Law | Opinion

Editorial: Bureau of Indian Affairs moves slowly on public safety

A Bureau of Indian Affairs school resource officer speaks to students on the Crow Reservation in Montana. Photo from BIA Office of Justice Services / Facebook

It can take the Bureau of Indian Affairs up to a year to fill a police officer position. In the wake of the tragic death of RoyLynn Rides Horse, a member of the Crow Tribe who was brutally beaten and burned on her reservation, a Montana newspaper calls Congress to help address the roadblocks:
How can any law enforcement agency — any agency or business, for that matter — function if it requires a year to background check each job candidate that they want to hire?

By contrast, consider the Billings Police Department, which presently is hiring to fill 10 patrol vacancies, including five new positions approved for the fiscal year starting today. Up to 10 candidates with high scores on the department’s battery of tests will then undergo thorough background checks conducted by the department’s trained background investigators.

On average, it takes a full week for two BPD investigators to check out one candidate, including a visit to the candidate’s hometown, checks of criminal, driving and credit records and more.

A federal agency such as the BIA may have a different process. But it shouldn’t take up to a year. Is there a shortage of BIA investigators or a backlog of investigations? Is there a lack of private contractors or a lack of funds to hire contractors?

We don’t know. But since Montana’s congressional delegation has united to raise awareness of violence against Native American women, we call on them to raise the issue of inexplicably long background checks.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Why BIA can’t hire enough cops in Montana (The Billings Gazette 7/1)

Another Opinion:
Editorial: Stop atrocities against Montana women (The Billings Gazette 6/30)

Also Today:
Allowing nontribal police to patrol Crow reservation among ideas to help increase public safety (The Billings Gazette 6/28)

Related Stories:
Effort builds for missing and murdered Native women and girls (6/29)
Woman from Crow Tribe dies after brutal attack on reservation (6/29)
Two charged for beating and setting woman from Crow Tribe on fire (6/23)
Crow Tribe demands justice after woman was found badly burned (6/13)