Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune announced today that the Department of Interior would be sending 25 additional law enforcement officers to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation until permanent Bureau of Indian Affairs officers (BIA) can be hired and trained.

“This is a necessary step for the safety and welfare of the people living on Standing Rock,” said Thune. “This is good news for Standing Rock, but other reservations in South Dakota and across the country are also in desperate need of law enforcement resources. Congress needs to pass the Tribal Law and Order Act and needs to fund the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health to address the long term needs of the reservations. This is progress and will be welcome news for those who call Standing Rock home, but we need to do more to make our reservations safer.”

The Tribal Law and Order Act includes a provision advocated by Senator Thune that would increase the maximum hiring age for BIA law enforcement officers from 37 years old to 47 years old. This would allow individuals who retire from military service to serve as tribal law enforcement officers.

In 2008, Senator Thune authored an amendment to a foreign assistance bill that created the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health, which authorizes $2 billion in funding for critical public safety, health care, and water needs in Indian Country. Although the Emergency Fund for Indian Safety and Health is authorized to spend up to $2 billion, Congress has not yet appropriated any money into the fund.

Senator Thune also requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study tribal court systems and ways they can be improved. GAO has officially begun the study and indicates that a report should be ready by the fall. Senator Thune also advocated a "surge" of law enforcement personnel on Standing Rock Sioux reservation that summer in order to address the rising crime problem, which resulted in a significant drop in crime.