By Lisa Pemberton, Puyallup Tribal News Editor
After 42 years of working for the Puyallup Tribe, Rory Laducer, director of Public Safety and Emergency Management, is set to retire on Jan. 29.
He began working for the Tribe in January 1979 as a Puyallup Tribal Police officer.
“I’ve seen a lot of things happen over the 42 years,” Laducer said with a chuckle.
Among the highlights: Achieving commissions for Tribal Police officers with the Tacoma Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. Back then, it was unusual for Tribal Police to obtain dual commission, which enabled Tribal Police to conduct criminal law enforcement within the Tribe’s jurisdiction, for Native Americans and non-Natives alike.
Laducer said Tribal Police Chief Dan Ferro was a huge advocate for officer training.
“He was a big inspiration to me – he wanted the officers to make sure they had the same amount of training as officers anywhere, whether they were state, federal or city,” Laducer said. “Back in the day, a lot of training opportunities weren’t open to Tribal Police, like they were for other police departments.”
Many of the people who are in leadership positions around the tribe were just kids when he was a police officer. Laducer, who is Turtle Mountain Chippewa, jokes he’s worked at the tribe since B.C., or “before casinos.” He’s watched the tribe grow and change over the years.
He even played a role in the eviction of the state from the Cascadia juvenile detention center, the former Cushman school. The title of the property reverted to the tribe in 1980.
“I was part of law enforcement who took direction from the council when they took physical control of the building and the properties,” he recalled, noting that Chairman Bill Sterud was on Tribal Council at the time and played a key role in the effort. “Our council and legal did a great job.”
Later, Laducer represented Tribal Police in negotiations with the Gaming Commission, which led to the 1996 opening of the Emerald Queen Casino riverboat.
He established the Tribe’s Emergency Management department in 2013. In his current role, Laducer has worked closely with county, state and federal emergency management teams. That includes pre-mitigation, mitigation planning and disaster recovery efforts.
“We work with other surrounding emergency management offices like the state and county when emergency happens,” he said. “Usually when it’s a disaster, it affects multiple jurisdictions. It doesn’t just stop at tribal or county borders.”
During the past year, his department has played a major role in pandemic response, including coordinating with programs and distributing personal protective equipment for workers, working with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department and the county’s Emergency Operations Center, and working with security managers in implementing safety protocols for employees and visitors who want to enter tribal buildings.
Laducer says he’ll miss the “day to day” work and seeing everyone. But he won’t be far, he plans to stay active in the tribal community.
“I’ve made a lot of good friends, and it was great working for the Tribal Council and membership and with the employees,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of great things happen with the Puyallup Tribe, and I look forward to seeing a lot more.”