The National Crime Information Center at Bederal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in March 1967. Photo: FBI

Department of Justice invites more tribes to gain access to criminal databases

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

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 requires the government to open the crime information systems to Indian Country. It took five years before the first tribes were selected for a pilot program during the Obama administration but now it's in place in more than 30 reservations, according to the department.

“We have listened to the concerns of tribal law enforcement, who are dealing with public safety challenges including rising violent crime, the opioid crisis, and human trafficking, often with limited resources and manpower,” Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand said in a press release on Thursday. “The Justice Department is committed to a strong government-to-government partnership with tribal nations, including sharing valuable crime data and supporting Native American victims of crime.”

Tribes interested in the Tribal Access Program must submit a statement of interest by September 15. The department is hosting a series of webinars in August and September to help explain how the system works.

A map of tribes participating in the Tribal Access Program. Source: Department of Justice

According to the department, tribes have used the databases to capture an alleged kidnapper, prevent domestic violence offenders from acquiring firearms and enter data on sex offenders in Indian Country into a national system.

The department did not say how many tribes will be added to the program. The last group was announced in December.

The Tribal Law and Order Act was supported by Republicans and Democrats in Congress but Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate, was not a co-sponsor of the bill. He opposed the Violence Against Women Act because he said he had a "big concern" about recognizing tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians.

Related Stories:
Fort Peck Tribes finally gain access to federal criminal databases (April 19, 2017)
Attorney General vows help for public safety in Indian Country (April 18, 2017)
Zinke cites 'heart-breaking' crime rates against Native women (April 18, 2017)
Native Sun News Today: Trump prosecutor purge fails to affect South Dakota (March 28, 2017)
Native women push for more action on missing and murdered sisters (February 16, 2017)
Donald Trump's Cabinet grows with more anti-Indian advocates (February 13, 2017)
Democrats force a delay in vote on President Trump's tribal jurisdiction foe (January 31, 2017)
Donald Trump's Justice choice leaves door open to fight tribal jurisdiction (January 1, 2017)
Donald Trump's Justice pick opposed tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians (January 10, 2017)