Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar asking for rapid implementation of a potential new law that would raise the maximum hiring age for federal law enforcement officials from 37 years of age to 47. Under the current law, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and other federal agencies are unable to hire former military personnel as law enforcement officers because the soonest a member of the military can retire with benefits is 38 years of age. An amendment to the Senate-passed Defense Authorization bill would change the maximum hiring age for federal law enforcement to 47 if enacted, which would allow the BIA to hire former military personnel.

"The shortage of law enforcement officers on our nation's reservations is a grave threat to public safety," said Thune. "If enacted, this change would enable retired military personnel, including many Native American veterans, to become law enforcement personnel. The BIA should prepare to act quickly to implement a new hiring program in anticipation that this provision is in the final Defense Authorization bill."

The House of Representatives and the Senate have each passed versions of the Defense Authorization bill. The two versions will be reconciled by a conference committee, and the resulting bill will be sent to President Obama for his consideration.

The text of Senator Thune's letter follows:

August 6, 2009

The Honorable Ken Salazar
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar:

The lack of public safety and justice that is present on many of our nation's reservation is a serious problem that I have actively been working to find solutions for and I appreciate all of the interest you have expressed in addressing this issue since your confirmation. As such, I am writing to bring your attention to Senate Amendment #1739, which was accepted as part of S. 1390, the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.

As I noted in my last letter to you, one of the many challenges associated with tribal public safety is the difficulty of hiring qualified Bureau of Indian Affair's (BIA) law enforcement officers. Specifically, the statutorily mandated maximum hiring age of federal law enforcement, which is set at 37, limits recruitment, including retired military personnel. Amendment #1739, which is enclosed for your convince, would alleviate this problem by raising the maximum hiring age for all federal law enforcement officials, including BIA officers, to 47.

It is very likely that this noncontroversial amendment will be included in the final version of the Defense Authorization Act that is currently being negotiated by the House/Senate Conferees Conference. Unless modified in Conference deliberations, Amendment #1739 would take effect 60 days after the Defense Authorization Act was signed into law. Therefore, I am respectfully requesting that the BIA begin to prepare for implementation of an increase in the maximum hiring age for law enforcement officers so that the benefits of this change can be felt as soon as possible. I am hopeful that this simple amendment will help to alleviate some of the BIA law enforcement officer shortages that currently exist throughout much of Indian County.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter, and I look forward to hearing from you about how the BIA plans to prepare for this change. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kindest regards,

United States Senator