The establishment of a new Federal law enforcement agency that would provide police services to the nationís Indian reservations may be on the horizon under a Justice Department initiative that was the focus of a high-level meeting last month in Washington, Law Enforcement News has learned.
The new agency would supplement or supplant the law enforcement system currently administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an arm of the Interior Department that historically has provided health, education and public safety services to the nationís more than 500 Indian tribes and their 1.9 million members, sources told LEN.
The BIA law enforcement system has been plagued in recent years by allegations of police brutality, which some critics say is exacerbated by jurisdictional disputes and a lack of adequate internal affairs and supervision. In a four-part series in Law Enforcement News last year, BIA, tribal police and other Indian officials said BIAís efforts to fight skyrocketing crime on the reservations are hampered by shrinking budgets and shortages of personnel and other resources that most law enforcement agencies take for granted. [LEN, April 15; May 15; June 15; July/August 1996.]