December 20, 2014

Still no deal worked out between sheriff’s office, tribal police

Jim Mosciski
By Tim Barnum|News Editor
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ARENAC COUNTY — Exactly how, when and where the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribal Police will work alongside the Arenac County Sheriff’s Office is still undecided, as the two sides have yet to agree on terms acceptable to both departments and their attorneys.

Arenac County Sheriff James Mosciski says the old agreement that existed when he took office in January posed some liability issues that both police units were hesitant to sign off on, so he, along with Tribal Police Captain Dave Crockett worked on amending the old contract.

“He (Crockett) highlighted some things he didn’t like. I said ‘Well, let’s just change it and sign it,’” Mosciski said. “Everything was changed we wanted changed, but then the attorneys got a hold of it and put in a hold harmless clause.”

He says the hold harmless clause, placed in the agreement by the county's attorney, Robert Kendrick, will prevent either side from a lawsuit in case, for example, an employee of the tribal department was being sued for allegations that the officer did something worthy of a lawsuit while assisting on a scene with the sheriff’s department without a formal request to assist at the scene, holding the sheriff’s office harmless, or vice versa.

Since the hold harmless clause was put into the agreement, the negotiations have come to a standstill, Mosciski says, but added the forces have still worked together.

“We’ve asked them for assistance and they still help us,” he said. “They’ve asked us for help and we’ve assisted.”

“The agreement’s in with our legal department right now. … I think it’s just a liability issue,” said Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe Public Relations Manager Frank Cloutier. “I think it’s just the bureaucracy of trying to reach an agreement.

“We just want to make sure it’s clear on both sides.”

For concerned residents wondering when an agreement will be reached, Mosciski says there’s not much to say.

“What can I tell them (county residents)?” he said. “It’s in their (tribe’s attorneys) hands.

"The only thing I heard form Lieutenant Kelly Babcock is that the attorneys got word from (Tribal) Council to get this going."

It was reported in March in the Independent, and on Feb. 27 on arenacindependent.com, that Mosciski sent his last proposal to the tribe’s legal counsel on Feb. 25.

Check back for updates

Recap of past story:

… Mosciski went into detail, saying under the old agreement, put into place prior to him being elected, the sheriff’s department had authority over tribal officers whenever they were in the county, including times when the officers were on the Saganing Reservation.

“He (Crockett) didn’t like that and I didn’t like that,” Mosciski said, adding a change in the proposed agreement would only allow the sheriff’s department to have authority over tribal officers when calling them in for backup and when they are off the reservation.

He says language in the prior agreement dealing with liability issues, in regards to complaints against an officer, is also being adjusted and that he sent his latest draft of the agreement to Crockett on Feb. 25. …

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