Tag Archives: tribe

Masi Shop access on 305 a work in progress

 

The in basket: Andrew McMillen said in an e-mail, “When the Masi Shop on Highway 305 in Suquamish added the new buildings, they  got an on/off merge lane in the southwest direction and an additional exit on the opposing side. 

“The speed limit is 55 mph and soon dropping to 50. However, in both directions traffic frequently has to slow to as low as 20 mph for exiting/entering traffic, sometimes abruptly. 

“Cars coming from the shop heading towards Poulsbo cause through traffic on the highway to slow drastically,” he said. “They don’t enter the merge lane and wait, they just merge all the way onto the highway, which is uphill at that point and slows them down.

“What traffic studies were done on the highway modifications, or will be?” he asked.

The out basket: I can’t answer that exact question, but the Suquamish tribe and the state are working to correct the shortcomings on that short stretch of highway.

It’s clear the highway alignment has been a work in progress. Andrew referred me to a Google Maps aerial of that spot, presumable taken last year. It showed two large arrows indicating a merge of traffic that has just turned left out of the shops to go toward Poulsbo and some left turn arrows for turns into the shops. 

Today. the two large arrows have been scrubbed off and the left turn lane is farther toward the center of the shopping complex. One of three egresses Google Maps showed is now closed and another enlarged.

“What they have done so far is not according to our procedures,” Art Sporseen of state highways told me, “but we are on board with them now and have an improved plan for future improvements.” 

Bob Gatz, tribal engineer, says the tentative plans have not gotten final approval, but he expects the revised alignment to provide a deceleration lane for traffic from Poulsbo turning right into the shops. That should eliminate one of Andrew’s concerns. 

That will widen the highway and allow for a longer acceleration lane toward Poulsbo, Bob said. At present there isn’t enough length to let entering cars get up to highway speed before merging, so it will interesting to see if the changes will fix that.

The center egress from the shops will remain closed and the one closest to Agate Passage will remain right-out-only, Bob said. Allowing left turns there would put cars into the left turn pocket, from which they could not proceed toward Poulsbo.

The tribe’s Port Madison Enterprises, which runs the Masi Shop, Clearwater Casino, Kiana Lodge and a number of other things is paying for the work, state and tribal officials said.

Incidentally, when I pronounced Masi like Masai, as in the African tribe, Russell Steele, head of Port Madison Enterprises corrected me and said it’s pronounced “mossy.” He didn’t know its meaning. 

The old store will soon be torn down, he said, but all the existing gas pumps will remain.

What can tribal officers do with non-Indian speeders?

 

The in basket: Kyle Neilsen asks “What type of jurisdiction does the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Police have over non-natives who are stopped for exceeding the speed limit? This hasn’t happened to me, but I have seen it often the past few weeks and was curious.”

While seeking information about Kyle’s concern, I asked about one tribe’s jurisdiction over members of another tribe, and whether Kitsap County cross-commissions tribal officers to give them all the powers of its own deputies.

The out basket: Karl Gilje, director of public safety for the S’Klallam tribe, tells me his officers (the tribe has six) will ticket non-Indians for traffic infractions on the reservation. “We have a responsibility to public safety” to make those stops, he said.

What happens then gets complicated. The ticket must be  handled as a civil infraction, rather than a criminal one, and is not reported to state licensing agencies as a ticket issued by a county, city or state officer would be. 

The tribe could send the fine to a collections agency if the cited driver ignores it, but the tribe hasn’t done that in the past, Karl says.

If the offense is bad enough, the tribe can write it up and submit it to the county prosecutor, asking that office to take it to county court. But anything less than drunken or reckless driving isn’t likely to get that attention and non-tribal officers probably would have gotten involved already. 

So while ducking a speeding fine may be doable for non-Indians and it won’t affect their driving record, speeding can get you pulled over and stopped on the shoulder for 15-20 minutes while the officer checks you for warrants and writes the ticket. That’s probably a significant punishment for those who feel a need to speed.

I also asked Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, and Chief Mike Lasnier of the Suquamish tribe about this. 

Scott relayed a lengthy decision he said was made by Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Jahns shortly before he was named district court judge this year, that drew from a state ruling covering tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians.

Jeff’s answer said “tribal officers may stop and detain anyone

driving on a public road within a reservation to investigate possible violations of tribal criminal and/or civil law.  Upon determining that the driver is non-tribal, the tribal officer may conduct sobriety tests  in a DUI context (if there is reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired) to determine whether to continue to detain the non-tribal driver for the county sheriff’s office or Washington State Patrol to respond.

“With regard to the Port Gamble – S’Klallam /

Port Madison – Suquamish  (reservations)” Scott said, “I believe that tribal law enforcement

officers of either agency have authority over any Native American registered tribal member who is within their jurisdiction. I base this

on my 10 years working the road primarily in North Kitsap and interacting with the two tribal agencies.”

But I’d better check with the tribes, he added.

The 2008 Legislature enacted RCW 10.92.020, which permits cross-commissioning of tribal officers, but requires that the tribe and local government, in this case Kitsap County and its sheriff’s department, sign what’s called an interlocal agreement extending that authority.

Scott said the new law is under consideration at the county level, and “as of this date, tribal officers in Kitsap County have not been authorized to act as general authority Washington peace officers.”

Chief Mike Lasnier said, “the Suquamish Tribal Police are seeking that authority. Our officers are already certified by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, and we are currently working with the State Office of Financial Management, and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department and Kitsap County Prosecutors Office, in order to ensure that use of state authority by Suquamish officers makes good public safety sense.  

As for members of other tribes, he said his department, “enforces public safety laws on the reservation on behalf of the safety of all residents.  Jurisdiction is a complex and evolving field in federal Indian law, and there are few black and white issues or answers.  Overall, Scott did a pretty good job of trying to sum it up.”

Karl Gilje says his officers are registered with the state training commission in anticipation of one day being cross-commissioned.