New top cop, chief judge named on Pine Ridge

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PINE RIDGE, S.D. (KOTA TV) - The surge in meth-fueled crime that haunts KOTA Territory has been compounded on the Pine Ridge reservation by turmoil in tribal law enforcement. But today there is bright news on that front.

The reservation has been without a full-time police chief for more than six months and that has hurt morale on an understaffed force. But the tribal council has named a new top cop: Grace Her Many Horses. She now serves as police chief on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota and is slated to report to Pine Ridge on November 20th. Tribal leaders say they are pleased with the choice.

"(Her Many Horses) is the type of person that's a go-getter," said the Oglala Sioux Tribe's Vice President Darla Black. "I think she'll be the person to find funding for us. The person to come in get our police department straightened out."

The council has also moved to shore up the ranks of tribal judges. For the first time in more than a year all five judge positions are filled and the courts now have a new chief judge, attorney Charles Abourezk of Rapid City. Abourezk has been serving as a special judge handling backlogged cases and has support as the new top judge.

"(Abourezk) has a background for many years here in Rapid City and on our reservation and I think it's going to be a powerful move on correcting some of our court situations that we currently have," said tribal council member C.J. Clifford.

More problems remain in the tribal judicial system, however. The tribe does not have an Attorney general and is currently seeking applications for the post.