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Law enforcement ties may aid tribes

August 07, 2007

Re "Beyond the law," Opinion, Aug. 3

I have had considerable experience in dealing with law enforcement agencies having jurisdiction over reservations. That experience suggests that establishing a working relationship with local law enforcement may be the key. That sometimes gives gaming tribes an advantage. Often tribes hire former law enforcement personnel in a security force, or in the tribal gaming commission that regulates the casino. Such individuals typically have established relationships with the county sheriff's office or local police. As a result, crimes committed at the casino (and against the tribe) can and, in my experience, have been prosecuted. Moreover, many tribes with economic resources support local law enforcement.

Unfortunately, poorer tribes may not have the structure or resources to have established such relationships. The resulting disparity demonstrates that economic as well as racial factors may play a part in the reactions of law enforcement to crimes committed on reservations against Native Americans.

That disparity between the richer and poorer may be a tragic reality of modern society.

Gene R. Gambale

Palm Desert

The writer is an attorney who has represented tribes from the inception of major tribal casino gaming in California.

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