Appointment of Blood Tribe police chief blocked

LETHBRIDGE — The Blood Tribe in southern Alberta has no police chief after federal and provincial officials blocked the appointment of an officer who had been suspended.

LETHBRIDGE — The Blood Tribe in southern Alberta has no police chief after federal and provincial officials blocked the appointment of an officer who had been suspended.

Officials from the two governments stepped in after the Blood Tribe Police Commission appointed Sgt. Allen Eli-Wolf Tail to the job.

Eli-Wolf Tail had recently returned to work after being suspended with pay for more than a year after he was charged with assault. The matter was later resolved with a peace bond.

Blood Chief Charles Weaselhead says federal officials had threatened to withhold further funding for the tribal police service beyond March 30 unless Wolf Tail was removed.

He says an interim chief from an outside police agency is to be appointed until a permanent replacement is found.

In order to continue receiving federal money for policing, the tribal council must also introduce conflict-of-interest guidelines that prohibit immediate family members of active tribal police officers from serving on the police commission.

The Blood Tribe asked that RCMP to provide administrative assistance on Feb. 1.

Sgt. Kelly Bielert will be acting administrative head of the Blood police force.

Lois Frank, who was the chairwoman of the tribal police commission from 2005 to 2007, said her concern is for the members of the Blood Tribe.

“We have a lack of leadership, and the people are suffering.”

Bob Byers, a former 30-year member of the RCMP, was the police chief until the end of January, when his contract expired.

Frank says she was involved in hiring Byers in January 2006 after two previous police chiefs resigned after serving less than a year each.

“It was like the Dukes of Hazzard,” she said about how the force was when she began her term as chairwoman.

“There was chaos. There was no police chief. There was no deputy chief.”

She says the appointment Eli-Wolf Tail as acting police chief “was a totally bad move” which has tarnished the police service’s image.