S’Klallam expands court programs with federal grants

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe is expanding a few of its law enforcement programs after receiving more than $1 million in grants from the U.S. Justice Department.

The grants go to strengthen tribal law enforcement -- for S’Klallam, adult court services and domestic violence were key areas in need of assistance. Denise Comstock, executive director of the tribe’s foundation which wrote the grant application, said the foundation spoke with all the tribe’s department heads to decide which programs needed the most help.

“I’m surprised on how large the grant ended up being, although we certainly hoped for the best,” Port Gamble S'Klallam Chairman Jeromy Sullivan said. “A lot of our services really need an upgrade.”

Comstock said the two grants -- nearly $500,000 for tribal court assistance, and $530,000 for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention -- will go to bolster existing programs.

Jennifer Olanie, S’Klallam court administrator, said they can now have two probation officers to help support adult offenders; and are implementing a culture-based fatherhood support group, which will “reinforce the unique role fathers play” in tribal life, Comstock added.

“We’re a small population [and] are cognizant of our issues and want to help the best we can in the most positive way,” Sullivan said. Jail is preferably the last option, according to Sullivan and Olanie, and their tribal system tries for supervised, rehabilitative programs first.

The second grant will expand “stop domestic violence” programs, including additional personnel to help with cases, and focusing on youth education.

“We came to the conclusion we need to stop violent behavior at its core, which is teaching kids not to [commit domestic violence],” Olanie said.

The Justice Department awarded $11 million in grants to nine other western Washington American Indian tribes.

“We’re thrilled to have this. Not only do we get to continue [the programs] but we get to expand them a bit,” Olanie said.


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