First 'Chat With the Chief' held

By Danielle Frost

It’s not common to see citizens and police officers breaking garlic bread together, but that’s exactly what happened in Grand Ronde recently.

In an effort to improve community policing, Tribal Police Chief Jake McKnight hosted the first-ever “Chat With the Chief” event at the police station on Grand Ronde Road on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Grand Ronde Tribal Police Chief Jake McKnight, left, talks with community member Don Christensen during Chat With the Chief event held at the Tribal Police Station on Wednesday, Oct. 25. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)

He said he decided to start the chats to help encourage positive interaction between law enforcement and citizens, and to improve community policing.

“We plan to have these events every few months,” McKnight said. “We want to get the community more involved with the police department.”

Topics of discussion included McKnight’s recent 10-week FBI training in Quantico, Va., the National Drug Take-back Day event held on Saturday, Oct. 28, prescription drug abuse and treatment options, crime trends and community needs.

McKnight brought out his brick from the famous “Yellow Brick Road” run to show attendees who inquired about his FBI training. It is from the final test of the fitness challenge at Quantico.

Participants must complete a 6.1-mile run through a hilly, wooded trail built by the Marines. Along the way, they scale walls, run through creeks, jump through simulated windows, rope climb rock faces, crawl under barbed wire in muddy water, maneuver across a cargo net and more. When the course is completed, students receive a yellow brick to memorialize their achievement, which McKnight has displayed in his office.

In addition to McKnight, other Tribal Police attendees at the event were Sgt. Rod McAllister, Lt. Timothy Hernandez, Officer Tyler Brown and Evidence Technician Egypt Leno.

Tribal Planning Department Manager Rick George, Tribal Elder Barbara Feehan and Tribal member Veronica Gaston also attended.

A meal of lasagna, garlic bread and salad was served to all who walked through the doors, including several volunteers from the Food Bank located across the parking lot, who thanked officers for hosting the event and providing a meal.

“We will continue to host these so we can keep that open communication going,” McKnight said.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, community policing emphasizes proactive problem-solving rather than responding to crime only after it occurs, with this philosophy infused into all police operations and guiding decision-making efforts.

“Agencies are encouraged to think innovatively about their responses and view making arrests as only one of a wide array of potential responses,” the website states.

McKnight has said that Grand Ronde police force is fortunate to have community support in its efforts and that he hopes to build on that foundation.

McKnight, 40, was tapped as Grand Ronde’s police chief in December 2015. He succeeded Al La Chance, who retired in February 2016 and also was the community’s first police officer after working for the Natural Resources Department patrolling Tribal forestlands.