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Sheriff Tells TGB He Will Instruct His Deputies to Refer Non-Criminal Cases to LCO Police

By Joe Morey

News Editor


On Nov. 25, the Tribe and the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department renewed their annual Law Enforcement Agreement for 2021, and one significant change was the implementation of a system to insure that all non-criminal citations issued within the LCO Reservation exterior boundary would be processed through LCO Tribal Court rather than the county court system.


This past week the Sheriff met with the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) to discuss the process of establishing and implementing an efficient system for all county deputies to refer all civil violations/citations occurring on the reservation to the tribal court, which, as part of the agreement, was to be created within the first three months.


Sheriff Doug Mrotek told the TGB that he would immediately issue a memo to all of his deputies instructing them to refer all non-criminal citations written within the reservation boundary to the LCO Police Department to process through tribal court, which would serve as the process while the county’s corporate counsel and tribe’s attorney would set up a meeting to go over legalities and jurisdictional questions.


One issue that has come up for non-Natives in the county is their potential treatment in tribal court. Dyllan Linehan, one of the tribe’s attorneys, explained that the fear of non-Natives in tribal court has been unfounded for a long time.


“The fear is because there is no knowledge or communication,” Linehan stated. “It’s not scary. We have the same standard as anywhere. Our traffic code is adopted to follow the same traffic laws of the state of Wisconsin. People need to understand it’s the same exact statute as the state and it’s civil. You’re not going to go to jail.”


Linehan told the sheriff that as the tribal prosecutor, he takes many things into consideration and works with defendants.


“Our boundary lines are important, but this whole thing is about law enforcement. We are a partnership,” Linehan stated.