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Cross-Deputization Of Nez Perce Refused Idaho County Sheriff Meinen Says He Doesn’t Want The Responsibility

Idaho County Sheriff Gene Meinen has turned down the idea of cross-deputizing Nez Perce tribal police.

“When you cross-deputize, you assume responsibility for their action,” he said.

That is not a risk Meinen is willing to take, saying the responsibility for his own officers is plenty. He predicted Lewis and Clearwater counties will go the same way.

Such pacts allow officers to respond to calls on neighboring or overlapping jurisdictions.

The question of jurisdiction over non-tribal members on the Nez Perce reservation arose recently when tribal officers cited two nontribal members for traffic infractions and served them summonses to appear in tribal court.

The citations were later withdrawn.

Idaho, Lewis and Clearwater counties are members of the North Central Idaho Jurisdictional Alliance, a coalition of local governments that believes the tribe has no jurisdiction over activities of nontribal members on the reservation. The Nez Perce claim jurisdiction over civil matters.

Tribal Police Chief Tom Idol maintains his department has the authority to issue citations, but opted to pursue cross-deputization. Idol said the safety of the public and officers would benefit.

Nez Perce County Sheriff Randy Kingsbury said last week he is receptive to cross-deputization, but will not deputize any tribal officers until they are certified by the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training Academy.

Benewah County Sheriff Joe Blackburn has deputized officers of the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police and contends the agreement has worked well.