indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
John Thune: Public safety in Indian Country
Monday, October 12, 2009
Filed Under: Opinion

The following is the opinion of Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota).

As people across South Dakota celebrate Native American Day, we reflect on the important contributions of Native Americans to our state's history and culture. The richness of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota traditions are a significant part of what makes South Dakota such a special place. I believe that to truly honor this legacy, federal, state, and tribal leaders must continue working together to find solutions for the challenges facing many tribal communities today.

One of the biggest challenges facing South Dakota's tribes is the lack of public safety that exists in many communities. In most cases, a lack of resources prevents communities from retaining the number of law enforcement personnel necessary to provide basic public safety services. Fortunately, there are mechanisms that Congress can use to address the lack of funding in critical tribal law enforcement areas.

Last year I included an amendment in a foreign assistance bill that created the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health. This fund is authorized to spend $2 billion on public safety, health, and water projects in Indian country between 2009 and 2013. However, Congress must pass legislation appropriating money into the fund. This year's Interior Appropriations bill did include increased funding for public safety programs and public safety infrastructure development in Indian Country, but I believe that South Dakota's tribal communities would be better served if this money was put into the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health so it could more directly address areas with the most pressing law enforcement shortages.

While the shortage of resources is a significant challenge facing tribal law enforcement, a lack of personnel is also detrimental to public safety. It is unreasonable to expect that very few officers will be able to adequately police reservations that are larger than some states. One reason for this shortage is that the maximum hiring age for federal law enforcement officers is 38 years. The minimum retirement age with full benefits for military personnel is 37 years. This means that the BIA and other federal law enforcement agencies cannot hire retired military personnel as officers.

There are many Native American retired military veterans who would be well qualified to serve as BIA law enforcement officers. The Defense Authorization bill passed earlier this year by the Senate included an amendment that would allow the BIA to hire retired military personnel as law enforcement officers, and I sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urging him to develop a plan for implementing this provision as soon as it became law. Unfortunately, the provision was removed from the final Defense Authorization bill. Nevertheless, I am committed to making this simple policy change a reality and have included a similar provision in the Tribal Law and Order Act which was introduced in the Senate earlier this year.

Native American Day is an opportunity for all South Dakotans to reflect on the importance of tribal history and culture to our state. While reflection and celebration is important, real action is also necessary to combat the serious challenges facing our tribal communities today. I will continue working with tribal leaders to ensure that their views are well represented in the U. S. Senate. All Americans deserve safe, healthy, and prosperous communities, and we can work together to make it a reality for all South Dakotans.

Related Stories:
John Thune: Tribal dialogue in South Dakota (08/10)
John Thune: Make Indian health and safety a priority (5/25)
John Thune: Obama fails to address tribal needs (5/11)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Harvest the Hope concert unites Keystone foes (10/2)
Mark Trahant: A lot stake for Native voters in Montana this year (10/2)
BIA extends comment period for changes to rights-of-way rule (10/2)
Navajo Nation won't delay election despite presidential dispute (10/2)
Column: Joba Chamberlain shares his life story through tattoos (10/2)
Washington city could turn Columbus Day into Coast Salish Day (10/2)
Cherokee Nation chief apologizes for attending live pigeon shoot (10/1)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Telling the indigenous story with public art (10/1)
DOI puts another $1M from lands sales into Cobell scholarships (10/1)
9th Circuit bars use of tribal conviction in domestic assault case (10/1)
2nd Circuit rebuffs tribal online lenders in dispute with New York (10/1)
Crystal Willcuts: A tribute to my mother who was lost to cancer (10/1)
Seneca Nation man launches campaign for mayor of Salamanca (10/1)
BIA ends comment period on reform to federal recognition rule (10/1)
African-American lawmakers accuse Pamunkey Tribe of racism (10/1)
Officials claim Oklahoma owed $30M in Impact Aid for schools (10/1)
FCC will consider petition to outlaw R-word on public airwaves (10/1)
BLM struggles to manage wild horse population as herds grow (10/1)
Opinion: North Fork Rancheria casino brings boost to economy (10/1)
Report places economic impact of US gaming industry at $240B (10/1)
Shinnecock Nation gaming partner cut $250K monthly payment (10/1)
Column: Seminole Tribe poised for continued growth in gaming (10/1)
Native Sun News: Agency weighs uranium mine near sacred site (9/30)
Jim Abourezk: South Dakota tribes can put Rick Weiland in office (9/30)
Cherokee chief participated in live pigeon shoot for Sen. Inhofe (9/30)
Navajo vice president returns home after near fatal spider bite (9/30)
North Dakota tribe sees big problems as energy industry grows (9/30)
Andre Cramblit: Another year brings challenges for our people (9/30)
Jack Duran: State's 'shocking' attack on Big Lagoon Rancheria (9/30)
Navajo Nation Council to select a new leader after resignation (9/30)
Editorial: Long delayed trust fund settlement for Navajo Nation (9/30)
Keepseagle plaintiffs oppose use of $380M to create foundation (9/30)
Opinion: Working with New Mexico tribes to protect sacred sites (9/30)
Pueblo man chosen as chair of VA minority advisory committee (9/30)
Woman sues over fall at Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe business (9/30)
Seminole Tribe makes another attempt to join banking business (9/30)
Mohegan Tribe purchases more wood pellet production facilities (9/30)
Ponca Tribe takes down old headquarters and readies new home (9/30)
Native Mob gang leader sentenced to 43 years in federal prison (9/30)
Three indicted for murder of man from Northern Arapaho Tribe (9/30)
Rivals funded DC trips to oppose Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/30)
American Gaming Association includes tribes in economic report (9/30)
Editorial: Vote yes to support North Fork Rancheria gaming deal (9/30)
Editorial: Florida shouldn't take a gamble with casino expansion (9/30)
Tim Giago: All Indian people ask is for America to honor treaties (9/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes take on IRS and win battle over taxation (9/29)
Mark Trahant: Indian vote could bring a surprise in South Dakota (9/29)
Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act signed into law by Obama (9/29)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.