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
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
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:
Tribal Tribune: Unity at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's #NoDAPL camp (8/26)
Dakota Access Pipeline lacks key approval to build by reservation (8/26)
Lummi Nation sends totem pole to sacred camp in North Dakota (8/26)
Winona LaDuke: Corporate interests come to destroy our mother (8/26)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Pipeline campaign awakens our people (8/26)
Ho-Chunk citizen Sharice Davids named as a White House Fellow (8/26)
Leech Lake Band celebrates groundbreaking for new high school (8/26)
Mark Trahant: Native candidates face voters in Arizona primary (8/26)
Native Sun News: Mother charged in beating death of 2-year-old (8/26)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala veteran pushed for Black Elk Peak (8/26)
Jeffrey Whalen: Oglala Sioux Tribe continues to get nothing done (8/26)
Leon Matthews: Off The Rez Ramblings heads back to Pine Ridge (8/26)
Erica Pinto: Jamul Indian Village planning to debut casino 'soon' (8/26)
Harold Monteau: Tribal lending industry facing major challenges (8/26)
Winnebago Tribe becomes first with non-smoking room at casino (8/26)
Tlingit and Haida Tribes win federal approval of gaming ordinance (8/26)
Poarch Creeks won't see Class III gaming after lottery effort fails (8/26)
Dave Archambault: Why the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is fighting (8/25)
Sen. Bernie Sanders joining opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline (8/25)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chair dispels rumors about camp site (8/25)
Native Sun News: Thousands join pipeline resistance movement (8/25)
Lakota Country Times: Bill honors memory of Cheyenne woman (8/25)
John Yellow Bird Steele: A giant step forward with Black Elk Peak (8/25)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: There's more than one path to reconciliation (8/25)
Spokane Tribe hit hard as blaze destroys homes on reservation (8/25)
Hopi Tribe struggling to address high levels of arsenic in water (8/25)
Osage Nation celebrates $74M purchase of ancestral territory (8/25)
Former Navajo Nation lawmakers sentenced over fund misuse (8/25)
Ute Tribe remains busy in court with appeal in contract dispute (8/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hails bid to reconsider casino ruling (8/25)
Twenty-Nine Palms Band considers expansion project at casino (8/25)
Grand Traverse Band shares gaming funds with local community (8/25)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees strong support at pipeline hearing (8/24)
Judge takes aim at Ute Tribe after being kicked off sovereignty suit (8/24)
Lakota Country Times: County seeks compensation for trust lands (8/24)
Native Sun News: Sage remains a special plant for Native peoples (8/24)
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.