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Soboba Indians and Riverside County Sheriff reach agreement

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July 9, 2008

SAN JACINTO, CA - The Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians signed a five-page agreement Monday to improve communications and reduce tension on the reservation following recent gun battles between deputies and tribal members.

The agreement calls for:
• regular meetings between deputies and Soboba leaders
• cultural awareness training for deputies
• key tribal leaders will be informed of potential Sheriff investigations
• deputies will continue to enter the reservation for 911 calls and "hot pursuit" cases
• deputies will engage in little, if any, routine patrolling

Tensions have been building for years between the Soboba band and law enforcement. Officers report they have been shot at on the reservation. Other officers report recovering caches of weapons, stolen cars and drugs. Last May deputies engaged in two firefights with tribal members carrying assault rifles.

Eli Morillo, 26, died in one shootout. He was the son of former tribal chairwoman Rosemary Morillo. She had another son, Peter Morillo, 27, fatally shot by officers in 2002.

Two other tribal members were killed by deputies in May. Joseph Arres, 36, and Tamara Hurtado, 29, cousins of the tribal chairman.

Since then, the two sides have met weekly to resolve the tension. They were joined by a mediator from the U.S. Justice Department and officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The result is this deal for better communications and training to prevent future violence.

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