Rosebud Tribe establishing new police commission

Rapid City, South Dakota (AP) 4-08

A seven-member police commission will be formed by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to develop procedures and polices for law enforcement on the reservation.

Had the commission been in place earlier, it might have averted the problems with tribal police who were carrying tribal law enforcement commission cards that had expired, according to Eric Antoine, in-house attorney for the tribe.

The expired commission cards resulted in nearly 300 criminal cases being dismissed in tribal court after defense attorneys argued that the officers conducting the investigations and arrests did not carry valid tribal police commissions or had allowed their tribal commissions to expire.

Antoine said the tribe formerly had a police commission, which apparently became defunct because it was unable to find qualified members.

The new tribal police commission ordinance requires the commission to meet regularly and requires members to attend a certain number of meetings or face replacement, Antoine said.

Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux said that when the problem with police commissions was discovered in January, officers whose commissions had expired or been found invalid were assigned administrative duties until their commissions were renewed.

Other police officers who had valid commissions continued patrol and other law enforcement duties, and the tribe was never without law enforcement, Bordeaux said.

Bordeaux and Antoine said the nearly 300 cases dismissed in tribal court are a small fraction of the total cases handled.

At the current pace, the tribal court could handle 5,000 criminal cases by the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30, Antoine said.