13 Chickasha police officers can now force tribal law on Native American suspects

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CHICKASHA, Okla. (KFOR) – The Bureau of Indian Affairs is putting a new plan into action for police officers in Indian territory.

It comes nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling.

More than a dozen Chickasha police officers were sworn into the Special Law Enforcement Commission Friday, making sure they’ll be able to handle tribal cases.

“It allows these officers to enforce federal law and travel law,” said Brian Stark with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The sworn-in officers can now file cases federally when an incident involves members of Indian tribes.

Last July, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision, ruling half of Oklahoma is technically still Indian territory and that the state had been prosecuting cases outside of its jurisdiction for more than a century.

Over the last few months, the tribes have been working to re-file cases so they can be tried in federal court.

Chickasha sits in what was originally Choctaw nation, making any crimes that happen there a matter for tribal courts.

The police department’s new commission will now allow officers to file cases federally. This takes the next step in compliance with challenging legal decisions.

It will also change the landscape of law enforcement in the Chickasaw Nation and the Indian territories of Oklahoma.

“It allows them to force federal law under the major crimes act. It allows them to force tribal law on Native American suspects,” said Stark.

Tribes do have their own law enforcement officers. However, this commission will allow police to handle cases involving both victims and suspects.

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