Officials from the Navajo Nation and the U.S. Department of Justice met in Window Rock, Arizona, on November 14, 2017, for the launch of the Tribal Access Program on the reservation. Photo: Navajo Nation OPVP

Navajo Nation gains access to national criminal data with Obama-era program

The Navajo Nation has joined the small but growing list of tribes with access to national criminal databases.

Navajo leaders welcomed senior representatives of the Department of Justice to their reservation last week for the official launch of the Tribal Access Program. Two work stations have been installed to help the tribe access the information, The Farmington Daily-Times reported.

“There are problems in and around the Navajo Nation with regards to tracking known criminals and associates,” Navajo Vice President Jonathan Nez said in a press release. “In order to address these issues to prevent crime, we must work together and collaborate by sharing information between our different jurisdictions whether they be tribal, state, or federal. This is for the safety of our Navajo people and families.”

The tribe was chosen for the program toward the end of the Obama administration. The program itself was slow to start even though Congress authorized it through the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.

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

It finally got off the ground in 2015 after years of complaints by tribes. The Trump administration has continued with the initiative, at one point labeling it a "new" action despite its origins in prior administration.

S.1953, the Tribal Law and Order Reauthorization and Amendments Act, updates the Tribal Access Program to ensure continued access in Indian Country. The bill was introduced in early October by Sen. John Hoeven (D-North Dakota). the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and received its first hearing on October 25.

Read More on the Story:
Program helps tribe expand access to criminal databases (The Farmington Daily-Times November 20, 2017)

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