What used to be thought of an urban problem has invaded Indian reservations. And the reservations have few resources to deal with them.
Details of gang crimes emerged from tribal leaders testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee this week.
The AP reports:
At the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, 39 gangs have led to thousands of gang-related police calls. At the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, in eastern Washington state, two predominantly Mexican gangs and four tribal gangs battle for territory.
Pine Ridge leaders detailed the problem they face:
We need more officers and we need them now," said Hermis John Mousseau, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council at Pine Ridge. "We have 5,000 gang members, but we also have 45,000 scared law abiding people whose lives I have sworn to protect."The Argus Leader provides further details on what law enforcement faces at Pine Ridge in a few weeks' time:
In South Dakota, Mousseau said his police department of 48 officers — 12 per shift — must patrol a reservation the size of Rhode Island. Many of their police calls are 50 to 60 miles apart, leaving their response time to an hour for even the most violent acts. Many calls go unanswered.
The cases are hardly routine. Pine Ridge has battled an influx of drugs from Minneapolis, Denver and Omaha, Neb., Mousseau said.
A police officer with the Oglala Sioux Tribe shot and killed a gang member who attacked her on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota two weeks ago. Last weekend, reservation police responded to three separate gang-related crimes - a shooting, a stabbing and a brutal beating. On Tuesday, another officer shot a gang member who came at him with a knife.