About the CNPD
On March 27, 2018 the Cayuga Nation authorized the creation of a Police Department via the Tribal Council’s unanimous passage of Ordinance CN-2018-01. This enabling legislation empowered a Commissioner of Public Safety to establish a “Cayuga Nation Police Force responsible for maintaining and promoting peace, order and safety on all lands of the Nation and criminal detection, apprehension and criminal investigation of suspected violations of Nation criminal laws.” In compliance with the ordinance, the Commissioner of Public Safety implemented the creation of the Cayuga Nation Police Department under the leadership of a Superintendent of Police. Drawing from the accumulated knowledge, skills, abilities, rules and regulations of the New York State Police and the nearby Oneida Indian Nation Police, the Superintendent recruited and hired highly experienced police officers, with approval and oversight of the Commissioner of Public Safety and the Tribal Council.
Police Officers of the Cayuga Nation are empowered by the sovereign authority of the Cayuga Nation to enforce the Nation’s laws. As a tribal police agency, the Cayuga Nation Police Officers are empowered to conduct investigations of criminal activity on Nation lands; enforce orders of the Nation’s criminal and civil courts; and arrest Native Americans for violations of Cayuga Law.
Tribal police officers’ authority over non Native Americans is generally limited. Pursuant to the unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Cooley (2021) an Indian tribe’s police officers have authority to detain temporarily and to lawfully search non-Indians on a public right-of-way that runs through an Indian reservation based on potential violations of state or federal law. Following these actions by a tribal police officer, suspects should be delivered into the custody of proper non-tribal authorities for prosecution.
On July 30, 2018, the Cayuga Nation Police Department began operations to protect Nation members and their commercial and residential properties, primarily located in New York’s Seneca and Cayuga Counties, within the boundaries of the federally recognized Cayuga Indian Nation. The Nation desires amicable relationships with all of its federal, state and local partners in the region, and has taken affirmative actions to demonstrate this on numerous occasions. This most certainly extends to policing and public safety. The Nation is supportive of cooperation coordination, mutual aid agreements or other actions that strengthen emergency services resiliency throughout the region.
The department is composed of experienced officers with nearly unparalleled law enforcement expertise. Currently, the department is composed of 22 highly experienced and carefully selected officers, all of whom are previously certified state or federal law enforcement professionals. As a condition of employment, officers undergo drug and psychological testing, a physical fitness test, and a background investigation. Many of these officers were supervisors or held advanced investigative positions with their prior departments. At a time when hiring and retention of police officers faces historic challenges, the Cayuga Nation Police Department boasts over 550 years of accumulated law enforcement experience– a stunning average of over 24 years per officer. These officers bring a wide range of specialized expertise to serve the Nation including: homicide and sexual assault investigation; missing person and child exploitation investigation; forensic crime scene processing; Cyber-based investigation; narcotics investigation; AES (drone) operation; SWAT; bomb disposal; firearms and K9 instruction, as well as many others. This extraordinary level of talent and experience is a rarity in today’s law enforcement environment. In October 2020, thirteen (13) department officers attended and completed the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Criminal Justice in Indian Country training course, with a 100% passing examination rate. Additional officers will be sent to this training once authorized by the BIA.
Facilities & Equipment
The Nation has equipped its officers with both a main station and satellite office; the highest quality uniforms, firearms, and protective equipment; and rugged four wheel drive patrol vehicles. Ongoing professional development for employees is encouraged and funded. The department operates under comprehensive rules and regulations, modeled after those of other law enforcement agencies utilizing best practices in policing.