Tribal Police Could Gain Non-Indian Arrest Powers

A bill introduced in the state legislature last week could give tribal police officers arresting powers over non-Indian citizens on reservations, according to an article in the Jan. 19 Tacoma News Tribune.

Rob Carson’s article points out that the bill has its share of controversy — the Washington State Sheriffs Association “strenuously” opposes it on the grounds that tribal officers wouldn’t be beholden to local elected officials.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, however, supports it, stating that for too long non-Indian residents on reservations have used them as a kind of safe haven from law enforcement scrutiny.

Where do you fall on this debate?

Here’s more background from Carson:

Under the terms of the bill, tribal governments that choose to participate would be required to carry liability insurance and agree not to use their sovereign immunity as a defense against lawsuits resulting from claims against their officers.

The new designation would be available only to tribal officers who complete the training and certification required of other law enforcement officers in the state.

Giving tribal officers such authority would be rare, but not unique, among states. Arizona, Oklahoma and Kansas have passed similar laws.

2 thoughts on “Tribal Police Could Gain Non-Indian Arrest Powers

  1. Its about time. I have lived on the Port Madison Indian Reservation all my life and Im tired of seeing our Tribal Officers hands tied.

    Lets hope this brings a stronger relationship between all jurisdictions to keep us all safe.

  2. Good move.

    Visitors to every country (including U.S. reservations) should be subject to the laws of the country they visit.
    Sharon O’Hara

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