Yurok Tribe swears in new Public Safety Department Chief

In 2017 Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James and Greg O’Rourke, the new Yurok Public Safety Chief, did interviews for CNN’s Freedom Project. The Yurok Tribe is truly excited about the new Public Safety Chief, Greg O’Rourke. Mr. O’Rourke is a Yurok citizen, a ceremonial practitioner and a longtime member of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. As Public Safety Chief, he will blend the Tribe’s traditional principles of justice with a progressive-minded, community policing approach.(Photo: Yurok Tribe)

Greg O’Rourke, a Yurok citizen, culture bearer has strong ties to the community

News Release

Yurok Tribe

The Yurok Tribe is excited to announce that Greg O’Rourke will be sworn in as the new Chief of the Yurok Public Safety Department on Friday at 10am in the Tribal Council Chambers.

Mr. O’Rourke, a Yurok citizen with deep ties to the community, is coming back to the Tribe after serving for many years with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

“I am looking forward to working for my people and the betterment of the Yurok community,” Mr. O’Rourke said. “In a way, this is my homecoming.”

“We are very pleased to see Mr. O’Rourke in this new role. His extremely high professional standards, coupled with his strong connection to the community, make him the ideal individual for the position,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe.

Mr. O’Rourke’s law enforcement career began in 2000 as the Yurok Public Safety Department’s first officer recruit. In 2006, he accepted a position with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, where over 12 years he acquired a broad set of relevant skills with the intention of one day bringing the knowledge back to the reservation.

“From the start, this is where I always wanted to be,” Mr. O’Rourke said.

At the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. O’Rourke served as a field training officer, defensive tactic instructor and patrolman, as well as in many other demanding roles. The former corporal also has excellent working relationships with the Humboldt and Del Norte County Sheriffs, both of which often collaborate with the Yurok Public Safety Department.

In addition to his lengthy list of law enforcement credentials, the new Public Safety Chief hails from a ceremonial family. He is well-versed in the Tribe’s cultural values and traditional principles of justice.

“I believe that law enforcement is a collaborative partnership with and a reflection of its community,” said Mr. O’Rourke, a descendant of the villages of Morek, Notchko and Kepel. “One of the benefits that I can bring to the table is a balance between police culture and our traditional culture.”

Even though he officially starts work on March 1, Mr. O’Rourke has already hit the ground running. On the same day as the Public Safety Chief’s installation, Jacob Morris will be sworn in to the position of lieutenant. Mr. Morris has more than a decade’s worth of law enforcement experience. Before taking the job with Public Safety, he worked for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, mainly at its Garberville Outstation.

“Mr. Morris puts a premium on community policing and public service,” Mr. O’Rourke said. “He decided to take the job with Public Safety because he wanted to participate in the expansion of the professional and progressive tribal law enforcement agency.”

Mr. O’Rourke is also recruiting individuals to send to the law enforcement academy.

“I would love to see more Yurok Tribal citizens enter the academy. I encourage those interested to please give our office a call,” said Mr. O’Rourke.

For residents looking to learn more about the Public Safety Department’s goals for the future, Mr. O’Rourke will have an open-door policy. He will be stationed at the department’s new headquarters in Klamath.

“One of my main objectives is to inform our community about what they can expect procedurally from law enforcement. I am a firm believer in transparency,” concluded Mr. O’Rourke.

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