Washington State Patrol may return to Yakama Nation roads

Yakama Indian Reservation Sign

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Washington State Patrol troopers could resume regular patrols on state highways within Yakama Nation’s borders in the coming months.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs officials have approved an agreement to cross-commission State Patrol troopers, allowing them to stop and detain Yakama Nation citizens as part of their regular duties, The Yakima Herald reports.

The State Patrol could begin working again inside Yakima Nation borders in 60 to 90 days, an official said.

Yakima County sheriff’s deputies and police officers from Toppenish, Wapato and Union Gap received special commissions for Yakima Nation, but permission for the State Patrol has been withheld due to liability and jurisdiction issues with federal officials.

In April 2016, Yakama Nation reclaimed much of the criminal and civil jurisdiction for tribal citizens within the borders of its 2,031-square mile (5,260-square kilometer) reservation in southwestern Washington.

The exceptions are felony crimes handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or juvenile felony cases overseen by state courts, a police official said.