Missoulian: Tribes receive $3.5M in funding for law enforcement, victim services

by Nora Mabie

Tribal law enforcement agencies in Montana will receive more than $3.5 million in annual Department of Justice funding.

The Crow Tribe received $607,751, the Blackfeet Nation received $719,669, the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes received $504,456 and the Chippewa Cree Tribe received $410,245 through the Crime Victim Fund.  

According to a release, tribal partners are encouraged to “be creative and innovative” in using these funds for culturally-relevant victim services. Montana reservation law enforcement agencies also received additional funds through separate grant programs in the same announcement.

The Fort Belknap Indian Community will receive $739,501 through the Fiscal Year 2022 Coordinate Grant Program, which intends to improve victim services and prevent missing and murdered Indigenous people incidents as well as human trafficking. The Fort Belknap Indian Community plans to hire two victim/witness specialists to improve advocacy, culture-based intervention services and other resources. The specialists will collaborate with agencies, including the chief tribal prosecutor, law enforcement, criminal investigator and FBI to improve laws, policies and protocols for crime victims.

The Chippewa Cree Tribe will receive $450,000 through a Tribal Assistance Solicitation Fiscal year 2022 Competitive Grant to improve investigation, prosecution and handling of criminal child abuse cases on the Rocky Boy Reservation. The tribe will also hire a child advocate to work with child victims of abuse, neglect and sexual assault.

The Crow Tribe will receive $129,552 through the Community Oriented Policing Program to develop a strategic plan to create an effective and sustainable community-driven public safety program.

The Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes will receive $10,186 through the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to support activities that prevent or control crime.

Tribal law enforcement agencies are often criticized for being understaffed, under-resourced and underfunded. Former Blackfeet Tribal Council Secretary Mark Pollock told Lee Montana newspapers in June that 18 tribal police officers patrol the reservation, which spans 1.5 million acres. Because officers must take time off between shifts, he said sometimes two officers may be responsible for patrolling the reservation, which is home to more than 10,000 people. As a result, people who call police for help may face long wait times and may not receive the help they need in emergencies. The same is true on the Crow Reservation. Last year, Crow Tribal Chairman Frank White Clay said about five officers patrolled the reservation, which is bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

Video courtesy of Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services.Courtesy of Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services

Funding was made possible through the 2022 bipartisan Omnibus funding package. Sen. Jon Tester was the only member of the Montana delegation to support it.

Tester said in a statement that he hopes the funding will provide tribes with “the necessary tools to hold criminals accountable and help victims recover.”

Tribes receive $3.5M in funding for law enforcement, victim services (missoulian.com)