Lake County votes to stop providing law enforcement on the Flathead Reservation
Lake County commissioners have officially voted to pull out of an agreement to provide law enforcement services on the Flathead Reservation. The state will be required to provide those services later this year.
Commissioners unanimously voted to withdraw from the agreement between the state and tribes, known as Public Law 280.
Lake County agreed in the 1960s to provide law enforcement services on behalf of the state across the Flathead Reservation. But county commissioners say taxpayers can’t afford to pay for those services, estimated at $4 million annually.
The Legislature passed a bill in 2021 requiring the state to reimburse Lake County for those services, but appropriated $1 for that work. The law also gave the county and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) the ability to withdraw from the agreement.
To make Lake County’s withdrawal of Public Law 280 official, Gov. Greg Gianforte will have six months to issue a proclamation acknowledging it. The state would then be charged with providing law enforcement services on the reservation.
CSKT spokesperson Gwen Lankford declined to comment on the county’s withdrawal. Gov. Gianforte’s office did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.