U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Policing on American Indian Reservations (Revised September 2001)

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2001
98 pages
Publication Series
This study takes a broad look at policing in Indian Country.
The study is an attempt to better understand the many arrangements for administering reservation police departments, to develop an initial assessment of the challenges facing Indian policing, and to identify policing strategies and approaches that might be successful in responding to the growing crime problem in Indian Country. It also evaluates the prospects for community policing in Indian Country. Research for this study included a literature review, visits to several Indian police departments and the Indian Police Academy in New Mexico, a two-part survey to Indian police departments, and intensive site visits to four reservations. The study demonstrates that reservation police confront significant crime problems and an array of related social concerns. They struggle under the pressures of limited resources, answer to multiple authorities, and function within a complicated jurisdictional web. Departments frequently operate without strategic direction from their tribal governments and lack methods for communicating directly with their service population, deficiencies that limit their knowledge of and ability to address community goals. The study concludes that community policing provides a framework that tribes might use to design and implement Native approaches to policing, approaches that should improve the quality of policing in Indian Country and, rather than perpetuate an inappropriate Federal structure, enhance tribal nation building. In that regard, it recommends that the Federal government pursue a more fully developed and more cohesive policy of self-determination in Indian policing. Notes, tables, figures, references, appendixes

Date Published: September 1, 2001