The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation has a new top law enforcement administrator. The tribe announced in a media release in mid-July that William Dittman has been named Interim Chief of Police of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Police Department.
Dittman brings more than 35 years of experience in various aspects of law enforcement to the tribal nation. Dittman is a former police captain for the city of New London, Connecticut, and most recently, worked for the Chief State’s Attorney’s office.
“It is my pleasure to have been appointed Interim Chief of Police of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Police Department,” Dittman told Indian Country Today Media Network in a prepared statement. “I look forward to the opportunity to blend my 35 plus years of law enforcement experience, knowledge and expertise with the unique sovereign components inherent within tribal police departments.”
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation operates Foxwoods Resort Casino, the largest casino in America. Dittman’s appointment comes as the tribal government seeks to replace state troopers in Foxwoods with members from its own police department. The tribe pays millions of dollars each year to the state for police “security coverage” – money that could be used for other tribal government services. State officials say tribal police will need to obtain certifications that are lacking and demonstrate proficiency to the state before the agreement is finalized, according to the Associated Press. The presence of the state police on the reservation in the casino is dictated by the tribal-state gaming compact, which says the State of Connecticut has jurisdiction to enforce all criminal laws of the state and mandates that “law enforcement officers of the State of Connecticut shall be accorded free access to any gaming facilities for the purpose of maintaining public order and public safety and enforcing applicable criminal laws of the state,” including access to all locked and secure areas of the casino. The compact does not specify, however, that state troopers will be permanently stationed in the casino. The state makes an annual assessment of how much the tribe has to pay the state for “the reasonable and necessary costs of regulating gaming operations and conducting law enforcement investigations pursuant to this compact.” The assessment includes costs of fringe benefits for personnel. It’s not clear if the compact needs to be amended in order to replace state police with tribal police.
William Satti, the Mashantucket Tribe’s director of public affairs, said the tribe has been working closely with the present state administration at developing a good relationship. “I think one of the things the tribe would like to do is sit down with the state and federal governments and see if there is any chance to cross-deputize officers,” Satti said.
Dittman said he intends to promote good relationships between the tribal police and other law enforcement agencies. “I believe my appointment will help to foster a mutual understanding of the similarities and differences between the Tribal Police Department and the Police Departments of other municipalities, as well as the State Police, which will enhance a harmonious working relationship toward the common goal of law enforcement,” he said.
Dittman had a long career with the City of New London in several roles and retired as captain of the New London Police Department earlier this year. He holds a Bachelor of Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of New Haven.
“We feel the combination of his education and over 30 years of experience in law enforcement will prove to be most beneficial to the Tribal Nation,” Tribal Councilor Roy Colebut-Ingram and chair of the Tribes Public Safety Committee, said.
Kevin Kane, Chief State’s Attorney, also endorsed Dittman’s appointment by the tribal council. “I feel Mr. Dittman is an excellent choice; he is a fine police officer with good sense and good judgment.”
Satti said the search for a permanent police chief is ongoing and Dittman has applied for the position.
Dittman was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.