More Tribes Given Enhanced Access to US Crime Data

More Native American tribes are going to be given enhanced access to critical databases containing national crime information for the United States.

In an announcement made September 16, the Department of Justice said that 12 tribes have been newly selected to participate in the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP), bringing the total number of federally recognized participating tribes to 108.

TAP was set up in 2015 after tribal leaders raised concerns about not being able to directly access crime data held in federal systems. Using the program, tribes can view shared information for non-criminal justice purposes such as screening employees or volunteers who work with children. 

Information accessible to tribes via TAP includes data on missing persons; registered convicted sex offenders; entered domestic violence orders of protection for nationwide enforcement; criminal history checks; identified and arrested fugitives; entered bookings and convictions; and completed fingerprint-based record checks.

In 2019, the Department of Justice announced that tribal governments already participating in TAP could directly input data and gain access to the FBI’s National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) using the Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System (TTSORS).

The twelve tribes joining the program are the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation; Cow Creek Band of Umpqua; Fort Belknap Indian Community; Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa; Havasupai Tribe; Lower Brule Sioux Tribe; Menominee Tribe; Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe; Muckleshoot Tribe; Passamaquoddy Tribe; Shingle Springs Band of Miwok; and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee.

Under the program, the tribes will be given training as well as software and biometric/biographic kiosk workstations to take mugshots, process fingerprints, and submit information to FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems.

“Timely access to federal criminal information can help protect domestic violence victims, place foster children in safe conditions, solve crimes and apprehend fugitives on tribal land, among other important uses,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. 

“Increasing tribal access to criminal databases is a priority of the Justice Department and this administration, and essential to many tribal government efforts to strengthen public safety in their communities.”