The Red Lake Department of Public Safety would like to proudly announce for the 2015-2016 BIA Traffic Safety reporting period as measured in one year increments, there were "ZERO DEATHS" reported on reservation roadways on the Red Lake Reservation. The reporting period was October 1st, 2015 to September 30, 2016 and there are 675 reservation roadway miles.
It is the goal of all communities and traffic safety programs nationwide to reduce fatalities directly related to traffic accidents and gravitate, “TOWARDS ZERO DEATHS” and RED LAKE has completed that lifesaving goal!
In 2010, there were 7 reported fatalities, 2011-4 fatalities, 2012-3 fatalities, 2013-4 fatalities, 2014-3 fatalities, 2015-2 fatalities and 2016, “ZERO” reported fatalities! In working “Towards Zero Deaths”, Red Lake has two full-time traffic safety law enforcement officers funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Highway Safety Program. The Department of Public Safety started participating in the Highway Safety Program after being awarded a grant in 2008 to fund one full-time traffic safety officer and eventually was awarded funding for two full-time officers in 2014 and have successfully received the grant for the last 8 years. The grants also included overtime funding for any officers assigned to work traffic safety mobilizations during required traffic safety waves. The traffic safety officers and assigned staff are responsible for protecting drivers and occupants using tribal roadways in an effort to decrease motor vehicle fatalities, impaired driving and speed related accidents by encouraging good driving habits, wearing seatbelts and providing general enforcement for all traffic offenses.
In working “Towards Zero Deaths”, traffic safety officers implemented a number of community education programs involving traffic safety initiatives in reservation wide schools, safety camps for youth, Elder Abuse Conferences, Red Lake Reservation service provider programs and Casino staff.
In addition, the department also worked closely with the Red Lake Reservation Code Committee to implement new laws directly related to improving community safety on tribal roadways. The code committee is responsible for developing new tribal laws and statutes as needed or revising existing laws.
One of the most major and successful changes for the department resulted in getting the tribe to adopt a primary seatbelt law. Previously, officers could only enforce seatbelt violations after making a stop for a moving violation because the code only contained a secondary seatbelt law and now officers can make stops upon observing unbelted motor vehicle drivers and occupants. The department is currently working with the code committee to get a distracted driving law passed for those who are texting and driving and anticipate a successful change and is constantly looking at new ways to improve traffic safety.
The department also implemented all required traffic safety mobilizations as stipulated in the BIA funded grant throughout the year such as “Click it or Ticket”, “Don’t Drink and Drive” and “Don’t Shatter the Dream”. The department also conducts special tours of duty for traffic safety during all major holidays, Pow Wow celebrations and other community events in addition to setting up numerous DWI check points to detect impaired drivers and seize alcohol because Red Lake is a “Dry Reservation” meaning the possession of alcohol is illegal. Red Lake officers are also assigned to work specific drug interdiction patrols to target illegal drugs and narcotics as well.
The department was also the recipient of several traffic safety equipment awards from the State of Minnesota Traffic Safety Program for performing outstanding traffic safety during Minnesota Law Enforcement mobilizations. Requests were also made by State of Minnesota officials to provide training at the “Towards Zero Deaths” conference in St. Cloud, MN and Tribal Engineering and Roads conference in Morton, MN to showcase Red Lake’s success in traffic enforcement.
Lastly, this outstanding accomplishment could not be done without the Red Lake Communities commitment, participation and support towards reducing and eliminating deaths on Tribal Roadways!