Justice Department expands Native American tribes’ access to crime databases

October 22, 2018 GMT

More Native American tribes will have access to the Justice Department’s national crime databases by the end of 2019, the department said Monday.

The Justice Department will increase the number of tribes participating in its Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information, or TAP, to 72 by the end of next year. Currently, 47 tribes are connected to national crime databases, according to the Justice Department.

“For far too long, a lack of access to federal criminal databases has hurt tribal law enforcement preventing them from doing their job and keeping their communities safe,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

A joint initiative between the Justice Department and Department of Interior, TAP assists tribes with the registration of sex offenders, locate missing people, informing police about people they stop for traffic violations and identifying human remains.

Among the databases available through TAP are the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems, which include the National Crime Information Center, Next Generation Identification, and National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Access to this program has been limited, forcing Native American tribes to rely on state authorities to provide them with information gleaned from crime databases.

The Department of the Interior will fund the installation of TAP kiosks at three locations where the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Office of Indian Services deliver social services by the end of 2019.

“Access to this information is vital to effective law enforcement,” said Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and chairman of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Native American issues.

“The Tribal Access Program will enhance and improve the ability of tribal law enforcement to serve their communities,” Mr. Shores said.