FBI director to talk crime issues with ND tribal leaders
WILLISTON -- FBI Director James Comey will meet with tribal leaders on Monday at Fort Berthold, where U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp plans to push for greater federal law enforcement resources in Indian Country.
WILLISTON -– FBI Director James Comey will meet with tribal leaders on Monday at Fort Berthold, where U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp plans to push for greater federal law enforcement resources in Indian Country.
“I’ve been really discouraged by the level of awareness within the Department of Justice about the challenges we’re having in Indian country with violence and drug abuse,” Heitkamp, D-N.D., said Wednesday. “My big push has been to actually get FBI agents who live on the reservation.”
Comey, along with Heitkamp and U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., will meet with leaders of the Three Affiliated Tribes and tribal law enforcement on Monday in New Town.
Later Monday, Comey and the senators will participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new FBI facility in Williston, the first FBI resident agency to open in more than 20 years.
Heitkamp has said the Williston FBI office is a good first step in addressing the increase in crime that followed the region’s oil development. But she continues to push for permanent federal law enforcement resources for Indian Country, particularly at Fort Berthold, in the heart of the Bakken.
Heitkamp told Comey during a Senate hearing last October that Indian reservations are an easy place for criminals to hide “because jurisdictionally it’s a no man’s land.”
“We have huge and critical problems and the FBI, I think, is failing, certainly in my part of the world, in protecting Native American people.” Heitkamp told Comey during the hearing.
Heitkamp said Wednesday she doesn’t think the crime problems have lessened at Fort Berthold with the downturn in oil activity.
“They’ve gotten worse,” Heitkamp said. “I honestly believe the drug problem on the reservation is worse than it was two years ago.”