Monday, October 11, 2010

Tribal Police Face Increased Dangers in Indian Country

Over the weekend word spread of the loss of Officer Merrill Bruguier. Officer Bruguier had the distinction of serving within one of the most unique law enforcement settings in America: tribal policing. He began his career with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Police in 1996 as a detention officer and became a police officer in 2002. On the morning of Saturday, October 9, 2010, Officer Bruguier was killed in a single vehicle crash while on duty.

In the past 10 years, only seven tribal law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty. Two of those losses have occurred this year. In addition to Officer Bruguier, Police Officer Joshua Yazzie was killed in an automobile accident on the Ute Indian Reservation in Utah while serving with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Law Enforcement.

According to the Tribal Law and Policy Institute, there are over 200 tribal police departments in America, staffed with only 2,300 officers. Just like traditional agencies, these range from small 2-officer departments to departments with over 200+ officers protecting 250,000 citizens in an area larger than the state of Connecticut. Unlike traditional agencies, these officers often work alone in extremely remote areas with no hope for a quick response from backup officers. At the same time, they are combating crime created by a higher than normal rate of alcohol and drug abuse.

Reservations that lie on or near the U.S. / Mexican border, such as the Tohono O'Odham Nation, also have to deal with the very dangerous reality of narcotics and human smuggling operations orchestrated by Mexican drug cartels. Four U.S. Border Patrol agents and one U.S. Customs Service patrol officer have been killed in the line of duty on the reservation since 1986.

In total, 51 members of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Law Enforcement and 40 members of individual tribal police departments have been killed in the line of duty. We join the Indian Country Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at FLETC-Artesia in honoring these fallen heroes:

Patch image: Ak-Chin Tribal Police Department, AZAk-Chin Tribal Police Department
Maricopa, AZ
Fallen officers: 2
Patch image: Cherokee Nation Marshal's Service, OKCherokee Nation Marshal's Service
Tahlequah, OK
Fallen officers: 3
Patch image: Colville Tribal Police Department, WAColville Tribal Police Department
Nespelem, WA
Fallen officers: 2
Patch image: Crow Nation Tribal Police Department, MTCrow Nation Tribal Police Department
Crow Agency, MT
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribal Police Department, NVFallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribal Police Department
Fallon, NV
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Flathead Indian Nation Police Department, MTFlathead Indian Nation Police Department
Pablo, MT
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Hannahville Tribal Police Department, MIHannahville Tribal Police Department
Wilson, MI
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Jicarilla Apache Tribal Police Department, NMJicarilla Apache Tribal Police Department
Dulce, NM
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Miccosukee Tribal Police Department, FLMiccosukee Tribal Police Department
Miami, FL
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Navajo Division of Public Safety, AZNavajo Division of Public Safety
Window Rock, AZ
Fallen officers: 8
Patch image: Oglala Sioux Tribal Police, SDOglala Sioux Tribal Police
Pine Ridge, SD
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Oneida Tribal Police Department, WIOneida Tribal Police Department
Oneida, WI
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma Police, OKOtoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma Police
Red Rock, OK
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Pojoaque Pueblo Tribal Police Department, NMPojoaque Pueblo Tribal Police Department
Santa Fe, NM
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Quinault Tribal Police Department, WAQuinault Tribal Police Department
Taholah, WA
Fallen officers: 2
Patch image: Rocky Boy's Tribal Police Department, MTRocky Boy's Tribal Police Department
Box Elder, MT
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: San Carlos Apache Tribal Police Department, AZSan Carlos Apache Tribal Police Department
San Carlos, AZ
Fallen officers: 3
Patch image: San Ildefonso Pueblo Tribal Police, NMSan Ildefonso Pueblo Tribal Police
Santa Fe, NM
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Seminole Nation of Oklahoma Lighthorsemen Police, OKSeminole Nation of Oklahoma Lighthorsemen Police
Wewoka, OK
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Seminole Tribe of Florida Department of Law Enforcement, FLSeminole Tribe of Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Hollywood, FL
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Tohono O'odham Nation Police Department, AZTohono O'odham Nation Police Department
Sells, AZ
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: United States Department of the Interior - Bureau of Indian Affairs - Division of Law Enforcement, DCUnited States Department of the Interior - Bureau of Indian Affairs - Division of Law Enforcement
Washington, DC
Fallen officers: 51
Patch image: Ute Mountain Tribal Police Department, COUte Mountain Tribal Police Department
Towaoc, CO
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Warm Springs Tribal Police Department, ORWarm Springs Tribal Police Department
Warm Springs, OR
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: White Mountain Apache Tribal Police Department, AZWhite Mountain Apache Tribal Police Department
Whiteriver, AZ
Fallen officers: 1
Patch image: Yakama Nation Tribal Police Department, WAYakama Nation Tribal Police Department
Toppenish, WA
Fallen officers: 1

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