Crow Agency, MT – The Crow Tribal Police Department (CTPD) that was created using a portion of the tribe’s $27 million federal CARES Act money has disbanded after just five months.
The Crow Tribe had been without its own internal police force for more than 30 years prior to forming the agency in June of 2020 using the COVID relief funds, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) oversaw law enforcement duties on the reservation prior to that time, but only one to four agents were physically located at Crow Agency at any given time.
The rest of the agents are located in Billings, approximately one hour away.
The Crow reservation is comprised of 2.3 million acres – approximately 3,600 square miles – and is roughly the size of the entire state of Connecticut, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
Conversely, Connecticut is policed by an estimated 6,628 officers.
Former Tribal Chairman Alvin “AJ” Not Afraid’s administration had previously made two federal applications trying to get the government to transfer the funds it had been using to provide BIA services over to the tribe so it could establish its own police force, but those applications ended up being denied.
When the $27 million CARES Act money came in April of 2020, he decided to bypass the federal process by using $4 million to help establish the CTPD.
He also purchased three new Chevrolet Tahoes and three used Dodge Chargers, all of which were equipped with police packages and computer tablets, and hired at least 15 officers, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
A portion of the funds was used to purchase a former museum to use as police headquarters, as well as multiple shipping containers that were supposed to be used as temporary jail facilities, although none of them were ever put into operation.
On Nov. 24, 2020, the five-month-old CTPD got into a high-speed chase with 17-year-old Braven Glenn, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
The teen ended up veering off of Interstate 90 and crashed into an oncoming train, killing him.
Toxicology reports indicated Glenn had marijuana and alcohol in his system at the time of the collision, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
Glenn’s family blames the CTPD for his death, and said they still haven’t received a report about what led to the chase or what occurred during the pursuit.
“How are people you’re supposed to trust to protect you in this community the same as the people that could kill you for speeding?” Glenn’s brother, Scott Old Bull, asked the Casper Star Tribune.
Glenn’s mother, Blossom Old Bull, said the tribal police department failed to help the community.
“It caused more damage than good,” she alleged. “We feel like they are hiding something, but we just want justice for our baby boy because his senseless death didn’t have to happen.”
The CTPD abruptly shut down shortly after the crash, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
Not Afraid was voted out of his position as tribal chairman right afterwards.
His replacement, Frank White Clay, has since appointed Jacob Stops as the tribe’s Incident Command information officer.
Stops said he is having an extremely hard time figuring out what Not Afraid’s administration did with the $27 million in CARES Act funds, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
He said there are few spending records and that the accountants the former administration used were from off of the Crow reservation.
“We’re all related around here,” Stops told the paper. “You have to understand, the walls have eyes and ears.”
White Clay has alleged Not Afraid misused the CARES Act funds by using a portion of them to fund the CTPD, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
He said additional equipment for the CTPD was purchased without the tribal legislature’s approval.
“We’re still trying to figure out exactly where that money went,” White Clay said.