The Cowlitz Indian Tribe is one of 30 nationwide added to a program for tribes to access national crime information late last year.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced that the tribe was among new additions to the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP). The program was “strengthening tribal governance and public safety in tribal communities across the United States,” Attorney General William Barr said in the announcement.
“TAP provides law enforcement and tribal governments real-time access to data that can help locate a missing person, identify a dangerous fugitive or prevent a domestic abuser from obtaining a gun, among many other important functions,” Barr stated. “The Trump administration is committed to fixing these public safety gaps and serving victims in Indian country. I believe the expansion of this law enforcement tool will prove to be critical in achieving those goals.”
The TAP program has more than 100 tribes countrywide participating, according to a list from the Department of Justice, including the 30 new members. Tribes are provided software to enable them to access national crime information databases, in some cases including a kiosk workstation that provides the ability to submit and query fingerprint-based transactions via FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Next Generation Identification (NGI) System.
“Information sharing and communication is key to community safety not only in our Tribal communities but throughout our district as a whole,” Brian Moran, U.S. attorney for the Western Washington district, stated in the announcement. “The further expansion of TAP to our tribal law enforcement partners recognizes our shared priority of reducing violent crime in Western Washington.”
The latest expansion of the program was part of the Justice Department’s “continuing focus on public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” according to the announcement, allowing data exchange with federal and state databases. The announcement noted Barr had launched a “national strategy” in November to address issues with missing and murdered Native Americans, which the TAP program can address with data on missing persons from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
Alongside the Cowlitz, the Nisqually Indian Tribe was also selected for the latest TAP expansion, the announcement noted. The tribes join the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis among Southwest Washington tribes taking part in the program.
The announcement stated TAP enhanced efforts by participating tribes in registering sex offenders, enforcing protection orders off-reservation, protecting children, keeping firearms from those who lost their rights and improving public housing safety alongside allowing arrests and convictions to be recorded in national databases.