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The Blackfeet Tribe and Glacier County recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to temporarily give Glacier County deputies authority to aid Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services (BLES) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agreement is valid for 60 days, effective May 11, 2020. According to the agreement, the Tribe and Glacier County Sheriff’s Office agreed “to increase police response when BLES is overwhelmed and in need of additional law enforcement assistance at the request of the Chief of Police or his delegate to the residents of the Blackfeet Reservation.”

The MOU was signed and agreed to by Glacier County, the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council and BLES. It was approved by Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.

According to Captain Tom Seifert, of the Glacier County Sheriff’s Office, there is always some limited reciprocal jurisdiction between BLES and the Glacier County Sheriff. But, for example, a BLES officer cannot issue a citation into Glacier County Justice Court. Normally, a Glacier County deputy cannot issue a citation into tribal court, either, but this MOU will temporarily change that.

According to the MOU, the purpose of the agreement is “facilitating and coordinating cooperative law enforcement services, addressing mutual law enforcement problems that transcend jurisdictional boundaries, and insure [sic] the prompt and effective delivery of law enforcement services to protect public health and safety within Glacier County, including the Blackfeet Reservation.”

“This allows [BLES] a little extra help, especially with summer coming on and tourists coming in, everyone is short on law enforcement,” Seifert said.

Despite attempts, no comment was available from BLES officials.

The agreement stipulates that Glacier County Sheriff’s Office “shall bear all lawful expenses for its deputies when deputies are working as special officers hereunder.”

The resolution to allow the MOU was adopted by the Tribe by a vote of 8-0, on April 8.

It was signed by the Glacier County Commission Chairman Michael DesRosier and Glacier County Sheriff Vernon “Napi” Billideaux on May 15 and formally approved and signed by Fox on May 21.

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