Tribal Liaison Unit (TLU)
In 2008, Sheriff Stan Sniff believed more could be done to improve the level and quality of service the Riverside County Sheriff's Department was providing to the twelve tribal nations residing within Riverside County. Relationships with the tribes were strained at best and in most cases non-existent. Lack of trust of government and misunderstanding of criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country did nothing to alleviate fear or to ease the resentment of a law enforcement presence in Indian Country.
Sheriff Sniff created the Tribal Liaison Unit to address this challenge and provided the TLU with a clear mandate;
"Build and foster relationships within the Native American Communities in Riverside County, provide information and training to department personnel, as well as the tribal members, and to be creative in our approach to improving service and the quality of life on the reservations."
The Tribal Liaison Unit began by establishing communication with the elected tribal leaders of each of the twelve tribes. These contacts revealed that the Department had much to learn about tribal culture and history. It was also realized that tribal communities had little understanding of the Sheriff's Department or the California Criminal Justice System. To address this problem the Tribal Liaison Unit created training courses for Sheriff's personnel and for tribal members.
The training has been provided to thousands of people and continues today. Collaboration, communication, and mutual respect, have replaced fear and mistrust. The Department's continued efforts in Indian Country have yielded great results and relationships with the tribes have improved dramatically since 2008.
Sovereign Tribal Nations
California today is home to the largest population of Native Americans in the fifty states, and Riverside County is home to twelve unique and diverse tribal nations. The map above illustrates each tribe's location within Riverside County and the corresponding Sheriff's patrol station that provides service to the tribes.