New tribal police force investigates homicide

BIA, FBI assist
By 
Luella N. Brien
Monday, June 29, 2020
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Courtesy photo
The newly formed Crow Police Department is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate a suspected homicide that occurred in Crow Agency Sunday evening. The Crow Tribe began operation of its own police department on Saturday, June 27.

Less than 24 hours after the Crow Tribe’s new police force was sworn in by tribal officials, officers responded to a suspected homicide that took place in Crow Agency at approximately 5 p.m. Sunday, officials said in a press release.

The incident happened at a Crow Agency gas station on Makawasha Avenue and involved two members of a federally recognized tribe, the press release continued.

The police department is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident, officials added

“The Crow Tribe’s Police Department is working with Bureau of Indian Affairs and Federal Bureau of Investigation law enforcement agencies because the alleged crime falls under the Major Crimes Act,” Crow Tribe Chief of Police Terrill Bracken said in the statement.

The Major Crimes Act was passed in 1885 as part of the Indian Appropriations Act. It places certain crimes, like murder, manslaughter, kidnapping and other major felonies, under federal jurisdiction if they are committed by a Native American on an Indian Reservation.

“The Crow Police Department performed in a text-book fashion in responding to this incident. The Crow Police Department will constantly be tested in its ability to provide police protection services and we are confident that the Crow Tribe, Crow people and residents of the reservation will benefit from a tribal police department,” Crow Tribal Chairman Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid Jr. said in the statement. “It is always unfortunate when an incident results in a loss of life, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”

Not Afraid issued a notice to Charlie Addington, Bureau of Indian Affairs Director for Office of Justice Services in Washington D.C., ending the Memorandum of Agreement for police protection services for the Crow Indian Reservation, tribal officials said in a press release Friday.

The Crow Tribe began operation of its own police department on Saturday, June 27 and has a Memorandum of Agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services for corrections and detention services during the transition and talks are being finalized to secure a central dispatch center.

Officers were sworn in at midnight on Saturday and began patrolling immediately.

“I want to lead the Crow Tribe’s very own Police Department because I believe the Crow People and residents of the Crow Indian Reservation deserve better,” Not Afraid said. “The Crow Tribe no longer seeks to lead the nation in missing and murdered indigenous people and the Crow Tribe no will longer allow drug and human trafficking cases to go unprosecuted and uninvestigated.”

The Crow Tribe submitted a P.L. 93-638 Contract Proposal to assume all BIA-Office of Justice police protection services for the Crow Indian Reservation in January. 

The press released continued, the Crow Tribe’s chairman committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all residents of the Crow Indian Reservation and full enforcement of the Crow Tribe’s laws, including the “bad man” clause of the 1868 Crow Treaty with the United States signed at Fort Laramie.

The bad man clause, found in Article 1 of the treaty states:

“If bad men among the Indians shall commit a wrong or depredation upon the person or property of any one, white, black, or Indian, subject to the authority of the United States and at peace therewith, the Indians herein named solemnly agree that they will, on proof made to their agent and notice by him, deliver up the wrongdoer to the United States, to be tried and punished according to its laws…”

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