OLYMPIA — The Washington state Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that tribal police can pursue non-Indian motorists outside a reservation if they see a traffic infraction on tribal lands.
Thursday’s ruling says that under state law, tribal police can go beyond their jurisdiction if they’re in a “fresh pursuit,” or if there’s an immediate threat to life or property.
The case stems from an August 2005 incident, when a Lummi Nation officer pursued a suspected drunken driver but didn’t stop her until they were outside reservation boundaries.
The tribal officer held Loretta Eriksen until a Whatcom County sheriff’s deputy arrived to arrest her. Eriksen was later convicted of drunken driving, but challenged whether the tribal officer made a legal stop.