Sec. of Interior Ryan Zinke Honors Four Indian Country Officers

He gave them each his Commendation Award

FARGO, N.D. — The opioid crisis does not discriminate,  effecting people from all different backgrounds across the country.

That includes Indian Country.

Four police officers are being recognized for their heroic efforts against the drug epidemic by Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke.

KVRR’s Danielle Church has the story.

Turtle Mountain police officer Stacey Larocque has only had to give someone Narcan once.

But it was enough to leave him speechless.

“The victim was totally unresponsive, basically deceased. And to see him come back alive, where he was totally aware where he was at, and able to answer everything before the ambulance arrived was kind of shocking,” Larocque said.

Larocque is one of four Bureau of Indian Affairs officers who are being recognized by Sec. of Interior Ryan Zinke, for saving the lives of individuals who overdosed on opioids.

Zinke pinned his Commendation Award on Larocque, Turtle Mountain officer Michael Slater and Standing Rock officers Gary Sandland and Wayland Bad Hand.

“Don’t get a lot of appreciation for some of the stuff that we do by our own community but it’s nice to have the director come and give us an award,” Bad Hand said.

One Sec. Zinke says only shows a symptom of the virus that is the opioid crisis.

“No nation is harder hit than Indian Country. The number of overdoses are higher in Indian Country. Some of our tribes that I’m most familiar with are in a freefall, where it has really affected the fabric of the tradition in the tribe itself,” Zinke said.

Sec. Zinke says President Donald Trump is working with him to put an end to the crisis by bringing the more than 4,000 Interior, Bureau of Land Management, park service and BIA officers to create opioid task forces.

“We work together and look at the drug dealers. A lot of times, the dealers are not from the reservation. They’re praying on the reservation,” Zinke said.

That’s unless these officers can put an end to the drug epidemic.

Which is why the community also came out to thank these four men for doing their jobs.

According to the CDC, from 1999 to 2015, there were roughly 22 Native American deaths from opioids for every one hundred thousand people in urban areas.

There were about 20 Native American deaths from opioids for every one hundred thousand people in rural areas.

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