Policing Standing Rock

Sign at Standing Rock Indian ReservationThe Standing Rock Reservation is about 3.5 million square miles, part of which is in South Dakota and part in North Dakota. It currently has a population of about 8,000 to 9,000 people. As of the the implementation of Operation Dakota Peacekeeper, the reservation had 10 police officers. According to this article, that number was increased to 15 through the course of that operation. At the same time, a number of federal officers were added into the mix.

Now, despite the improvements that the additional funding brought (and making more than 1,000 arrests in a single 2-month period) it was not enough:

The Interior Department is sending 25 more law officers to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation . . . .

Last year, at one point, there were an additional 56 officers on the reservation. It is difficult keeping all of the numbers straight, but it would seem that there are now about 15 tribal police officers with perhaps another 20 BIA officers who are going to be supplemented by another 25 officers from Interior. This gives us a total of 60 police officers for a population of 9,000 people or one officer for every 150 people.

By comparison, the largest city in South Dakota (Sioux Falls) has a total of about 350 law enforcement officers. This includes city, county (Minnehaha), state,  and federal officers whose jurisdiction is the general Sioux Falls area. Some of these (particularly the state and federal ones) are also covering other areas, but we’ll ignore that for the time being. (At the same time, we’ll ignore LEO in nearby towns such as Brandon, Tea, etc).

Given a metropolitan statistical area of perhaps 250,000 being policed by about 350 officers of the law, we have one police officer for about every 714 people.

Comparing the ratios from the reservation to the city (and doing so loosely–since our numbers could use some tightening overall) we have 4 to 5 times the density of LEOs on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation as we do in Sioux Falls.

This would seem to speak to a substantial problem. Generally speaking, law enforcement is increased to address the symptoms of an underlying issue–rather than to prevent the issue in the first place.

I do not think it is out of place to state that the issue is one of the heart–since that is where each of us chooses either to do evil or to do good.