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October 21, 2020
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October 21, 2020
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November 1, 2020

NEWS

Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Police Protect and Serve

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Police Department is committed to upholding law and order on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation. Above from left, Wildlife Conservation Officer Talon Shipshee, Community Resource Officer Josh Peters, SORNA Coordinator John Hurla, Detective Michael Holte and Police Chief Terry Clark.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Police Department is committed to protecting and serving the people of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. Commonly referred to as Tribal PD, this department has a strong connection to the community.

First off, the department has a duty to provide law and order enforcement on the Prairie Band reservation. However, jurisdiction on the reservation may seem confusing to the uninitiated. The Tribal PD enforces three sets of laws: tribal, state and federal. Each officer is required to learn the law at all three levels and is equipped with a matrix on how to apply laws.

The State of Kansas recognizes the Nation’s law enforcement agency and therefore the Tribal PD has the authority to uphold state law on the reservation regardless of citizen status (tribal or non-tribal.) Tribal members are prosecuted through tribal court and non-tribal members are prosecuted through state courts, however, if an infraction is a misdemeanor or above, action will be processed through a state court. Federal statutes also allow Tribal PD to send cases to the federal level for prosecution as needed.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation retains complete civil jurisdiction, but due to the 1940’s Kansas Act, the Jackson County Sheriff’s department also has concurrent criminal jurisdiction on the reservation. Also due to the Kansas Act, double jeopardy does not apply on the reservation for tribal members meaning a tribal member can be tried in tribal, state and federal court for the same infraction.

Covering the 11-by-11 mile reservation are 12 sworn police officers including Tribal Police Chief Terry Clark, along with four dispatchers, and five support staff, which includes Motor Vehicle personnel Micki Martinez, and Wild Life Conservation officer Talon Shipshee, both PBPN tribal members.

Chief Clark assumed his role in October 2018 and has brought a vision of increased accountability and transparency to the department. Chief Clark has focused on revising department policies to keep them up to par with best practices, along with submitting a 3-year strategic plan to the Tribal Council for approval. Once approved, Tribal PD intends to share the plan with the community increasing transparency.

Chief Clark has also applied for $2.7 million in grant funding to update infrastructure in the way of a building addition and additional staffing needs. Historically, law enforcement departments grow with the demographics of their communities. With the recent expansion of the Prairie Band Casino and Resort and added housing units on the reservation, there is a need for more staff. Ideally, the department would like to add a special victims assistant, juvenile intake officer, court security officer, an investigator, and two more officers.

The department was recently awarded an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) which will cover the cost of replacing the 14-year old radios currently in use to new 30 amp units with 10 times more functionality. The department is also working on securing funding in order to obtain new bullet-proof vests.

The next major goal of the department is to bring 911 services to the reservation. Right now when residents of the reservation dial 911 they are directed to county services and the sheriff’s department will respond. By instituting a tribal 911, residents within the boundary of the reservation would have tribal responders. The addition of 911 services on the reservation could lead to the hiring of at least 4 more dispatchers.

The PBP Tribal PD also offers initiatives aimed at the youth, prevention, and community education. Each year the department hosts an annual open house allowing the community to meet officers and check out the police facility. The department has also sponsored National Night Out events, which are geared toward promoting strong police-community partnerships, ultimately leading to a safer reservation.

For the past two summers, local youth have had the opportunity to participate in the grant-funded Tribal PD Youth day camp. The camp is one-week long and provides participants with many hands-on experiences such as learning how to be a detective, using simulation goggles, visiting the police and fire stations and for fun, the children go fishing and attend a Kansas City Royal’s baseball game.

Three times a year the department offers a Hunter Safety Course, with classes at a 100% participation rate. The department is also able to provide free car seats to tribal members through grant funding and will be distributing another 150 seats this year.

In December 2018, the department sponsored a sealed bid vehicle auction consisting of 14 different vehicles. Tribal elders and veterans were given the first chance to place bids, then after one week, the general public was allowed to bid on remaining inventory. Over $22,000 was raised through the event.

In January 2019, the department became the lead agency for a local SAFE Kids Coalition. Tribal PD has partnered with the local school districts in the county, the Prairie Band Health Center along with the Holton hospital, the Holton Police Department and many other agencies within the Jackson County Area. The focus of Safe Kids is childhood injury prevention. The programming is available for any child, native or otherwise, in Jackson County from birth to 18 years of age. SAFE Kids, is lead by SORNA Coordinator John Hurla, and their first community outreach event will feature a Safe Sleep presentation.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Police Department is located at 16344 Q Road, Mayetta, Kansas. Dispatch can be reached at 785-966-3024 or visit www.pbpindiantribe.com/law-enforcement/ for more information.