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;Operation Dakota Peacekeeper'

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Thune praises increased law enforcement presence on Standing Rock reservation

WASHINGTON - The commencement of ;'Operation Dakota Peacekeeper,'' a BIA project to increase the presence of law enforcement of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, received praise from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

''Reported incidents of violent crime on the Standing Rock Reservation are six times the national average,'' he said. ''The Bureau of Indian Affairs is taking a proactive course of action regarding violent crime on Standing Rock. The additional BIA law enforcement personnel and community policing practices implemented by 'Operation Dakota Peacekeeper' will help make reservation communities safer and give tribal leaders and members a stake in the safety of the reservation.''

Thune had previously requested that the BIA make increased tribal law enforcement resources a priority not only for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but for all nine tribes in South Dakota.

''Operation Dakota Peacekeeper'' will supplement the local police force with additional BIA personnel. Victim assistance services will also be made available.

In February, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Bill 1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which included Thune's amendment to require a Government Accountability Office study of the tribal justice systems of North and South Dakota. Also, in March, the Senate passed the fiscal year 2009 Budget Resolution, which included Thune's amendment to authorize additional funding for police and prosecutors to address the growing problem of crime on American Indian reservations.