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Tribal Law Enforcement
The legal responsibilities of the federal government has been on the increase with each passing year though the basic responsibility of preventing and controlling crime rests with the state, local and the tribal governments for it to be effective. There are several tribal police units that are entrusted with the control of crime and prevention of the same assisted by the tribal judicial systems that have the duty of applying the law. These two bodies, the tribal police and judiciary system are the ultimate expression of tribal sovereignty. These two systems help the nation express it sovereignty since they assist in enacting, enforcing as well as interpreting the national laws at the grassroots level (National Congress of American Indians, 2010).
Nature of Indian law enforcement system
Most of the public safety and criminal justice systems that are in the Indian legal system and Indian Country are funded by the federal government. This has seen an increasing workload handed to the Indian police department in the face of rising crime rates, increased involvement of the police in the social concerns that relate to crime, heightened community demands for police services, yet the Indian police system is struggling to meet all these demand on a very limited resource base. The success so far of this process is from the dedication that is there among the men and women who are working for the Indian Country police department and their professionalism that keeps them going each day of the week.
The nature and reality of the police in Indian country are as below;
The nature of the bureaucracy among the Indian police is such that they are within a very complex jurisdictional net, they are also answerable to multiple authorities, they have very limited resources from which they operate yet they have to patrol some of the most isolated areas of Indian country without much assistance from the partner law enforcement agencies.
The pressure on the police department is overwhelming as there are only 2,380 Bureau of Indian affairs and tribal uniformed officers that are accessible and enlisted to serve well over 1.4 million Indians on a geographical area of 56 million acres of tribal lands in the lower 48 states.
The ratio of police officers to the people is also wanting as it is estimated that 1.3 officers serve every 1,000 citizens, this is quite low as compared to the non-Indian communities where there are 2.9 officers per 1,000 citizens with a population of under 10,000 people.
It is apparent from the above statistics that there is a need of at least 4,300 sworn officers in Indian country so as to be able to meet the minimum level of coverage that is enjoyed by most of the other communities in the U.S.A.
There is still a huge challenge on the officers of being able to provide round-the-clock police coverage to the Indian community. This then leaves gaps for the criminal elements that still widely threaten the security of the people and the development as well. There is rarely more than one officer on duty on the regular basis, and even this one officer normally has no adequate backup hence have to keep innovating means of compensating for the lack of backup.
The tribal court system
Despite the fact that there have been efforts to restrain the extent of the tribal justice system, tribes still have the ultimate authority to determine the legal system that govern them and the forums where such can be administered as well as the relationship that exists between the legal body and other governing bodies within or without the tribe. Among the many Indian tribes, the procedures used to handle the conflicts and crimes as well as disputes differ among the Indian Nations. Among many tribes, there is a dual justice system in existence, one that is based on the American paradigm of justice and the second purely based on the indigenous paradigm of justice. It is worth noting as well that some have the hybrid system that resulted out of imposed American style of justice system yet with indigenous philosophy, practices and methods into the court policies, practices and procedures (Vicenti, C.N., 1995).
There are fundamental differences that exist between the American justice system and the Indian tribal justice system that sets them totally apart. The…[continue]
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