indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Cobell beneficiaries still waiting on payment (7/24)
Navajo Nation president to discuss brutal murders with mayor (7/24)
NCAI President Cladoosby offers cedar hat to BIA's Washburn (7/24)
Woman waiting in line at SCIA hearing reportedly had bedbugs (7/24)
S.E. Ruckman: Tribal members share frustrations on IHS care (7/24)
Mark Rogers: System exploits misery of our nation's veterans (7/24)
Fort Belknap Tribes depend on revenue from Internet lending (7/24)
Oglala Sioux Tribe still working on plan for legal alcohol sales (7/24)
Two Native girls charged with assault for hockey game brawl (7/24)
Chickasaw Nation welcomes public to new community center (7/24)
Oregon tribe plans major development at historic village site (7/24)
Unsettled Ch. 26: Passamaquoddy dealings cloaked in secrecy (7/24)
KCAW: BLM supports Alaska Native corporation in land dispute (7/24)
Mixed martial arts fighter from Lumbee Tribe proud of heritage (7/24)
Granddaughter of former team owner condemns racist mascot (7/24)
Opinion: Chief Black Hawk was notorious leader of Ute people (7/24)
Remote tribes facing threats from drug trafficking and logging (7/24)
BIA indicates Tohono O'odham Nation can use land for gaming (7/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo wants to take state out of casino operations (7/24)
Iipay Nation started planning Internet poker games last year (7/24)
Fighter seriously injured at Trinidad Rancheria's casino event (7/24)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe concerned about potential gaming site (7/24)
Native Sun News: Great Plains tribes call for full contract funds (7/23)
Native Sun News: Candidate wants Obama to meet with tribes (7/23)
Audio: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on gaming (7/23)
President Obama nominates Jonodev Chaudhuri to lead NIGC (7/23)
Class III compact for Swinomish Tribe lowers legal age to 18 (7/23)
Navajo Nation officials seek meeting in response to murders (7/23)
Larry Spotted Crow Mann: Thank Indian veterans for America (7/23)
Fond du Lac Band tries to uncover cause of foodborne illness (7/23)
Man in Alabama honors Yuchi ancestor with unique memorial (7/23)
Shivwits Band sees early success with gas station and store (7/23)
Seminole Tribe launches marketing campaign for juice brand (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe breaks ground on first of 15 chain restaurants (7/23)
Water bottling plant provides usage reports to Morongo Band (7/23)
WBUR: Tribes rebury one of their ancient relatives in Montana (7/23)
KPLU: Quileute Tribe welcomes man who was rescued in 2010 (7/23)
Unsettled: Free speech costs dearly at Passamaquoddy Tribe (7/23)
MSU News: Online Native studies courses open to registration (7/23)
Opinion: Connecticut tribe deserves a 2nd shot at recognition (7/23)
Ernie Stevens joins American Gaming Association Hall of Fame (7/23)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino vote to join labor union (7/23)
Sandia Pueblo undertakes first major casino expansion project (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe's poll points to preference for casino in Catskills (7/23)
Native Sun News: Lakota War Path team wins world relay title (7/22)
Raina Thiele: Native youth participate in My Brother's Keeper (7/22)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs looks into tribal gaming (7/22)
NIGC reports 'stable' growth in $28B tribal gaming industry (7/22)
Bail set at $5M for teens accused of murdering Navajo men (7/22)
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.