Accountability Looking at law enforcement alone

Looking at law enforcement alone, then, deputization agreements ought to have
an impact on the accountability of state/county policing on reservations. They allow for
tribally employed police officers to patrol reservations and enforce state criminal laws,
which, according to our data, should lead to greater availability of law enforcement
according with tribal priorities, more thorough investigations, and more culturally
sensitive and respectful law enforcement (see Chapters 6 and 11). Furthermore, deputized
tribal officers have clear authority to arrest non-Indians on reservations, a power that
allows tribes to prioritize enforcing the law against such individuals. However, the
accountability gains are limited by several factors.

 First, only state certified police
officers can be deputized, which may make it difficult for some tribal officers who are
tribal members to qualify, even though they have passed through federal law enforcement
training. Second, the tribal officers are still enforcing state law, which means that
community members who mistrust the state system may not cooperate in reporting crimes
and participating in investigations. Third, the agreements establish liability standards that
effectively require tribal officers acting as deputies to operate according to state
standards. To that extent, they are precluded from following the directives of the tribal
communities themselves. 

Deputization agreements could conceivably have an impact on the accountability
of state/county police in PL 280 jurisdictions if terms of the agreements obligated county
law enforcement to learn more about tribal communities and be more responsive to their
concerns. However, deputization agreements rarely include provisions mandating
cultural-awareness training or similar education for county police. They also do not
include provisions for tribal involvement in police hiring or the review of complaints
against individual officers.
With respect to accountability, police services agreements take a different
approach. They do not empower tribal police to enforce state law, but rather turn the
county police who enforce that law into a tribally hired force. Because the tribe is paying
for the service, it’s much more common to find provisions in such agreements allowing
the tribe a role in hiring of officers and responding to complaints.

 Likewise, specific
cultural training is often required of county deputies assigned to the reservation.
However, the officers are still part of the county system, certified and promoted
according to its standards rather than to tribal conceptions of proper policing. Lingering
mistrust of county sheriff’s departments may impede the effectiveness of the officers
This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
assigned to the reservation. Furthermore, as with deputization agreements, the fact that
the officers are enforcing state law may hinder crime reporting and investigations.
Finally, the fact that the tribe is not maintaining its own police force may diminish its
symbolic sovereignty, which can adversely affect its control over policing and other
aspects of tribal governance.

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