Lake County Wants to Stop Prosecuting Reservation Felonies

Sheriff's office says such a move wouldn't save any money

By Tristan Scott

POLSON — Lake County commissioners say the county can no longer afford to investigate and prosecute felony crimes on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday in support of a resolution to ask the state to consider withdrawing from an agreement that gives counties jurisdiction over felonies on reservations. They hope the move will prompt the federal government to help cover some of the $2 million annual cost.

Commissioner Dave Stipe says he thinks it would cost the federal government less to help the county than to have federal agents to do the work.

The Lake County sheriff’s office wants to continue the agreement, saying a change won’t save any money because deputies would still have to respond to reported crimes.

Tribal Police Chief Craig Couture said such a move would allow murders, rapes and drug cases to fall through the cracks.

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