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New law gives tribal deputies off-reservation power
|Story posted Wed. 11:48 a.m.
In what’s being hailed as equality between state and tribal law officers, Governor Jim Doyle signed a bill that would equalize the power of law enforcement officers. Mike Simonson reports.
The new law gives deputies and wardens of the Great Lakes Indian and Wildlife Commission the same rights as other Wisconsin law enforcement officers. GLIFWC Director Jim Zorn says his officers are often first responders in emergencies, even off the reservation in the ceded territories of northern Wisconsin.
“The Chai Vang incident was one instance where our officers happened to be one of the first officers to arrive. There’ve been other situations where we’ve come across traffic accidents or helped take drunk drivers off the road or similar circumstances.” Zorn says the bill is proof that the state and tribes have come a long way since violence over treaty rights in the late 1980’s.
“The boat landings when tribal members were attempting to exercise their fishing rights. This bill is just one more step in the state of Wisconsin moving forward between the state and the tribes in the treaty rights arena. It’s an important recognition that GLIFWC’s officers are just as important as any other officers in the state.” Zorn says tribal officers have the same training requirements as off-reservation peace officers.