Mille Lacs Band Tribal Police Have Authority to Enforce State Laws Again

September 18, 2018 10:09 PM

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe has reached a new agreement with Mille Lacs County giving Tribal Police the authority to enforce state laws on the reservation.


Two years ago, Mille Lacs County revoked its Joint Powers Agreement with Tribal Police, which meant officers could not make arrests on reservation land because under Minnesota statutes tribes have to sign an agreement with local law enforcement before Tribal Police can enforce state laws on the reservation.

Melanie Benjamin, Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive issued a statement which said:

The past two years have been tragic and difficult years on the reservation. This is the beginning of a long journey in restoring law, order and hope in our community.

Tribal leaders told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS drug dealers moved in when they found out Tribal Police had lost their authority. Drug overdoes doubled and violent crime went up on the reservation.

More from KSTP: 

Mille Lacs Band Announces New Policing Agreement With County 

Hundreds Rally at State Capitol for More Police Protection on Mille Lacs Reservation 

Mille Lacs Tribal Adviser: Drug Deals Now Occurring with Impunity 

Tribal member, Jake Morris, told KSTP he's witnessed the increase in crime and just this month a homicide was committed a few doors down from his home.

"The criminals definitely know Tribal Police cannot do anything and they have become more brazen," Morris said. "I am happy to hear they have authority back and can now arrest people and put them in jail."

Mille Lacs County Attorney, Joe Walsh, said Tribal Police, as of noon Tuesday, have the authority to enforce state laws on the reservation and things will not change much from the previous Joint Powers Agreement of two years ago.

"I have not really seen any specific spike in crime during these two years," Walsh said. "But, there clearly is a drug abuse and overdose problem right now."

A year ago, Gov. Mark Dayton told KSTP the crime and drug problems on the Mille Lacs Reservation were a "public health crisis" and "it is deplorable and needs to stop."


Jay Kolls

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