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Ak-Chin under way on justice center

Posted By   /   December 14, 2012  /   No Comments

By Adam Gaub

Casa Grande Dispatch

Ak-Chin Justice Center renderings

The oft-mentioned phrase “the slow wheels of justice” may well apply to the years-long process the leaders of Ak-Chin Indian Community endured to bring a new justice facility to their people.

Sixteen years of planning, waiting and studying came to a head with a fulfilling groundbreaking on Wednesday morning, as the Ak-Chin Tribal Council and several key figures of the tribe’s justice system were on hand to celebrate the start of a new multipurpose justice center.

The building, which will include space for the tribe’s police department, detention staff and judicial staff — in addition to a courtroom and jail — shows how far the community has come in just a few short years.

“Our police force had diminished to just three … but the community pushed this forward,” said Tribal Council Chairman Louis Manuel Jr., speaking of the small size of the Ak-Chin Police Department just a few years ago. “When we took this project up again, everybody was pumped up … but even some of us on the council were wondering if we were ever going to get to the end of this road.”

The tribe began discussing plans for such a facility as far back as 1996 and had many false starts along the way. Thanks to a grant in 2008 from the U.S. Department of Justice and the work of a core committee that visited 15 different tribal nations to see how they had built similar facilities, this time around is different.

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