The Puyallup Tribal Law Enforcement division was established in an effort to provide protection to the fishermen and to uphold the regulations under the Fishing Code. They have evolved from a small number of untrained security guards into a highly trained, efficient, professional law enforcement division.
The Department is divided into two divisions. They are Fish & Wildlife and Land Enforcement.
They work cooperatively with other law enforcement agencies that surround the reservation. Currently, they have several cross commission agreements with other agencies. Fish & Wildlife enforces tribal fishing regulations for the lower Puget Sound, Puyallup River and several major creeks. They also enforce the shellfish regulations and the Gaming Code. Land Law Enforcement is responsible for the preservation of peace and welfare of the Puyallup reservation. They enforce tribal laws that govern the conduct of Indians within the reservation.
The Division also operates a detention facility to comply with orders from the Puyallup Tribal Court. This facility can house up to forty inmates. Other local tribes often request space and if possible these requests will be allowed.
The Tribal Police are required to complete the basic four month training program at the Police Academy, Artesia, New Mexico. They also complete the Washington State Training Commissions Law Enforcement Equivalency Academy.
Law Enforcement operates under the authority of the Puyallup Tribes’ Constitution & By-laws, Ordinances, and the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854. They also operate under the directive of the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs in accordance with Title 25, CFR, 13758, dated May 25, 1973.
The Law Enforcement Division currently employs a Director, several support staff; fourteen officers and eight correction officers. They also have five reserve officers. They operate 24 hours a day and are available at all times.
Puyallup Tribal Court
In the early 1970’s the Puyallup Tribal Council established a Tribal Court. Previous to the Court the Council had a group of respected Elders hold hearings and decide issues of a controversial nature. In this way there could be no question of bias or conflict of interest.
The fishing case, U.S vs Washington implied that the State of Washington would exercise jurisdiction over tribal fishermen, unless tribes had a court system and ordinances in place to hear and decide fishing issues. This prompted the Council, in order to protect and keep intact their Sovereign authority as a government, in exercising jurisdiction over its people, land, waters and recourses set up a tribal court.
Today there is a model tribal court system in place. The Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction over approximately thirty subject matter codes, including a broad scope of civil authority and final review authority in a multitude of administrative subject matter and procedural codes.
The Court is exercising it’s authority under a judicial Administrative Code. It is estimated that 32,000 Indians, representing 200 different tribes live in our service area. The Court handles everything from civil to criminal cases. They are located on the fifth floor of the main Administration building. There is a Chief Judge, Court Administrator, Court Clerk, Prosecutor, Public Defender and Guardian Ad Litem. Judge Pro-Temores and an Appellate Court are also available if called upon.