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Training program equips communities in their fight against meth

WASHINGTON - Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Orientated Policing, Lamar Associates will start out the new year with its anti-methamphetamine training and technical assistance program.

Six training seminars are planned this year for each geographic location throughout the United States, with the first training scheduled at the Courtyard by Marriott in Albuquerque, N.M., Feb. 28 - 29. In the coming months, Lamar will hold several four-hour online training programs.

Meanwhile, within the company;s Web site lies a wealth of tools and information, such as a calendar, resource library, networking contacts and registration for upcoming trainings. The site is designed to be interactive, a place where tribal leaders and others who have gone through the training can maintain and form new alliances, and stay motivated about cleaning up the meth in their communities.

Walter Lamar, president and CEO, said a large portion of the training is designed to train reservation law enforcement, professionals and community members on how to work as a cohesive unit through first building trust by opening lines of communication.

Lamar, Blackfeet, stressed that there are Native communities where the police may not know how to go form alliances with their community, let alone how to take down drug dealers and meth labs. This separateness sometimes creates mistrust of tribal police, even when the police are tribal members.

Public mistrust, he said, also occurs when police become overwhelmed with crime issues and become reactive instead of proactive. ''We are going to dedicate a whole day on how to form realistic coalitions,'' he said.

But before any law enforcement agency and community members can implement the training, Lamar said that they have to first learn how to recognize ''the problem'' on their reservation.

He said that a great deal of tribal members can name the top five drug dealers in their community, but are afraid to report them to the police due largely to the breakdown in communication and fear of reprisal.

''The problem is that the community doesn't have the necessary tools to go after these people so there is not the top five drug dealers on the reservation,'' he said. ''We want to concentrate on skills and resource building for tribal communities.''

Part of the skill-building training consists of educating attendees on what to look for when trying to identify the location of meth labs and the vehicles that transport drugs onto reservation.

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From Lamar's research, he determined that most of the meth is being transported from outside the reservations. Learning how to cut off the supply chain could result in drastic reduction in usage and crime, especially in isolated areas.

''It's all about coming together to attack a problem,'' he said. ''We are stronger together than individually.''

Lamar has more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement. He is one of only two agents that received the FBI's Shield of Bravery - twice. He was bestowed the honor for his life-saving measures during the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and for extraordinary acts of heroism when he was engaged in a gun battle with an armed felon.

Steven Juneau, vice president of Lamar Associates, said that the curriculum evolved from both Juneau's and Lamar's involvement in Indian country during their careers, and ongoing research on the meth problem in Indian country.

''We brought together a pretty strong curriculum and we wanted to make it well-rounded,'' he said.

Juneau is a member of the Tlingit and Haida tribes of Alaska, and has worked for more than 20 years in the field of law enforcement and training officers in defensive tactics, physical fitness, firearms, gang prevention and numerous other areas. Like Lamar, he has received accolades for his work, and has served on high-ranking committees.

The duo has also sought the knowledge of other professionals in the field who will share their expertise at the training.

Another part of the training will focus on police jurisdiction issues in Indian country. Joe Rosen will lead the seminar on this subject. He said that tribal police need to know whom they can arrest, as some crimes call for state, local or federal law enforcement to come and set up stings and arrest drug dealers.

He also said that there are numerous tribal courts that have been unsuccessful at prosecuting drug dealers and abusers, but have succeeded in prosecuting them through civil justice cases. ''With drug addiction, you tend to get a lot of issues with domestic violence and this allows for civil jurisdiction,'' he said.

Rosen has spent the past 30 years in law enforcement. He is currently an adjunct professor at the John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, and has worked for the BIA as a legal instructor for the past six years.

For more information on the anti-methamphetamine training, call (202) 543-8181 or visit www.lamarassociates.net/index2.html.