Tribal Police Feeling Pressure from Tribal Council, LIVINGSTON, April 15, 2015 - According to a lawyer representing the Alabama Coushatta Tribe of Texas, the tribe is a sovereign nation. Under the pressure of the tribal council, the tribal police (licensed by the State of Texas) are instructed to run their cases through "Tribal Court" (even though law states that the tribe does not have prosecution authority). As peace officers licensed by the State of Texas, the tribal police officers have been educated and trained to uphold Texas law, but according to some of their police who spoke on the condition of anonymity, they're being pushed by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Council to do something entirely different. If a tribal police officer comes upon an alcohol related crime such as assault family violence, and the officer doesn't arrest the assailant, but rather sends them to the tribal court, and then the offender comes back home and kills somebody, what kind of trouble would that officer be in for not enforcing Texas law (but rather, tribal law)? Would that policeman be prosecuted in state court for failing to act according to Texas Law? The tribal police have also been told that they do not have jurisdiction anywhere except on tribal property. Most of the tribal police officers are not Native American, but only work for the AC Tribe. They've been told that they can only enforce the laws on Native Americans. One officer told PolkCountyToday.com that alcohol is a huge problem on the reservation. The police have been told that rather than uphold Texas Laws and make an arrest for public intoxication (for example), the police should just take the person to their home and not make an arrest. If the person continues to repeat the crime, then they should go to tribal court, and more than likely, the offender will get sent to "Healing and Wellness Court". Family violence is a common problem at the reservation (often alcohol related); are the police not to uphold Texas laws, but rather, send the offender to the Tribal Court? How can victims of assault at the tribe feel safe if the offenders are being hood winked in Tribal Court? If these things are true, then it sounds like the Alabama Coushatta Reservation is fertile grounds for a nearly lawless community (and they allegedly want to bring back gambling). How's that going to pan out when the tribal police are being pressured to for all intent and purposes, look the other way? The definition of corruption is "impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle". Things like this can lead to these policemen being on the receiving end of a US Marshals investigation and raid of their department. These policemen are being pressured and admit that these tribal rules are confusing. As far as being a "sovereign nation", the tribe can't be too sovereign when they're receiving huge amounts of funding from tax payers.
Nichols files legislation to allow Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas to police reservation lands (March 9, 2011)
Austin — Today, state Senator Robert Nichols (R—Jacksonville) and Rep. John Otto (R—Dayton) filed legislation to allow the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe in Tyler and Polk Counties to establish their own law enforcement agency. "Granting authority for the Alabama-Coushatta to police their own territory is something I am doing at the request of the tribe with the support of county officials," said Nichols. "By creating a law enforcement agency, the Alabama-Coushatta can maintain the safety of tribe members and visitors to the reservation." Otto stressed the importance of this legislation to the tribe. "I am pleased to support this effort as it has been a priority of the tribal council to have law enforcement on the reservation that is recognized by the state," said Otto.
Carlos Bullock, chairman of the tribal council, explained the need for creating a tribal police agency. "Reservation lands are away from major population areas, and it is difficult for county law enforcement to be everywhere at once. By allowing us to establish our own police agency, we can monitor tribal land and work with local officials for the benefit of tribal members who live on the reservation and visitors of the community," Bullock said. Senate Bill 1378 and House Bill 2768 grant the tribal agency enforcement powers of state law on Alabama-Coushatta lands in Polk and Tyler counties. Members of the tribal agency would undergo the same training, certification and continuing education standards as other law enforcement in the state. Rep. James White (R—Hillister), who represents Tyler County, is a joint-author of the House Bill. "I am proud to work with my legislative colleagues to meet the needs of the Alabama-Coushatta tribe," said White. "I believe this is a bill that will allow improved safety for everyone."
The bill only gives enforcement powers, not prosecution authority to the tribe. The tribe would still depend on traditional law enforcement for prosecution. "The tribe currently enjoys favorable relationships with the Sheriffs of Polk and Tyler Counties, and we feel the establishment of a tribal enforcement agency will only enhance those relationships and promote cooperation," Bullock said.
The commissioners courts in Polk and Tyler Counties have both passed resolutions of support for this legislation. Additionally, the United States Department of the Interior has endorsed the efforts of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas to create its own police department.
Questions and Concerns...
Why is there such a disparity in the penalties for criminal violations?
If the Tribe sincerely cared about the safety of its community why would they want to have such lenient laws?
The State of Texas allowed for the Tribe to have State certified law enforcement officers. Why are they now telling their Officers to only enforce the newly created Tribal laws?
Did the Tribe advise the State of Texas and the legislators they were going to make up their own laws and court system? Are the legislators who wrote these bills aware that they may be supporting some legislation that if granted may be changed at the whim of the Tribe.
The Tribe has proposed bills to allow for gambling and bingo on the Reservation. How safe would it be for individuals if the maximum time a Native American could get for a crime such as robbery or rape is only a year?
Is it fair and just to have a two side system? One that is lenient on Tribal Members and another set of standards for everyone else.
It is apparent that nobody will ever be sent to jail even if it is for a year under the system they created because the Tribe does not have a jail or holding facility. Will the Polk County SO house prisoners convicted of Tribal Crimes.
There are certain crimes that are not mentioned in the Tribal law that are definitely crimes as defined by Texas Statue for example synthetic marijuana. How can the Alabama Coushatta Tribe legalize drugs in the State of Texas?
Since they have duped the State and have created a duplicitous court system. Will they fabricate their own Probation and Parole Department as well?
It is common knowledge that many of the Tribes members don’t have driver’s license and insurance as mandated by the State. Are they going to make up their own traffic code and rules?
The taxpayers of the USA and the State of Texas help fund many of the programs the Tribe have. The Tribe is eligible and receives both State and Federal funds. This money is from taxpayers. How much State and Federal money has the Tribe received over the last two years including grants and from the Bureau of Indian Affairs?
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