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North Dakota approves plan to host specialized BIA training

September 4, 2020 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Federal officials have approved a plan to conduct specialized training at Camp Grafton in North Dakota for Bureau of Indian Affairs officers, and though a tribal chairman welcomed the news, he also said much more needs to be done to improve staffing and policing on reservations.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven announced Thursday that the training at the North Dakota National Guard facility in Devils Lake will be funded with $2.5 million. The move comes after a hearing last year in which tribal leaders urged BIA officials to provide more law enforcement resources and advocate for a local BIA training facility to better recruit officers.

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Hoeven said the training “will help provide important skills to BIA law enforcement officers so they are better able to serve our tribal communities, and represents an important commitment from BIA in advancing our goal of establishing a full-fledged training facility at Camp Grafton.”

Mark Fox, the chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, told The Bismarck Tribune that he hopes the BIA training will help address problems with staffing and policing on reservations.

“When you’re paying somebody $17, $18, $19 an hour to risk their lives where crime is exponential, where their exposure to everything from the pandemic to everything else that’s going on ... and the violence that is greater on reservations, you know that’s not much more than serving, delivering pizzas in Minot,” he said.

The training is expected to begin in the fall, with advanced courses in areas such as drug investigations, missing and murdered Indigenous people, and the Bridge Program, which enables officers with local or state training to become federally certified, according to Hoeven.

The Department of Interior did not immediately respond to a request for additional details on the scope of the training and how it will be handled.