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30 May 2007
Historic Tribal Police Certifications Announced by State Police and Akwesasne

(May 30, 2007 – Albany, NY) – Today New York State Police Acting Superintendent Preston L. Felton and St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council (Chiefs James Ransom, Lorraine White and Barbara Lazore) announced that 11 members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department have met the necessary State requirements for certification and are appointed by the Superintendent as police officers authorized to enforce New York State law. This is the first time in State history that such appointments have been rendered to Tribal Police Officers.

The Tribal Police Officers appointed are: Deputy Chief Brian Barnes, Sergeant Belson Herne, Sergeant Larry Edgley, Corporal Matthew Rourke, Corporal Martin Jock, Corporal Al Jock, Patrol Officer Pete Barnes, Patrol Officer Peter Burns, Patrol Officer Pat Chubb, Patrol Officer Tina Sunday and Patrol Officer Phil White.

Acting Superintendent Felton said, “These appointments will enable tribal officers to provide a higher level of service to the Mohawk community. In addition to serving the interests of this community, they will help protect the entire State of New York by enhancing the security of nearly 12 miles of international border between the United States and Canada. Today begins a historic and, I hope, long partnership between members of the State Police and the Tribal Police Department who, by working together, will be better able to protect our state and federal security and will provide enhanced protection for all the people of the region.“

Chief Lorraine M. White, speaking on behalf of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council stated, "For several decades, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has worked diligently to develop the necessary infrastructure to support our Mohawk tribal justice system. Beginning with the establishment of the Tribal Police Department in 1972 and the Tribal Court in 1994, and continuing with today's certification of our tribal police officers, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has moved one giant step closer towards securing well-deserved respect, honor and independence for our tribal police department and our tribal judiciary. We remain committed to empowering our community with qualified professionals who are dedicated to making public safety a priority and vigorously enforcing the law."

The Honorable Glenn T. Suddaby, U.S. Attorney Northern District of New York, said, "The New York State Certification of the St. Regis Mohawk Police Officers is a tremendous step forward for the Mohawk community and all of law enforcement in the North Country. The St. Regis Mohawk Police know their territory and community better than anyone else and to have them as a fully certified partner is a benefit to the cooperative law enforcement efforts which make our country, state and communities safer. The St. Regis Mohawk Police Department is a partner and force multiplier in our Homeland Security efforts."

Senator Betty Little “Working with the New York State Police through this historic training partnership, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police will now provide a higher level of police protection on the reservation. This is a benefit to those living on the reservation as well as to visitors. I was pleased to sponsor the legislation that helped make this possible and I congratulate the officers being certified today.”

Assemblyman Darrel Aubertine said, “ As the sponsor of the law that led to the appointments made today, it is gratifying to know that the reservation will be a safter place with these St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police enforcing state law. Criminals should not be able to evade justices when their crimes occur on a reservation.”

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey said, “I congratulate the eleven members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department who have met the NYS Police certification requirements. This historic appointment of the Tribal officers, allowing them to enforce New York State’s laws, represents an excellent level of cooperation between the State Police and the Tribal Police.”

Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne said, “The Tribal Police Department has earned a reputation as being one of the most professional police agencies in the North Country. Through their work and effort, they have participated in many safe community measures with numerous other police agencies from New York, the United States, Canada, as well as other Tribal Nation Police Departments. These certifications will enhance and further the relationships that the Tribal Police Department has developed, and will improve all law enforcement activities in the North Country.”

Previously, tribal police officers had only limited civil police authority and only as it related to members of the tribe. The appointments by Acting Superintendent Felton provide these officers with general police authority throughout the reservation. These tribal police officers will now be able to provide a full range of law enforcement services and make arrests for all criminal offenses occurring on the St. Regis reservation in Franklin County, in the same manner and extent as any local or state officer.

Tribal officers will also have the authority to stop vehicles and enforce vehicle and traffic laws on the St. Regis reservation. They will able to issue appearance tickets, commence criminal investigations, execute warrants and file accusatory instruments in local criminal courts. They are also empowered to make arrests outside of their jurisdiction when the arrest is the result of a pursuit that originated on the reservation.

Under the authority of Section 114 of the Indian Law, the Superintendent of State Police was recently given the authority and responsibility of establishing qualifications and training standards, and appointing members of the St Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department, in order for them to have general police powers. The appointed officers have all successfully completed the Municipal Police Training Council regimen applicable to all local police officers in New York State, as well as an extensive State Police background check, and have been determined by the Superintendent to be qualified, and of the good moral character necessary for police officers.


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