Criminal jurisdiction on the Sagniaw Chippewa reservation

On first glance, this news report states that non-Indian criminal jurisdiction might be increased on this reservation?

A proposed settlement of a lawsuit between the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, the city of Mt. Pleasant, Isabella County and the state of Michigan will give local police officers the authority to enforce federal law in Indian Country.

Historically, Tribal Police have gotten their police powers over non-Indians by being deputized by Isabella County, but the only time in recent years sheriff’s deputies, city police and state police have been granted authority to police Native Americans was during an emergency situation in the 1990s, in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs authorized the move, according to Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski.

The settlement, if approved, will benefit local police by giving them a more clear definition of police jurisdiction, the sheriff said.

Currently, if a deputy, state trooper or city officer arrests a Native American, the case must be turned over to Tribal Police.

Under the proposed settlement, local law enforcement will be authorized to arrest Native Americans but must notify Tribal police or dispatch after the arrest, Mioduszewski said.

Currently, city, county and state police officers are subject to liability if they arrest a Native American on Isabella Reservation because they don’t have the power to make such an arrest, the sheriff said.

Mt. Pleasant Public Safety Director Tony Gomez said law enforcement agencies in Isabella County have a history of cooperation and that the settlement, if approved, will formalize what police already practice.

“This agreement will formalize many of our successful practices,” he said. “The cross appointment of officers will close the loopholes of jurisdictional authority and ensure prosecution in the appropriate venue.”

Gomez was referring to Native Americans being charged with crimes going to either Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Court or federal court, depending on the crime.

Non-natives, whether arrested by Tribal or other county police agencies, are charged in state court.

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