Legislation that would ensure the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police can continue to patrol and make arrests in the Bombay Triangle passed the State Senate Tuesday.
Senator Betty Little, R-Queensbury, sponsored the measure. A companion bill carried by Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, passed the Assembly earlier today.
“The goal of this legislation is to ensure public protection in the Bombay Triangle,” Little said. “Without this measure, the tribal police would not have authority to police this area as they have done successfully for the past two years.”
New York Indian Law enacted in 2005 granted the superintendent of state police the authority to certify members of the St. Regis Police Department with state-recognized police officer powers on reservation lands.
Although regularly patrolled by state-certified St. Regis Tribal officers, courts have held that the grant of police authority to the St. Regis officers did not include the Bombay Triangle.
“Prior to the law enacted in 2015, arrests in the Bombay Triangle for crimes including DWI and drug smuggling were dismissed by courts, which cited the tribal police’s lack of jurisdiction,” Little said. “This new law would remove that issue and makes it permanent by removing the sunset date.”
Little said the legislation does nothing to resolve the ongoing dispute between New York State and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, but would provide a stop-gap measure that would effectively solve a vulnerability problem in the public security structure in this area.
The bill will be returned from the Senate to the Assembly before being sent to the governor for consideration.