- Associated Press - Saturday, May 7, 2016

MOBRIDGE, S.D. (AP) - Walworth County has a backlog of more than 1,000 arrest warrants, which officials say have been accumulating due to officers’ inability to serve some of them on the nearby Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Walworth County State’s Attorney James Hare told the Aberdeen American News (http://bit.ly/1T4fbmS ) that other counties bordering reservations face the same challenge. Once suspects cross the Missouri River bridge into the 3,600-square-mile reservation, which straddles the North and South Dakota border, officers have no authority because the reservation is a sovereign entity.

“We don’t have any reservation in Walworth County, so basically they are their own sovereign entity, and we treat them just like a foreign country,” Hare said. “We don’t have any authority as far as law enforcement.”

Mobridge Police Officer Al Bohle says law officers on the reservation share in the frustration.

“The Standing Rock law enforcement has their hands tied because of the sovereign nation laws at this time,” Bohle said. “I respect these laws and have to abide by them.”

In a recent case, the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office issued an arrest warrant for a 23-year-old man wanted on attempted murder and burglary charges. Authorities have received reports that the suspect is just 30 or so miles away from Mobridge, but it’s across the river, so officers can’t serve the warrant until he leaves the reservation.

The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs says tribal councils have the authority to create, enact and enforce laws, though they are subject to federal laws. For a warrant to be served within a reservation’s boundaries for a crime committed off the reservation, a tribal court would have make an agreement local or state officers to provide mutual aid.

A Bureau of Indian Affairs police official on Standing Rock could not be reached for comment by the newspaper.

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