Tackling the Tribal Public Safety Crisis

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Tackling the Tribal Public Safety Crisis


By: Governor Kristi Noem

May 31, 2024


I have a deep sense of compassion and respect for our Native American population here in South Dakota. And I firmly believe that we solve problems best when we work together and communicate.


This is why I have made it a priority to call attention to the public safety crisis on our tribal reservations.


The smuggling of drugs and trafficking of humans into sex slavery across our Southern Border has increased dramatically because of President Biden’s open border policies. The criminals committing these acts have found a haven on South Dakota’s tribal reservations and impact all families who live in our state. The responsibility for upholding law and order on tribal reservations lies with the tribal government and the federal government. As Governor I have no jurisdiction on tribal reservations. But, just like the warzone at our Southern Border, Joe Biden is turning his back on our tribal communities.


In turn, I have taken unprecedented action to help South Dakota’s tribes. The immediate challenge is a huge shortage of law enforcement officers. I have urged the Biden Administration to adequately fund tribal law enforcement. I’ve also pushed for comprehensive, transparent, public audits to determine exactly what that need is.


It quickly became clear that we needed to continue to take matters into our own hands when it comes to helping our tribes. That’s why I launched a tribal-focused law enforcement training course in partnership with Attorney General Marty Jackley. This is the first training course of its kind in the country, and it will allow our officers to receive their training without having to leave their families for an extended period of time.


I also announced that I will be hosting a Tribal Public Safety Crisis Summit in Pierre on Monday, June 24th. I have invited a number of elected leaders and law enforcement officials at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels to join us. It is my hope that this Summit will allow us to start an important conversation and get the ball rolling towards real solutions.


We will proudly celebrate the 100th anniversary of Native America citizenship on June 2nd. I will continue working to improve life not only for our tribal members, but all South Dakotans. Those efforts will include our Stronger Families Together initiative. It is important for Native American foster children to grow up in a home that reflects their culture and heritage. With Stronger Families Together, we are prioritizing recruiting more Native American foster families across our state. Tragically, suicide disproportionately impacts Native American communities. I am constantly working with many of our state agency to disseminate suicide prevention information.


One of the best things we can do is join in mutual aid agreements with our tribes. These agreements allow State law enforcement to work with tribes to enforce tribal law, help those in need on our reservations, and combat the public safety crisis we see across our state. I have repeatedly urged all nine of South Dakota’s Native American tribes to join in mutual aid agreements with the State of South Dakota, and I will continue to encourage them to do so.


I remain open to any additional solutions that others may propose to address this serious crisis. Through these efforts and collaborations, I am confident we can continue moving forward and building a stronger future for South Dakota.