After 20 years of planning and preparation, the new Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Justice Center is finally a reality!
The seeds for the new Center were planted when $4 million was set aside under the Tribal Water Settlement Agreement in the early 1990s. Even back then, the police and court facilities were in dire need of repair and updating. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has consistently put the Tribes on notice that its police facilities are not up to standard and should be condemned. But because the federal government never provided us with any funds for new buildings, the Tribes finally took it upon themselves to take out a $16 million loan in 2008 to build the new center.
The Tribes were put between a rock and hard place because we did not have the funds to build new facilities, nor would the BIA provide funding to help. We later learned that part of the difficulty in obtaining BIA funding was due to the misperception that, because Idaho is a PL280 state, the tribes receive state funding for law enforcement services. This is simply not true, The Tribes have worked hard to correct this misperception in order to get adequate support from the BIA for the Justice Center. We were fortunate that, in the last year, law enforcement in Indian Country has become a priority with the Obama Administration and Congress. In June, I had the honor of testifying before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009. As a member of the House Interior Appropriations Committee, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson learned of the dire law enforcement needs throughout Indian Country and made a special visit to tour our Justice Center in August, We are grateful to Representative Simpson and the entire Idaho Congressional Delegation for their support in helping us to secure an acceptable level of BIA funding to staff and manage the Center. The Tribes still remain hopeful that the center can be designated as a regional detention facility by the BIA.
Part of our plan, and a selling point for the center, is to make the detention side more than just a jail. The vast majority of Native Americans are in jails for things they've done under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The Fort Hall Business Council feels strongly that the juvenile corrections facility needs to have strong education and treatment components so that incarcerated youth have an opportunity, to change their ways and, we pray, to not become part of the prison pipeline.
At the risk of leaving someone out, I will not specifically name everyone who has helped in bringing the Justice Center to reality. However, on behalf of the Fort Hall Business Council, I want to extend my sincere gratitude to past tribal council members, tribal staff, contractors, and BIA officials who brought us to where we are today. The council is also appreciative of the community for their patience and support in getting our police, detention, and court functions under one roof. Please take the time to visit our new Justice Center during the Feb. 16 dedication and grand opening, and join us as we recommit to a safe community for all.
Alonzo A. Coby, Chairman - (Former) Fort Hall Business Council
Justice Center to benefit Fort Hall Police Department
By Roselynn Wahtomy Sho-Ban News
FORT HALL – Patrick B. Teton, chief of police, says the Fort Hall Police Department staff is excited about the move to the Justice Center. Teton began interim chief of police in May 2009 officially being hired on permanently on September 4.
His chief of police job duties call for him to administer law enforcement services within the jurisdiction of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Fort Hall Indian Reservation, in compliance with rules, regulations policies and procedures set forth within 25 C.F.R. for law enforcement, 18 U.S.C., current BIAM, Tribal Law and Order Code, Tribal Ordinances and relevant federal or state statues. In addition to overseeing a staff of 40 members that comprise divisions of administration, patrol, criminal investigation, corrections, dispatch evidence and records.
Teton's previous work titles include juvenile probation officer, juvenile officer, criminal investigator, criminal investigation supervisor, Probation/Parole Officer and Emergency Manager. Teton graduated from Blackfoot High School and he received his bachelors in social work with a minor in sociology from Utah State University. Since coming on Teton and the department have been taking on the task of preparing for the Justice Center move. Most recently they have been interviewing potential employees to fulfill the new justice center positions of patrol officers, criminal investigation, telecommunication technicians, patrol sergeant, receptionist, and secretary, the positions are contingent upon funding from the BIA.
Teton explains the move to the Justice Center will benefit each of the following divisions: Patrol, Telecommunication, Criminal Investigation, Records, Evidence, Corrections and Administration by enabling each division to conduct business more effectively. The Patrol Division will have a main office with eight workstations for officers to complete reports. There will be two offices for the patrol sergeants to conduct administrative duties with the patrol officers and meet with citizens. The Telecommunication Division will benefit from three workstations as opposed to the two workstations that they now operate. There will be a bathroom for the staff and an office for the telecommunication sergeant to conduct administrative duties with their staff.
The Criminal Investigation Division will benefit from interview rooms in the justice center and a conference room all built with audio and video capabilities. The criminal investigation supervisor will have his own office to conduct administrative activities with staff. Records Division will be on the first floor and will benefit from the new space saver files, which will enable them to assist the community easier with records requests. Evidence Division will benefit from new space saver shelving and a fuming tank for finger printing.
The evidence technician will have an office to help with administrative duties. Administration Division will be located on the top floor and will be accessible to the community in the event community members have questions or concerns. The Corrections Department will benefit from the move to the Justice Center with the state of the art equipment. There will be two control centers that will control the entire jail area. There will be 74 cameras, which can be seen from the control center.
There will be a section of the jail for work release inmates. There will be two entirely separate housing areas for adults and juvenile inmates. There will be separate classrooms on each side of the jail area for educational opportunities for both adult and juvenile inmates. The Justice Center on the law enforcement side will have a training room for law enforcement to conduct training for staff, other departments, and the community. There is a workout room for law enforcement staff. There will be two conference rooms, one upstairs and one down stairs for meetings for staff.
Teton states, "The Fort Hall Police Department is looking forward to the move over to the Justice Center. It will provide opportunity for more effective and efficient law enforcement services for the Fort Hall community."
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