Mille Lacs Band Sues County Over Policing

November 18, 2017 01:39 PM

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe announced Friday that it has filed a complaint in federal district court against Mille Lacs County and its officials, the next step in an ongoing dispute over the tribe's policing. 

The complaint alleges that the county has prevented Mille Lacs Band police officers from exercising their power within the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation, which has contributed to an epidemic of drug overdoses. 

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"Gangs and drug dealers think our reservation is a police-free zone," said Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin. "They're selling drugs right in front of our officers because they now they're unlikely to be arrested, let alone prosecuted." 

A release from the tribe said county officials have threatened Band police with arrest if they attempt to carry out law enforcement duties outside the land held in trust for the Band. 

In July 2016, Mille Lacs County revoked a 25-year-old joint law enforcement agreement with tribal police that gave the Band authority to enforce state law on the reservation. 

Dayton: Mille Lacs County, Tribe Need to Work on Policing Agreement

Gov. Mark Dayton has called the issue a "public safety crisis" and urged the two sides to resolve the dispute in September. 

Mille Lacs County Administrator Pat Oman said at the time that the county had put a new joint law enforcement agreement on the table, but disagreements persist. 

The full statement from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe can be found here. 

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Andrew Heiser

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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