Conservation enforcement officers for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community will now enforce game and trespassing laws on tribal lands and be able to partner with Scott County authorities on emergency calls, according to a recent agreement.
The newly licensed Mdewakanton Conservation and Enforcement Agency signed a joint powers agreement last week with the Scott County sheriff's office and police departments in Prior Lake and Shakopee. After the County Board approved the agreement, both city councils also passed it without discussion.
SMSC officers can now cite anyone for hunting and fishing violations on tribal land. Criminal offenses on SMSC land will still be handled by the Scott County sheriff's office, Prior Lake police and Shakopee police.
Conservation officers are also now authorized to assist or request mutual aid during emergency calls such as traffic accidents. The officers may also serve in a support role for domestic disputes, property crimes or other criminal complaints, according to an SMSC spokeswoman.
"So much of what we do is about partnerships and this is a step in the right direction," Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate said. "It's nice to know that if our officers are out in the area and need help, there's more help that will be around."
SMSC conservation officers may stop, detain and transport people when responding to a request for assistance in the county, according to the agreement.
The SMSC signed a joint powers agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in July to establish the Mdewakanton Conservation and Enforcement Agency. Its three conservation enforcement officers are licensed by the state and are subject to state data practice laws.
According to the SMSC, it contributes roughly $770,000 each year to Prior Lake's and Shakopee's police departments and the Scott County sheriff's office for services on the reservation. Both Shakopee and Prior Lake will continue to have liaison officers there. Shakopee's police department dedicated a part-time officer to serve that role in 2013 and Prior Lake has had one since 1993.
The SMSC also has long-standing aid agreements with fire departments in Prior Lake and Shakopee.
Under federal law, civil violations on reservations are processed in tribal court but criminal offenses fall under states' jurisdictions. Anyone arrested for a crime on SMSC land is booked into the Scott County jail and all criminal cases are prosecuted by the county's attorney.
Beyond checking for hunting and fishing licenses on SMSC land, the tribal conservation officers also handle cases like on- and off-sale liquor ordinances, dangerous animals, labor relations and ATV/off-highway motorcycle use.
"Our conservation officers represent a mutually beneficial addition to law enforcement on public lands," SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig said in a statement.