Funds sought for cops in Whiteclay

Published June 10, 2005
BY CELESTE CALVITTO
RAPID CITY JOURNAL

WASHINGTON — A community policing program aimed at dealing with the fallout from alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Neb., to American Indians from nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is on track for more federal funding, Rep. Stephanie Herseth, D-S.D., said Thursday.

Herseth and Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., have requested $100,000 to provide continued support for the project, in which the state of Nebraska will deputize members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe police to patrol Whiteclay.

Whiteclay is adjacent to the southern border of Pine Ridge. Alcohol is banned on the reservation.

In a letter to the House Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce, Osborne and Herseth said, “Whiteclay, with a population of 27, consists of three liquor stores that sell more then $4 million in alcohol a year, primarily to Native Americans from the Pine Ridge Reservation. … Public drunkenness, drunken driving, fights and other forms of crime are common. Alcoholism and negligence on the part of law enforcement are the main culprits.”

Herseth said the House Appropriations Committee has passed a bill containing what is known as “soft earmarks” for the Whiteclay project. Although there is no specific funding level attached to the program at this point, there is “a placeholder to receive funding in the bill that will be specifically outlined once it goes to conference,” she said.

Herseth said that in last year’s spending bill, Osborne took the lead in securing an initial $100,000 in funding while there was a vacancy in South Dakota’s House seat.

“He is concerned about the businesses in Whiteclay that sell liquor,” Herseth said. “He shared those concerns with me about the situation.”

The funds are aimed at helping to stop the sale of alcohol that violates Nebraska state law, document violations of liquor licenses and “halt the transport of alcohol from Whiteclay onto the Pine Ridge Reservation, which violates tribal law,” Herseth and Osborne said in their letter requesting the additional funding.

Osborne and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning recently went to a meeting of tribal leaders in Pine Ridge to discuss the project, Herseth said.

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