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Trainees at the South Dakota Law Enforcement Training Center. (Courtesy of SD Attorney General’s Office)

South Dakota’s first-ever tribal law enforcement course

PIERRE, S.D. – Thirteen tribal law enforcement recruits have signed up for the state’s first-ever tribal law enforcement-specific training session starting June 3 in Pierre.

The trainees are from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe and Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, according to the state Attorney General’s Office. The rest of the 24-member class will consist of 11 officers from non-tribal law enforcement agencies.

Gov. Kristi Noem and Attorney General Marty Jackley announced their plan for the course in April, responding to calls from some tribes for training options closer to home.

Most officers in reservation communities are expected to attend a 13-week training session at the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Indian Police Academy in Artesia, New Mexico. Tribal officers can and do get trained in South Dakota, but there are limited slots available, and even those who complete state training are expected to spend two weeks in Artesia afterward.

For the new course, Bureau of Indian Affairs officials have agreed to come to South Dakota to offer a shortened version of that two-week portion of the training.

The new 13-week course in South Dakota will be at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, allowing tribal officers to go home on the weekends. Graduation is scheduled for Sept 3 in Pierre.

“We thank Gov. Noem for her support of this training session, and our tribes for trusting us with their officers,” Jackley said in a news release. “Training tribal officers alongside state and local officers serving near our reservations strengthens relationships, increases consistency and makes sense for South Dakota.”

Class members are required to complete course work in the law, arrest control tactics, firearms, vehicle handling and criminal investigations. The program is taught by full-time staff from the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and adjunct instructors from law enforcement agencies across the state. U.S. Attorney Alison Ramsdell has also provided instructors.

The development of the course comes amid a period of heightened tension between Noem and tribal leaders. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe said Tuesday that a ban of Noem from its lands “is imminent,” which would make it the ninth of nine tribal governments in the state to endorse banning the governor.

The bans are in response to repeated comments from Noem alleging Mexican drug cartel activity on reservations, claiming tribal leaders are “personally benefitting” from cartels, and saying children on reservations “don’t have any hope” because “they don’t have parents who show up and help them.”

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