Law | National

Justice Department opens criminal databases to more tribes

President Barack Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act on July 29, 2010. Photo by National Congress of American Indiansr

The Department of Justice is expanding a program that allows tribes to access federal criminal databases.

The Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information began this year with nine tribes as the first participants. Based on their successes with the system, the department is asking more tribes to participate.

"Sharing crime information helps police solve crimes and fosters better cooperation between tribal, federal, state and local law enforcement,” Tracy Toulou, the director of the Office of Tribal Justice, said in a press release. “This expansion is another step forward in the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the ability of tribal institutions to keep communities safe."

Interested tribes must submit a letter by December 2. Those that are selected will undergo a vetting process and are expected to join the program by May 2017, according to the department.

The program has funding for about 10 more tribes to join, the department said.

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 required the federal government to open national crime databases to tribes. The information is used by tribal police departments, courts and social service agencies to help keep their communities safe.

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