SCINT bust

North Bend Police Chief Robert Kappelman, second from left, looks on at three individuals arrested in a SCINT-led drug seizure in 2017.

COOS COUNTY— The Coquille Tribal Police announced it’s committing a full-time officer Monday to join the South Coast Interagency Narcotics Team (SCINT) in its attempt to assist with the understaffed, underfunded drug taskforce program.

According to a press release by the Coquille Tribe, the department, which consists of four officers, recognizes the importance of an operating SCINT program and is hoping its renewed commitment would challenge other agencies to do the same.

“This is a sacrifice for us,” said Tribal Chairwoman Brenda Meade in a press release. “It demonstrates just how important we think this work is. If we can commit one-fourth of our department, I think the bigger departments ought to be able to pitch in as well.”

In December, Coos County Commissioners issued a press release detailing SCINT’s possible disbandment as a result of continued staffing issues and lack of funding.

In a previous interview with The World, Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni, a former director of SCINT, explained its funding issues stem from certain federal and state grants, which have historically been used for SCINT, being redirected to other programs.

Last year, the SCINT team included two officers and an office manager. Since its inception in 1987, its team members have varied greatly from featuring one member to up to 15 law enforcement officials from agencies around the county.

The Coquille Tribal Police works primarily to patrol tribal lands, but also offers its assistance to surrounding law enforcement agencies. In 2018, tribal officers responded 235 times to assist other agencies and routinely deploys its drug-sniffing K-9 units when needed, according to the press release.

In addition to offering its services, its police station at Kilkich also serves as a substation for the Coos County Sheriff’s Office for deputies to use freely for clerical work and filing reports.

Helping the broader community is part of “potlatch,” a sharing tradition long practiced by coastal Indians, Meade said.

“We’re making this contribution not only to improve the safety of our own people, but to help the whole community,” she said.

A decision of whether to dissolve the SCINT program or not has not yet been made. Currently, law enforcement agencies around the county are consulting with their respective city councils on possible funding for the program and will meet again Feb. 27. The tribe’s commitment is open-ended.

“We hope our decision inspires some other agencies to rebuild SCINT,” Meade said. “The community needs it.”

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.