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ONPD working to renew BIA commissions after Osage County Sheriff nixes Cross-Commission Agreement

Osage Nation Police Chief Nick Williams said the department is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to renew the commissions of 13 Osage police officers, to be able to enforce State Law on non-Natives within Indian Country without relying on cross-commissions with the Osage County Sheriff’s Office.

The ON police officers have been at an impasse after Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden verbally pulled their commission cards on Nov. 28, 2017, preventing them from issuing tickets or making arrests on state lands and against non-Natives in Indian Country. According to Oklahoma state law Title 21-99, which passed in 2013, tribal officers shall have state police powers to enforce state laws in Indian Country while in possession of a BIA commission.

“Due to failed negotiations ONPD has been in the process to get their Special Law Enforcement Commissions through the BIA to enforce State Law on Non-Natives within Indian Country Jurisdiction,” Williams said. “ONPD is expecting the process to be done mid-to-late March, with the help of the U.S. Attorney General’s office, BIA and the Department of Interior, since all of ONPD had previously held SLEC’s.

“The SLEC’s had expired within this past year, which ONPD did not question the expiration due to the long running cross commission and working relationship (20+ years) with the Osage County Sheriff’s Office. Due to the cross commission, SLEC’s were not needed to enforce State Law on non-Natives in Indian Country.”

Osage Nation police officers were cross-deputized by the Osage County Sheriff’s Office during the tenure of Sheriff Ty Koch about 10 years ago, according to The Bigheart Times. And according to former ON Chief of Police John Drexil, he has had a commission through the Osage County Sheriff’s office for the last 22 years through previous Sheriff’s in office, Williams said.

Williams said the process for an officer to obtain their SLEC is the officer attends Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country class, where they study Indian Law and Courts of Jurisdiction. After testing out of the academy, they will go through an adjudication process and fill out paperwork that is submitted to the BIA and the FBI. Williams said that since the 13 Osage officers have all previously held SLECs, they are required to attend CJIC class where they will be updated on legal issues and learn about case law and studies currently taking place within Indian Country.

“This is not included with the State Classes to which ONPD is required to take each year to maintain their Oklahoma CLEET certifications,” he said.

Williams said he hopes the ONPD officers will be finished with the SLEC process by mid-March.


Shannon Shaw Duty

Original Publish Date: 2018-01-26 00:00:00


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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Duty

Title: Editor


Twitter: @dutyshaw

Topic Expertise: Columnist, Culture, Community

Languages spoken: English, Osage (intermediate), Spanish (beginner)

Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage from the Grayhorse District, is the editor of the award-winning Osage News, the official independent media of the Osage Nation. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Legal Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Peoples Law. She currently sits on the Freedom of Information Committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. She has served as a board member for LION Publishers, as Vice President for the Pawhuska Public Schools Board of Education, on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (now Indigenous Journalists Association) and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee. She is a Chips Quinn Scholar, a former instructor for the Freedom Forum’s Native American Journalism Career Conference and the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute. She is a former reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She is a 2012 recipient of the Native American 40 Under 40 from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive NAJA's Elias Boudinot Free Press Award. The Osage News won Best Newspaper from the SPJ-Oklahoma Chapter in their division 2018-2022. Her award-winning work has been published in Indian Country Today, The Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity, NPR, the Associated Press, Tulsa World and others. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and together they share six children, two dogs and two cats.

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