June 21, 2007

Committee Will Conduct Oversight Hearing on Law Enforcement in Indian Country

Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) will conduct the second in a series of oversight hearings on law enforcement in Indian Country at 9:30 AM Thursday, June 21.
The hearing will examine the state of law enforcement in Indian Country from a tribal and individual Indian perspective. Part of the focus will be the “jurisdictional maze” of Indian Country law enforcement as it has been adversely affected, in most cases, by Federal law and court cases.
Addressing the issue of a law enforcement jurisdiction in 55 million acres of Indian Country, in addition to the severe lack of funding for tribal law enforcement operations and facilities for 191 tribal law enforcement programs, will allow critical issues in Indian Country to be addressed.
Some of these critical issues include a 69% unmet staffing need in tribal law enforcement, a lack of sufficient detention facilities and a need to address crime rates in the areas of domestic violence and the rising methamphetamine epidemic.
Tribal officials, legal experts and victims’ rights advocates are scheduled to testify about law enforcement practices and priorities in Indian Country.
Among those who will testify is Thomas Heffelfinger, a former U.S. Attorney from Minnesota. Hefflefinger’s name was on the list compiled for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales of U.S. Attorneys to be fired.
In Senate testimony earlier this year, Gonzales aide Monica Goodling said Heffelfinger’s name was on the list because of concern at the Justice Department that he was spending “too much time” on Indian issues. Hefflefinger resigned before he was fired.