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Press Release

Department of Justice Announces Fifth Expansion of Program to Enhance Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice is pleased to announce the fifth expansion of the Tribal Access Program (TAP), a program providing federally recognized tribes with enhanced ability to access and exchange data with the national crime information databases for both criminal justice and non-criminal justice purposes.

TAP provides federally recognized tribes the ability to access and exchange data with national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purposes and provides training as well as software and biometric/biographic kiosk workstations to process finger and palm prints.  TAP also gives Tribes the ability to take mugshots and submit information to FBI CJIS.  By the end of 2019, TAP will be deployed to more than 70 tribes with over 300 Tribal agencies participating.

The department will accept applications from September 1 through October 31, 2019.  Eligible tribes that are selected for participation will be notified in November.

“The TAP program continues to give a growing number of tribes the ability to share criminal and civil information, and the access to data that helps solve crimes and protect the public,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen.  “The TAP program is just one example of our commitment to tribal, state, and local law enforcement partnerships that strengthen public safety across the United States.”

Utilizing TAP, tribes have registered sex offenders; entered orders of protection for notice and enforcement nationwide; run criminal histories that resulted in arrests and warrants being served; entered bookings and convictions; and completed thousands of fingerprint-based record checks for non-criminal justice purposes such as screening employees or volunteers who work with children. 

For FY20, the department offers TAP services through one of the following two methods:

  • TAP-LIGHT: The department provides software that provides full access (both query and entry capabilities) to national crime information databases such as National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Interstate Identification Index (III) and the International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets) for both criminal and civil purposes; and
  • TAP-FULL: The department provides the same basic capabilities as TAP-LIGHT listed above, and also provides an additional hardware/software solution in the form of a kiosk-workstation that provides the ability to submit and query fingerprint-based transactions via FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) for both criminal and civil purposes.

“The Tribal Access Program now in use by the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians Police Department has been one of the very best investigative tools that could have been obtained by that department,” said San Pasqual Tribal Chairman Stephen W. Cope.  “Investigators from the Police Department, using various systems in the TAP program, identified a drug dealer responsible for counterfeit oxycodone/fentanyl pills that caused the death of a tribal member.  That dealer was surveilled and arrested while doing a 200-pill deal.  A search warrant served on his home revealed another batch of 200 fentanyl pills and a large quantity of heroin and cocaine.”

“Tulalip Tribes have utilized the Tribal Access Program since 2016, for several programs which has expanded Tulalip’s access to criminal justice information,” said Tulalip Tribal Chairperson Teri Gobin.  “We are able to register and track sex offenders entering and residing in Tulalip to provide better oversight and protections for our members and community. It has been instrumental in running our background checks of applicants who will have direct supervision over children to ensure our youth are being safely cared for.  Lastly, our child welfare department is able to have fingerprint criminal background checks processed to review potential placements to ensure our children are in safe homes.  We are quite pleased with the ease of use and prompt return of useful information.”

TAP relies on federal laws that provide tribes access for specific purposes, which include:

  • Criminal justice uses: law enforcement, corrections, probation/parole, prosecution, criminal courts and pretrial services.
  • Non-criminal justice uses: sex offender registry, housing, child support enforcement, agencies whose employees or volunteers have contact with or control over Indian children, Head Start programs, social service agencies that investigate allegations of abuse or neglect, and civil courts that issue orders of protection.

Given the funding sources, eligible tribes must have and agree to use TAP for:

  • A sex offender registry authorized by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act;
  • A law enforcement agency that has arrest powers; or
  • Any use that provides services to victims of crime, such as a Tribal Court which issues orders of protection

TAP is funded by the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART), the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).   TAP is co-managed by the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ). 

For more information about TAP, visit:

Updated August 29, 2019

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 19-919