Mohegan tribal police disclose reports of noncriminal activity, tribal official says

Mohegan — Mohegan tribal police disclose reports of their investigations of noncriminal incidents that occur at Mohegan Sun and elsewhere on the tribe’s reservation, if and when such reports are requested, a tribal official said Tuesday.

The department does so in accordance with the tribe’s “internal procedures,” Chuck Bunnell, the tribe’s chief of staff, said.

“We investigate every incident on the reservation,” he said. “When an investigative report is created, we send it to the state’s attorney’s office. They decide whether the incident is criminal or noncriminal in nature. If it’s noncriminal, the report is sent to the tribal attorney general’s office for review.”

If the tribal office believes a report contains personal information that “deserves protection,” that information is redacted before the report is released, Bunnell said.

The Mohegan Tribe’s approach differs from that of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which has declined to provide The Day with information about an Oct. 24 incident in which a Foxwoods Resort Casino patron fell from an escalator and later died. The Mashantuckets’ director of communications, Lori Potter, said details of the incident were being withheld “out of respect for our patrons and families involved.”

Both the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal police departments assumed greater roles in policing their reservations, including their respective casinos, more than three years ago. Each signed a “memorandum of agreement” with the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. The MOAs state that the tribal police departments “shall be subject to and comply with all requirements applicable to municipal police departments ... related to law enforcement activities and retention and disclosure of criminal investigation records and arrest data.”

“From our perspective, from the state’s perspective, from the region’s perspective, the MOA is working extremely well,” Bunnell said. “It’s made for a safer place.”

He said Mohegan police maintain a “log book” that’s available at all times. The log, he said, contains entries of all the incidents the police department handles, including those that don’t involve crimes or arrests.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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