Tribe and county sign mutual aid agreement
Tribune News Service
GARNDERVILLE, Nev. – Washoe Tribe and Douglas County officials have approved an agreement which expands the opportunities for law enforcement to offer mutual aid in both jurisdictions when requested.
The agreement was approved Feb. 4 by Douglas County commissioners and previously by the Washoe Tribal council.
Tribal Chairman Waldo Walker told the board the agreement had been negotiated for 21⁄2 years.
“Over the years, the relationship with the county and the tribe has always been strained. We went into this discussion with multiple meetings. After all the pushing and prodding, we got the language correct,” he said.
When he was elected chairman in 2006, Walker said he made it a priority to do what he could to clear up misunderstanding over cultural values.
“I always have one message: We’re not going to agree. We will probably butt heads, but we know where we’re coming from,” he said.
Sheriff Ron Pierini said he had been hoping for such an agreement for 16 years.
“Since 1994, we’ve been trying to develop an agreement with the tribe so we could assist them on tribal land and vice versa. It’s really been at an impasse for several years and the chairman did a great job working with us on this,” Pierini said.
Legal questions centered around jurisdiction and civil or criminal litigation if action were filed against any officers.
“My whole motive for this was that I feel if residents live on tribal land and there is an emergency and their police officers are tied up or under attack, our officers would have the ability to respond to that location to assist,” Pierini said. “We simply want to assist people who live in Douglas County no matter where they live, and now we do have that ability.”
The new three-year agreement replaces one that expired in 2007 and focused solely on the investigation and enforcement of drug crimes.
A crucial element of the new agreement is that the law enforcement agency must be invited to the jurisdiction. Requests for aid shall be made orally or in writing to the captain of the Washoe police department or the county sheriff.
“We want to help, we don’t want to interfere,” Pierini said. “We want to respect their rights and be held accountable.”
Pierini said the agreement is similar to mutual aid agreements with other law enforcement agencies like Carson City, South Lake Tahoe and Alpine and Mono counties.
“It’s a true mutual aid agreement,” said Assistant District Attorney Michael McCormick. “If they request our help or we request theirs, we can respond. It’s an important historic agreement in the sense that there is recognition on behalf of both parties that we live in the same community and can help each other. Everyone who lives here will benefit.”
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