Rep. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, debating in favor of HB 111, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's policing legislation, told the House, “I've grown weary of the arguments I've heard about this for the past two or three years. The whole issue is just to provide proper law enforcement within the bounds of the reservation.” He said he found the continuing dispute “baffling,” and said, “I get bothered when I hear that the Indians are a sovereign nation and they already have too many benefits, don't give them more. I think that's a poor argument. You know, we're all Idahoans.”
Shirley said he was stunned to hear that the first question a dispatcher asks in Benewah County is whether the person calling in with an emergency is an Indian or non-Indian. That's just not right, he said. “This action now compromises safety, cost-effectiveness and just plain good neighborly co-existence.” The dispute, Shirley said, boils down to “prejudices and biases that are counter-productive to improved law enforcement. … Not only is it a safety issue for the officers, but I think it's a safety issue for the public as well.” He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a good bill, and it's time to resolve this issue. Please vote yes.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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