Growth of Pokagon police positive sign for entire Dowagiac community

Published 9:20 am Monday, April 25, 2016

Anyone who spends their time living or working in the Dowagiac area has become accustomed to seeing the white squad vehicles of the Pokagon Band Tribal Police Department roaming the streets.

As the department has grown its ranks, so to has the presence of its officers throughout Cass County and beyond.

Despite that fact, many still are not certain where the department fits into the larger picture of law enforcement in the Michiana area.

Several members of the tribal police department sought to remedy this uncertainty last week, as they were invited to speak to the members of Dowagiac Rotary during the club’s meeting Thursday. Asked to come to the meeting by Rotarian and local attorney Mark Herman, Detective Lt. Mike Slancik, Officer James Ivy, Detective Justin Weber and Conservation Officer Jim Sumners all gave the club brief explanations of their duties to protect Pokagon lands and citizens, as well as residents of Cass, Berrien, Van Buren and St. Joseph (Indiana) counties.

By the end of their presentation, the Rotarians in attendance came away with an even greater understanding and appreciation for the work the men and women of the Pokagon Tribal Police perform on a daily basis.

Established 13 years ago with just over a dozen officers, the department has grown along with the Pokagon nation itself, with more than 30 officers among its ranks. The department is expected to expand even more, especially as the Pokagon Band pursues plans with construction of a new housing development and casino in South Bend.

While tasked primarily with law enforcement within tribal lands, tribal police officers are deputized in all four counties they serve in, meaning they have the authority to police in areas normally outside Pokagon jurisdiction. In fact, it’s not uncommon for tribal police to be the first on the scene to assist officers with the Dowagiac Police or deputies with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

The added protection tribal police officers provides our area is yet another demonstration of the Pokagon Band’s continued commitment to serve the tribe’s people and its neighbors. As the prosperity of the tribe has grown over the past several decades, so has that of the surrounding area — a development we have been delighted to see.

We thank the officers of the Pokagon Band Tribal Police for their continual dedication to the people of Michiana, and hope to see their presence grow in the years to come.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.