Editorial: Mille Lacs law enforcement dispute
"If you've been reading the paper lately, you can't help but notice that bad things are happening on the west side of Mille Lacs.

Every week, there are reports of shootings, fires, beatings or burglaries. Last week it was a drive-by shooting. The week before, it was arson. These problems can occur anywhere, but most of the recent incidents are occurring in the Mille Lacs Band community.

I'm not the only one wondering if there's a connection between this current rash of violence and the end of the mutual aid agreement between Mille Lacs County and the Mille Lacs Band.

With the agreement in place, the Band had several officers on duty at all times, ready to respond to situations before they escalated. Without the agreement, county deputies, stretched thin, must take the lead both in emergency response and criminal investigations. As a result, public safety suffers - primarily for Band members, who must be terrified by what's going on.

Law enforcement in tribal areas is a huge expense for Mille Lacs County. The agreement saved the county money and increased public safety.

The current dispute arose because Mille Lacs County Attorney Jan Kolb wanted to see all tribal police reports. She cites the state law that makes the agreement possible, which gives her the right to prosecute or initiate petitions for those arrested, investigated or detained by peace officers acting under the agreement.

The Mille Lacs Band says the county attorney has a right to incident reports that relate to the Band's enforcement of state law, but not those related to the Band's authority under federal law - meaning 1837 Treaty cases and civil regulatory cases."

Get the Story:
Brett Larson - Let's make a deal on mutual aid agreement (The Mille Lacs Messenger 1/9)

Relevant Links:
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe - http://www.millelacsojibwe.org