indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
National campaign launched to stop tribal disenrollment epidemic (2/9)
Lakota Country Times: Indian health at center of Medicaid debate (2/9)
Mark Trahant: Native candidates fall behind in the big money wars (2/9)
Vi Waln: Arrogance keeps Keystone XL plans alive in South Dakota (2/9)
Charles Kader: Haudenosaunee territory will always be Indian land (2/9)
Mike Myers: Indigenous teachings still guide our ways of life today (2/9)
Albuquerque Indian Center faces closure without additional money (2/9)
Leader of Bois Forte Band promises fight against substance abuse (2/9)
Coushatta Tribe wins ruling in long-running dispute with contractor (2/9)
Pamunkey Tribe looks to a stronger future with federal recognition (2/9)
Isle de Jean Charles Band to relocate with help of $48M HUD grant (2/9)
Nambe Pueblo hopes small casino stands out in a crowded market (2/9)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe sends fewer gaming funds to communities (2/9)
Tribes in Connecticut still working on process for potential casino (2/9)
Girls basketball team proudly wears Navajo hairstyle during game (2/8)
National Indian Gaming Commission slated to get a third member (2/8)
Senate committee to host roundtable on Tribal Law and Order Act (2/8)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee postpones field hearing into EPA (2/8)
Senate designates National Tribal Colleges and Universities Week (2/8)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation invests in our people's wellbeing (2/8)
Kevin Washburn: Republicans punish tribe in public lands measure (2/8)
Harold Monteau: Democrats stack the deck for only one candidate (2/8)
Cutcha Risling Baldy: Don't let Leonard Peltier die in prison system (2/8)
Robert Jumper: Keep Eastern Cherokee council meetings on record (2/8)
Brian Pierson: Menominee Nation loses decision at Supreme Court (2/8)
Probe continues into unsolved homicide of 11-year-old Native girl (2/8)
Burns Paiute Tribe might seek to reopen judgment for stolen lands (2/8)
Shinnecock Nation approves plans to join medical marijuana field (2/8)
Teams protest corporate sponsor of Native basketball tournament (2/8)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe faces obstacles with repatriation of students (2/8)
Wallace Coffey resigns as chair of Comanche Nation after 25 years (2/8)
Broker accused of lying to tribal client about $190M in investments (2/8)
Seminole Tribe showcases long-lost declaration of independence (2/8)
Pope Francis to celebrate mass at Indian church for trip to Mexico (2/8)
California communities go without as casino revenue fund dries up (2/8)
Non-Indian firm looking to block Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (2/8)
Umatilla Tribes raise gambling age as sales of liquor start at casino (2/8)
Apology offered to girls who were forced to change Native hairstyle (2/5)
Mark Trahant: Bernie Sanders campaign starts Indian policy group (2/5)
Charles Trimble: Taking responsibility for upkeep of our cemeteries (2/5)
Mary Annette Pember: Memorial to Indian genocide eyed in Russia (2/5)
Terese Marie Mailhot: I guess I'm just one of those 'crazy' Indians (2/5)
Judge weighs compromise for $380M in leftover Keepseagle funds (2/5)
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.