ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Day in the Life in Indian Country
FBI Special Agent Doug Klein, right, talks about a case with Special Agent Mike Cuny of the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Crow reservation in Montana.
2 of our continuing series.
7 o’clock in the morning in Billings,
Montana, when Doug Klein strolls into a
local shop and—fully aware of the
law enforcement cliché—orders
three-and-a-half dozen doughnuts to go.
Nearly an hour later, he’s entering
the Crow Indian reservation, ready to start
another day in Indian Country.
a special agent out of our Billings office,
spends more time in his truck than in his
office, logging up to 400 miles a day.
He averages about a day a week in Billings;
the rest of the time he’s on the
road, traveling the vast reservations (the
Crow reservation, for example, is nearly
three times the size of Rhode Island) to
interview witnesses, victims, and suspects—all
part of our responsibility for investigating
serious crimes on Indian reservations.
dusty blue truck testifies to the solitary
life of special agents in Indian Country. Stowed
inside are a raid jacket, a bullet-proof
vest, and enough evidence equipment to
process a large crime scene. He has two
police radios—vital equipment,
since he’s often called to crime
scenes directly by tribal police or dispatchers.
An assault weapon rattles in its roof
“You really have to be
more than a good investigator out
here. You have to be part-historian,
part-sociologist, and even part-genealogist.
You have to know who’s related
to whom, whether someone’s
status in a tribe will complicate
your case, what the history of
the various tribes is and the differences
between them. We lean on our tribal
partners as much as we can, but
the more we truly grasp the realities
here, the better.”
- Special Agent Doug Klein,
on working in Indian Country
of the vast territory and complex interplay
of law enforcement in Indian Country, Klein
works hard to maintain good working relationships
with tribal officers and investigators
from the Bureau of Indian Affairs or BIA.
The doughnuts help.
first stop this morning is at a converted
drive-through bank where the Crow tribal
police and the BIA’s criminal investigator
work. He drops off a dozen of
the doughnuts in the dispatch office
and meets with BIA criminal investigator
Mike Cuny to discuss several cases. Then
it’s off to Northern Cheyenne police
headquarters in Lame Deer, 45 miles down
the road. Klein doles out more doughnuts
in the command room, then checks the
jail roster to see if he wants to interview
miles later, Klein trolls along unnamed
streets in Rabbit Town looking for a young
sexual assault victim. Junked out cars
litter yards and streets, and windows are
boarded up on many houses.
in Lame Deer for lunch, a tribal officer
tells Klein about a recent liquor bust
that netted 99 bottles of hard liquor,
some guns, and eagle feathers. The officers
talk about cases, perpetrators, and victims.
Alcoholism ravages the isolated population,
and “meth” is a huge drug problem
that is only slowly abating. Child sex
abuse is rampant.
afternoon, Klein and Cuny drive to a run-down
home overlooking a junkyard, looking for
a sexual assault suspect. They’re
told he isn’t home. Cuny calls the
assistant U.S. attorney in Billings to
see if she has any helpful leads, before
he and Klein part company.
finally calls it a day after eleven hours.
He won’t sleep long: his first call
the next morning—a report of a sexual
assault—comes in at 4 a.m. And so
- FINDING ANSWERS: A Day in the Life in Indian Country, Part 1