Editorial: A failure of justice on Rosebud Reservation
"Law and order on South Dakota’s Indian reservations didn’t need this problem.

There are countless issues of crime, failures of justice and lack of public safety facing the people who live on many of America’s Indian reservations. We were especially disheartened to learn of another self-inflicted one.

Nearly 300 criminal cases have been dismissed to date from tribal courts on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south-central South Dakota because of allegations that tribal police officers had invalid or expired police commissions. In those cases, defense attorneys argued, the lack of current commissions meant the arresting or investigating officer could not act in that official role. The issue threatens to affect at least three federal court cases.

Tribal ordinance requires the commissions be renewed every two years, but former tribal president Charles Colombe signed and extended them indefinitely. The officers believed they were carrying valid cards.

The bungling of administrative paperwork raises serious questions about management, and the resignation of Rosebud Sioux Tribe Police Chief Charles Red Crow was a necessary step in restoring trust in the department.

But the bigger issue here is the erosion of public trust in the entire reservation justice system."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Tribal paperwork failure of justice (The Rapid City Journal 4/11)

Related Stories:
Rosebud Sioux Tribe's chief of police resigns (4/8)
Rosebud police chief says officers are certified (4/2)
Certification of Rosebud Sioux officers at issue (4/1)