The Blackfeet Tribe has been working with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs since 2007 to resume operating law enforcement activities on its reservation. That is happening now.
The press reports that a February 2003, a BIA report exposed evidence of poorly trained law enforcement personnel, mismanaged budgets, bungled cases, and political interference.
The report prompted the BIA to takeover the reservation’s law enforcement assignment. But in the years since, the department has struggled to retain officers and the number on patrol has dropped as low as five.
The tribe expects to have 15 officers working the streets by the end of the month. The agency has a $2.9 million annual budget to hire as many as 25 officers to handle the roughly 24,500 calls for service that come in each year.
In November, the tribe hired Jess Edwards as the new police chief. Edwards, 28, is a Blackfeet tribal citizen who previously worked as a deputy in Glacier and Flathead counties in Montana.
As part of a contract to be signed today, the BIA will continue to review tribal law enforcement practices and budgets to make sure BIA requirements standards are met.