Passage of Tribal Law and Order Act Receives Praise from NCAI

Published on Jul 27, 2010

 “This historic legislation is an opportunity for tribes and the federal government to work together to make our communities safer,” says NCAI President Jefferson Keel

July 21, 2010 - Washington, DC – President Jefferson Keel of the National Congress of American Indians released a statement praising today’s passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act by the House of Representatives as historic.  The Act now heads to President Obama for his signature.

"This new law will set a standard of tough law enforcement in Indian Country. The primary function of all governments is to provide safety and security for their people, and tribal governments will use this law to elevate public safety in our communities,” said Keel, the President of NCAI, the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native Organization in the country.

“In a time when crime rates across the country have been going down, crime on Indian reservations has remained two to three times above the national average. This historic legislation is an opportunity for tribes and the federal government to work together to make our communities safer, and it supports the sovereignty of tribes to investigate and prosecute serious crimes on our lands,” stated Keel, who also serves as Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation.  “We commend the members of Congress responsible for enacting this important legislation.”

With an overwhelming majority in the House and unanimous consent in the Senate, the Act will have wide reaching effects for law enforcement in Indian Country. In addition to enhancements for evidence and data sharing, the Act notably recognizes greater tribal court authority, including increasing maximum sentences from 1 to 3 years for major crimes. Tribal courts, detention centers, at-risk youth programs, and treatment programs are also strengthened by the act through reauthorization of existing programs.

“Law enforcement on tribal lands has long been hamstrung by a lack of resources and by restrictions placed by the Federal Government. The Tribal Law and Order Act is a significant step forward for tribal police – officers who serve their communities honorably and deserve the full authority to protect Indian Country just like any other state, county, or city in the nation,” added Keel.

The Tribal Law and Order Act, introduced by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), expands the authority, access, and resources available to tribal police in a variety of ways: it allows for the deputization of tribal police to assist in drug raids and enforce federal laws on Indian lands; permits access to criminal history databases and records; and increases the efforts to recruit and retain tribal police.  The Act passed the Senate on June 23, 2010, as part of H.R. 725, The Indian Arts and Crafts Amendment Act of 2010, a bill that would allow federal law enforcement officials to investigate the production and sale of counterfeit American Indian arts and crafts. The House passed H.R. 725 today with the Tribal Law and Order Act attached


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