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More tribal police earn federal enforcement authority in Indian country

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PHOENIX – More than 30 tribal police officers completed a 3-day training course last week led by federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix. More than 90 percent passed the BIA exam and will receive a special law enforcement certificate granting them federal law enforcement authority in Indian country.

The training was the sixth time the BIA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona have teamed up to give the training, with approximately 250 tribal and state police officers certified through the program. Officers participating in the recent program include those from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Gila River Community, Hualapai Nation, Colorado River Indian Tribes and Yavapai-Apache Tribe in Arizona; officers from California include the Robinson Rancheria Tribal Police Department, the Sycuan Police Department, the Goshute Police Department and the Rincon Police Department. Officers from the Las Vegas Paiute Tribal Police Department also participated.

The Special Law Enforcement Certificate empowers tribal police to make arrests on federal charges in Indian country, including misdemeanor and felony violations of federal law. This increases the tools and protection available to officers to address areas as common as fire and dumping misdemeanor violations, to investigations and arrests for felonies such as drug trafficking, child sex abuse and murder. Additionally, assaults on these officers are prosecuted in federal court as misdemeanors.

The course includes intensive segments on Indian country jurisdiction, Indian country crimes (the Major Crimes Act), federal court procedure, civil liability, child abuse and child abuse reporting, Central Violations Bureau, juvenile process and procedure, drug and firearm laws and investigation of gang activity, among other areas.