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Rice becomes 1st tribal police chief on POST Board

Sara Rice

MILLE LACS RESERVATION—Gov. Mark Dayton this week appointed Mille Lacs Band Police Chief Sara Rice to the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST Board.

An enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Rice is the first tribal police chief to serve on the POST Board.

Rice joined the Mille Lacs Band Police Department in 2001, serving as a police officer and conservation officer prior to being named interim police chief in 2016. Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin announced Rice's permanent appointment as chief of police on Tuesday.

"Sara Rice has been an outstanding leader of our police force during a time of great stress and uncertainty," Benjamin stated, referring to Mille Lacs County revoking its cooperative law enforcement agreement with the band in 2016 and the escalating opioid crisis that has followed, according to a news release. "She has the full support and confidence of the officers she leads."

Rice has been actively involved in the band's negotiations with Mille Lacs County over a new law enforcement agreement, in successfully strengthening the band's law enforcement agreement with Pine County and in securing federal and state law enforcement support on the Mille Lacs Reservation.

"I would like to thank Gov. Mark Dayton for appointing me to the Minnesota POST Board," Rice stated in the release. "It's an honor to have the opportunity to serve the law enforcement community in this capacity."

POST is responsible for licensing more than 10,500 active peace officers and more than 250 active part-time peace officers. The POST Board has the legislative authority to adopt administrative rules with force and effect of law, rules enabling the board to establish policies and standards to which all licensees must adhere.

Rice has lived her entire life on the Mille Lacs Reservation. She attended Onamia High School, received her law enforcement degree from Central Lakes College, and earned a bachelor's degree in organizational behavior from the College of St. Scholastica.

She leads a full-time police department of 23 full-time, POST-certified officers dating back to 1984. The Mille Lacs Band Police Department has law enforcement authority under federal, state and tribal law.