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Oneida Nation Police Draw Praise on 20th Anniversary of Force

Chris Bolt/WAER News

The Oneida Indian Nation marked the 20th anniversary of its police force Thursday.  Officials from the surrounding community took the opportunity to say how they're benefitting.

Looking back at June’s flooding, Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley remembers being glad to have the support of the Oneida Indian Nation Police.

“Recently during the flooding, they were they when I called  for assistance.  I know the first night when it was flooded down there, the waters kept rising.  We had no way to get the houses, to get around.  Within an hour we had two boats there from the Nation to get us through, to get to houses, provide patrols for us, they also provided communications dispatch for us.”  

The force was put together 20 years ago…at a time when the Oneida casino and resort was just getting started.  And Nation Leader Ray Halbritter recalls, not everyone was neighborly.

“So our presence and our emergence, economically, you know there were issues.  And many people were not taught a lot of this.” 

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley (left) joins Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol in praising cooperation of Oneida Nation Police, with Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.

His department would have to deal with the potential of opposing residents and their actions.  But what’s developed, as Oneida Sheriff Robert Maciol sees it, is cooperation.

"Whether it’s small incidents of criminal activity on the casino property, or maybe someone we’re looking for in a totally other part of the county, where we may know they frequent the casino, they have worked hand in hand with us, sharing intelligence.  None of the law-enforcement agencies can do it alone anymore and having a positive relationship is crucial to public safety." 

Oneida nation officers have also helped with homeland security border programs, a sex abuse task force and intelligence sharing. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.