Politics & Government

Tribal cops can detain off their reservation

The Washington Supreme Court says tribal police can detain non-Indians outside a reservation's boundaries.

The court’s ruling was a reconsideration of an opinion it issued last year, in which it unanimously reached the same conclusion. This time, the judges split 6-3.

The majority said that under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot, it was OK for a Lummi Nation officer to pursue a suspected drunken driver beyond the reservation’s boundaries and detain her until Whatcom County deputies arrived.

The justices also said the stop was justified under the doctrine of “fresh pursuit,” which allows officers to cross jurisdictional lines when there’s a threat to life or property.

The minority said the treaty provided no such authority, and that “fresh pursuit” only applies to felonies. DUI is a gross misdemeanor.

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