Saturday, July 26, 2008
New Laws Apply on Rincon Reservation
At the Rincon Indian Reservation, kids hang out all night getting into fights, people shoot guns in the streets and trespassers dump furniture, oil drums and puppies ---- all with relative impunity.
But that's changing. A new set of tribal codes that took effect July 1, along with a maturing tribal court system, may succeed in reining in the kind of behavior that most cities and counties have regulated with ordinances, tribal spokesperson Nikki Symington said."The reservations have gained a reputation for lawlessness, and it's been true," she said. "For the first time, we've got due process that protects individual rights while establishing community standards of behavior."The new laws mark the first time that the tribe has tried to legally enforce its own code of behavior, Symington said.
The Sheriff's Department provides law enforcement for Rincon, but deputies can enforce only the California criminal code.Those laws say little about such things as how late a loud party can run, refinements usually regulated by county and local ordinances.But now, with its own laws, police and court, the tribe can enforce a ban on undesirable acts, Symington said.A range of finesRincon's new laws, called the Peace and Security Ordinance, are a set of civil codes that establish fines for offenses such as vandalism, trespassing, curfew violations, drug use and loud parties.The codes apply to anyone on the 5,000-acre Valley Center reservation, including visitors, 300 tribal residents and 1,200 nontribal residents, she said.
The laws were developed to address problems involving residents and trespassers and won't affect most casino patrons, Symington said.Private security guards and sheriff's deputies will continue to enforce laws at Harrah's Rincon Casino, she said.
Sarah Gordon's Story