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Tribal Criminal Justice                                      

Debbie Anderson

DPSST has the pleasure of working with many of the American Indian Tribes whose borders lie within Oregon to provide training and certification for the public safety officers employed by the tribal governments. This includes training and certification for police officers, corrections officers, parole and probation officers, telecommunicators, and emergency medical dispatchers. This page is intended to provide information for tribal governments who wish to have their officers/dispatchers certified along with the requirements of having an established tribal law enforcement agency in compliance with Senate Bill 412 (2011).

Pursuant to 181A.510, tribal governments may have their full-time public safety officers obtain and maintain certification if the individual and tribal government comply with the applicable provisions of ORS 181A.355 to 181A.689. When an officer or dispatcher is certified by DPSST, that officer must remain in compliance with all the requirements of a public safety professional as detailed in OAR Chapter 259 Division 8. 

Apart from police officers employed by tribal agencies as authorized tribal police officers pursuant to ORS 181A.940 to 181A.946 (Senate Bill 412), there is no requirement for public safety professional certification of tribal public safety professionals; however, many of the tribes do have their officers and dispatchers certified.​

Tribal governments choosing to certify their public safety officers or dispatchers must first establish a police department with DPSST by completing the F10 Criminal Justice Agency Change Form. The F10 provides detailed instructions for agency wishing to establish.​

Senate Bill 412 provides tribal police departments the ability to designate their tribal police officers as “authorized” tribal police officers to have legal authority to enforce Oregon laws outside of tribal lands or outside of tribal civil or criminal jurisdiction.  For DPSST’s purposes, to be established as SB 412 compliant, tribal police departments must:
  • Be established as a police department as detailed above. (Agency establishment and SB 412 compliance can occur at the same time)
  • ​Submit a resolution declaring that the tribal government: 
    • Is self-insured or has purchased and maintains in force:
      • Public liability and property damage insurance for vehicles operated by authorized tribal police officers; and 
      • ​Police professional liability insurance from a company licensed to sell insurance in Oregon; and
    • ​​A declaration that the agency complied with the requirements of ORS 181A.940 to 181A.946
  • Submit a full copy of the public liability and property damage insurance for vehicles operated by the tribal government’s authorized tribal police officers and a full copy of the police professional liability insurance policy from a company licensed to sell insurance in this state or a description of the tribal government’s self-insurance program.​
NOTE:  Tribal governments must file a written description of all material changes to insurance policies or the tribal government’s self-insurance program with the Department within 30 days of the change.

SB412 authorized tribal police departments to employ “authorized” tribal police officers which have the ability to exercise the powers of, and to receive the same authority and protections provided to other law enforcement officers in Oregon. These authorized tribal police officers must obtain and maintain basic police officer certification pursuant to Oregon Administrative Rule Chapter 259, Division 8​.

Pursuant to ORS 181A.942(1)(d)(E) tribal agencies are required to follow the rules and regulations of the department related to age, background checks, psychological examinations and physical, intellectual, emotional, and moral fitness requirements adopted under ORS 181A.410 for all authorized tribal officers.

DPSST does not have the authority to collect information from tribal agencies relating to economic sanctions (ORS 181A.686) or duty to report (ORS 181A.681 (3)(c)).

To help ensure that the records maintained by DPSST under ORS 181A.944 are current, DPSST contacts each participating tribal government annually to verify continuing insurance coverage. DPSST provides the form F8a Yearly Affidavit for Tribal Law Enforcement Units to facilitate this process.