News Article on Possible Cross-Dep between GTB and Grand Traverse County

From local TV:

Grand Traverse County could be getting new officers, but without hiring any new ones. It’s part of a cross deputization proposal from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. What are the implications and how might it give a boost to the sheriff’s department budget?

The details are tonight’s Fact Finder Report.

We may all live in northern Michigan, but a complicated past has left some of us in different legal territory.

John Petoskey, General Council for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians says, “Because of the history of the relationship between tribes in the U.S. tribes do not have criminal jurisdiction over non tribe members and the state does not have criminal jurisdiction over tribal members.”

One aspect of that relationship may be changing.

The Grand Traverse Band and Grand Traverse County are discussing a cross deputization agreement.

Petoskey says, “What the cross deputization agreement would provide is the ability of the officer on the ground to make the arrest and sort out who has jurisdiction the next day.”

Right now if there’s a non tribal member breaks the law on property owned by the tribe, like Turtle Creek Casino, right now tribal officers can kick them off the property for trespassing, but that’s about it.

Petoskey says, “If we had a cross deputization agreement the tribe would be acting as deputies of Grand Traverse County to affect the arrest. The prosecution would still take place in Grand Traverse County though.”

Currently the Grand Traverse Band has similar agreements in 4 area counties; Charlevoix, Antrim, Benzie and Leelanau counties. He says those agreements are each for a number of years, but can be rescinded with a 30 day notice. And tribal leaders are using that model as the proposal for Grand Traverse County.

But why is Grand Traverse County the only county in the greater Grand Traverse Region without this kind of agreement?

You might blame it on previous administrations.

Petoskey says, I don’t want to speculate about the political positions of previous prosecutors or sheriff’s, we have consistently presented this alternative to Grand Traverse County.”

Sheriff Bensley says, “I don’t know, it’s been talked about for some time and they approached us so we’re looking into it. We want to know is it good for us, would it be good for them?”

And there is more to the story. The Grand Traverse Band is also offering to rent 5 beds in the Grand Traverse Jail on a yearly basis, whether or not they need them and pay the county almost $64,000.

And the sheriff says that money could go toward hiring a deputy.

Sheriff Bensley says, “one of the things we may consider is instead of renting space in the jail would be to use that money to possibly hire another officer which would be able to be assigned to that area where the tribal properties are to assist not only us but assist the Grand Traverse Band to investigate complaints on their property which is primarily the casino in Williamsburg.”

So where does this stand? Grand Traverse County is taking a closer look at the proposal, but there is no timetable in place.