United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that David Lawrence has been named the 2013 Indian Country Officer of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Lawrence is Chief of Police with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Chief Lawrence has been working in Indian country for approximately 18 years, spending much of that time working complex cases involving murder, kidnapping, violent sexual assaults, and child abuse. Additionally, for several years, Chief Lawrence was the sole criminal investigator for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation during a time when there was a significant increase in teen suicides. He went to the tragic scenes and dealt with the evidence of the death, but also compassionately worked with the devastated family members.
The Standing Rock reservation covers both South and North Dakota, which necessitates that Lawrence work with the U.S. Attorney’s offices in both states on major crime cases.
“Along with U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon from the District of North Dakota, it was my privilege to nominate David Lawrence for the 2013 Indian Country Officer of the Year,” said Johnson. “I have the utmost respect for him, and the judgment and commitment he takes to work every day. As federal prosecutors, our offices rely on the investigative skills of our partner agencies to help ensure public safety and deliver justice. Chief Lawrence is top-notch in his field, and we’re fortunate to have him as a law enforcement partner on Standing Rock.”
In a recent case, Chief Lawrence courageously risked his life to try and save a disabled young adult from a residential house fire in McLaughlin, South Dakota. Chief Lawrence was in McLaughlin on other law enforcement duties, when he monitored a call for assistance at a house fire. He was one of the first responders on the scene, and learned there was a disabled male in the house, which was engulfed in flames and smoke. In a heroic attempt to save the young man, Chief Lawrence broke the window to the room where he was thought to be located. Although he could not locate the victim on the first attempt and had to retreat the house due to the smoke, Chief Lawrence made a second entry into the smoke-filled bedroom and removed the man from the burning residence. Sadly, the victim subsequently died from smoke inhalation.
In addition, Chief Lawrence has been an important teacher to new special agents and Assistant U.S. Attorneys, helping them to become culturally sensitive to the art of investigating major crimes in Indian country.
The Indian Country Officer of the Year Award provides international recognition of police officers that demonstrate exceptional valor in service to the people of Indian country. Chief Lawrence was recently bestowed the honor by Darren Cruzan, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, and Joseph LaPorte, Chairman of the IACP Indian Country Law Enforcement Section, during a banquet at the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe Resort in connection with the Indian Country Law Enforcement Section’s Mid-year Meeting.