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Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Sign Cross-Deputization Agreement

Creates Jurisdictional Partnership with BIA and Anadarko Police (from Wichita Tribal News August 2018, Page 1)

 

Cross-Deputization Agreement

President Terri Parton, authorized by the Wichita Executive Committee, signed an agreement effective July 16, 2018, that grants cross-deputization powers to the BIA police and the Anadarko Police Department on Wichita tribal lands. Clockwise from left: Anadarko Police Chief Tracy Roles; Wichita and Affiliated Tribes President Terri Parton; Anadarko City Manager Kenneth Corn; and Anadarko BIA Police Chief Michael Longhat.

Upholding the law in Indian Country has its own obstacles that police officers in other cities, counties and states do not have. One of these situations involves federal BIA police having to determine federal trust property status and jurisdiction. This is especially true in Oklahoma, where both tribal trust land and Native individual/family trust properties have the nickname of "checkerboard" tribal jurisdiction, brought about through federal allotment actions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This also works in reverse. City, county and state law enforcement bodies also have to determine federal trust property status in Oklahoma to see whether or not they have any jurisdiction at all. When law enforcement officers have split-second decisions to make, looking at a county plat map isn't always an option.

 

The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Executive Committee recognized the need to reduce jurisdictional issues on tribal trust property by entering a cross-deputization agreement with both the BIA Police and the City of Anadarko. The process began with the WEC Resolution WT-18-73, "Authorizing the President to Execute the Cross Deputization Agreement with City of Anadarko." The resolution was voted into tribal law 4-0-0 on April 11, 2018. The actual agreement between the parties involved-The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, BIA Office of Justice Services and the City of Anadarko-was signed into agreement on July 16, 2018.

 

"Our Tribe has been looking at the Cross-Deputization Agreement for some time," said President Terri Parton. "We have businesses and homes in Anadarko and businesses in Hinton. Of course, the initial concern is always safety but, for Tribal Nations, sovereignty is a huge factor as to whether or not to decide to enter into agreements such as these. We weighed all the pros and cons before entering into the agreement. Our tribal sovereignty is still protected while enhancing the safety and protection of our tribal members, especially in our housing authorities that are located within the city limits of Anadarko that are not on trust property.

 

"Chief Michael Longhat, from the Anadarko Agency BIA Law Enforcement, has been proactive in helping us move this forward," Parton continued. "The City of Anadarko, the City Manager, the Mayor and the Chief of Police have all been great partners in recognizing the benefits to all when we can all come together to work to improve our community as a city, Tribal Nation and as a government entity such as the BIA Law Enforcement. Resources are always spent better doing things in a positive way when you work together, which made this a very smooth process. We hope to be able to continue to work collaboratively in the future."

 

According to the Anadarko BIA police, the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes is the first tribal government in southwest Oklahoma to create a partnership of this sort. One of the key points of the agreement, according to Anadarko BIA Chief of Police Michael Longhat, is that it creates "liability coverage" between the two organizations. Either entity can secure a situation depending on who is first on the scene. It also creates what Longhat refers to as "safer communities."

 

"Our checkerboard status is so unknown to where an officer may not be immediately aware they're in what we call trust property," Longhat said. "We have to determine that not only on the fly, but maybe once we arrive on scene, looking on a map and so forth. If you take that mindset away from the officer, they don't have to worry about that because of this agreement."

 

According to Longhat, areas in which the BIA have jurisdiction in regards to Wichita property includes Wichita allotments and trust property within the WCD tribal jurisdiction, as well as a secondary jurisdiction in regards to tribally-owned "fee status" property that may not be in trust. The jurisdictional extension to fee status property is due to an extension of Oklahoma state law. Longhat said the agreement "gives the tribe another option" in enforcing properties such as Wichita Estates, Iscani and other tribal properties within the City of Anadarko.

 

Anadarko Police Chief Tracy Roles also sees the benefits of the agreement, calling it a "win-win" situation for the city, the BIA and the Wichita Tribe. Roles also emphasized the city's need to respect tribal jurisdiction.

 

"We, the Anadarko Police Department, are not looking to expand what we have to enforce," Roles said. "We have our hands full with what we have with the City of Anadarko. Certainly, if we can provide that collaborative effort with the BIA, it's going to make us and the citizens of the Wichita Tribe much safer. The BIA is the expert in Indian law enforcement. We don't claim to be, nor will we ever be. We will really rely on them and their expertise while we are assisting with any enforcement action that they wish for us to do, and vice versa. Now this agreement will also allow BIA to come in and take enforcement action on non-Indian land in the City of Anadarko, which helps us as well."

 

Some of the benefits of the agreement that Longhat said the BIA can offer the City of Anadarko include shared resources such as the BIA mobile command post and surveillance monitoring. The BIA is also in the process of re-establishing their K-9 unit. Roles stated that the resources that the City of Anadarko can share with the BIA include personnel, vehicles and other types of equipment. Both Longhat and Roles also emphasized the sharing of intelligence, of which Longhat referred to as the "Indian Nexus"-a sharing of connections of who is within Indian Country, both Indian and non-Indian.

 

Another aspect of the agreement is that it is renewable after three years. However, there is the possibility of the agreement being altered or even terminated depending on a change in leadership, either on the city or tribe's side.

 

"I would hope that if the agreement does change, it would only change for the better," Roles said, "that we find ways to make it better and find ways to increase its effectiveness for everyone involved."

 

While the agreement has been signed, there are still areas that have to be fulfilled before it can be enacted. One of these, at press time, is that the agreement has to be filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office. Another is that the Anadarko Police Department has to undergo federal-level training in both federal tribal jurisdictional issues and in Native cultural awareness. The course, Longhat said, is titled "Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country." Because many federal-level attorneys have to be present to train the officers, the course is still being scheduled at press time. BIA police will also have an opportunity to be Oklahoma state certified through the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) program pending a municipal-level sponsorship.

 

Overall, Longhat said he wants the Wichita tribal members to know that the BIA police will still be the primary law enforcement entity without losing any sovereign right.

 

"One of the things that I want to make sure that [tribal] members to understand is that it's not like the City of Anadarko is going to be answering calls for service for us," Longhat said. "It doesn't take away. We're still going to be the primary law enforcement investigating agency on all calls. We're going to respond always just as we have. What I hope that tribal members understand is they're not really giving up any sovereignty right. This is a safety and security issue to where if they need law enforcement, we're going to be responding. The City of Anadarko is not going to basically do anything within our jurisdiction without our knowledge. They may arrive at a residence, and they may need to interview somebody. As far as any actions taken, everything is going to be like it's always been."

Roles made a similar statement to Wichita Tribal News, stating the Anadarko Police Deparment's respect for tribal sovereignty and its willingness to collaborate with the tribe and with BIA law enforcement personnel.

"I really want to stress that this agreement, this partnership, is not an attempt for us, the Anadarko Police Department, to enforce Native law, to impede on the sovereignty of the Wichita people," Roles said. "This is just a collaborative effort so that we can assist, and BIA can assist, with enforcement needs within the City of Anadarko. In no way are way trying to infringe upon any of the rights of anybody. We're not trying to take over anything. We're an assistance arm, and we're there to help, and the BIA is there to help us."