD officers have ties to the Tulalip Tribes—many are enrolled tribal members, spouses of members, parents of tribal children, or have friends and family employed by the Tulalip Tribes. “They all have a vested interest to make the Tulalip community as safe as possible by building community partnerships, engaging the youth, and enforcing the law when applicable, but not always,” said Echevarria. “In many ways, the close ties to the community provide the added motivation and compassion required for the position.”
Echevarria, who is a member of the Tulalip tribe, started his career in law enforcement in 2001 with TPD. In May 2014, he was appointed chief of police—the first tribal member to hold the position post retrocession.1 He is a graduate of Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command, and a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
Tulalip’s winning photo features Officer James Cabras and two sisters during a Halloween event at the Tulalip Early Learning Center. Cabras was one of many TPD officers who visited the center for the Halloween event to interact with the children, compliment their costumes, and help pass out candy. TPD officers believe that interaction with children in a safe space helps to build trust and mutual respect that will develop relationships in the future, ultimately helping to combat crime.
“I believe our presence also took a little bit of the fear out of Halloween,” shared Officer Joe Dyer, who submitted the winning photo.
The COPS Office congratulates the Tulalip Tribal Police Department for being one of the 12 winners of the COPS Office 2017 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest and for its commitment to community policing.
Written with contributions from Chief Carlos Echevarria and Officer Joe Dyer, Tulalip Tribal Police Department.
1 “Tulalip Selects Own as New Police Chief,” Tulalip News, May 14, 2011, http://www.tulalipnews.com/wp/2014/05/14/tulalip-selects-own-as-new-police-chief/.
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