AKWESASNE -- The New York State Legislature has passed bills expanding the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department’s jurisdiction.
The Assembly and Senate overwhelming voted in favor of legislation that extends the tribal police jurisdiction to an area known as the “Hogansburg (Bombay) Triangle,” according to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru, sponsored the Assembly version. It passed 148-0 on June 9. Senator Betty Little, R-Queensbury, sponsored the Senate version. It passed 62-1 on June 15, the tribe said.
“This is good news for the tribal police that enhances their law enforcement capabilities for the safety of our community members and travelers,” Chief Ron LaFrance said. “The bill recognizes the need to extend their powers certified by the Superintendent of State Police to an area we have always considered part of Akwesasne.”
Prior to the bill, court cases involving impaired driving, drugs and other criminal offenses have been dismissed due to a jurisdictional dilemma. Indian law S114 limits tribal police authority to the state-recognized boundary of the reservation that the state contends does not include the Hogansburg Triangle. Akwesasne’s main travel route, state Route 37, passes directly through the triangle-shaped area, which state troopers have not traditionally patrolled, the tribe said.
The tribe considers the boundary for the southern portion of the Akwesasne community to be historically intact as a rectangular shape. As a result, the bill now extends tribal police authority to include Hogansburg and makes their jurisdiction of the community’s southern portion as one complete area, the tribe said.
“Our people will be safer through this ‘stop-gap’ measure that addresses our community’s vulnerability concerns and sovereign interests,” noted Tribal Chief Paul Thompson. “It respects tribal sovereignty through a unique arrangement between the Tribal Police Department and the State Police that recognizes the need to have Mohawk police officers patrol our territory.”
The expansion is effective until Sept. 1, 2017. At that time, the Legislature can renew the law to extend the police department’s jurisdiction, based on results. The tribe says they are finalizing land claim negotiations with Franklin County and New York state that will recognize the area as reservation land.
“The tribe appreciates the support that the legislation received from the New York State Legislature,” Chief Beverly Cook said. “We particularly want to thank Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and Senator Betty Little for sponsoring a bill that enhances the safety of local residents and travelers in the Akwesasne community.”