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Information Sharing

The Tribal Law & Order Act - Tribal governments protect the public and are critical partners with federal, state, and local governments.  In order to do their jobs effectively, tribal criminal justice agencies receive information from other tribal, federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies.  The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 confirmed pre-existing federal practices that allowed tribal criminal justice agencies to access and share information through FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems (28 USC 534(d)(1)).  In addition, the Tribal Law and Order Act empowered the Attorney General to “ensure that tribal law enforcement officials that meet applicable Federal or State requirements be permitted access to national crime information databases” (34 USC 41107).

FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) - The FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division provides the nation’s crime information databases.  CJIS systems include the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the National Data Exchange (N-DEx), the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP)Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), Next Generation Identification (NGI), and other FBI-maintained databases that support law enforcement operations in Indian country and throughout the US.  In addition, Tribal law enforcement agencies have access to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for tribal firearm permitting and licensing purposes and for disposal of firearms by tribal criminal justice agencies.  Criminal justice information sharing policy issues are addressed by the FBI Advisory Policy Board (APB) which has tribal criminal justice agency representation.

Methods of Access – Tribal criminal justice agencies have two main ways to access FBI CJIS systems.  Many tribal criminal justice agencies go through their state’s CJIS Systems Agency (CSA) which in turn provides communication with FBI CJIS systems.  In addition, an increasing number of tribal criminal justice agencies access FBI CJIS systems by going through the DOJ Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP).

Tribal Access Program (TAP) – the DOJ Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP) provides federally recognized tribes with an alternative means to access FBI CJIS systems.  There are over 100 tribes utilizing TAP to improve public safety in Indian country and TAP has helped tribes find missing persons, protect victims of domestic violence, prevent sales of firearms to prohibited persons, arrest fugitives, register sex offenders, and conduct other legally authorized transactions.  In 2022, Congress enacted 28 USC 534(d)(2)(A) formally recognizing TAP as a program “…to enhance the ability of tribal governments and their authorized agencies to access, enter information into, and obtain information from national criminal information databases…” 

Web Based Systems – It should be noted that many of the criminal justice information sharing systems that can be utilized by tribal criminal justice agencies are now web based and do not require special equipment.  Examples include the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), the FBI CJIS National Data Exchange (N-DEx), and the FBI CJIS Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP).

Public Alert Systems – Amber Alert is a system designed to send alert messages to the public about abducted children that are in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.  Information about DOJ efforts to support the improvement of Amber Alert in Indian country is available on-line.  In addition, the DHS Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) can be utilized by tribes to provide a wide variety of alerts to the public.

Fusion Centers – One of the ways that information sharing principles are being implemented is through fusion centers.  Fusion centers provide opportunities for tribal, federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies to share intelligence in order to improve public safety.  The national Fusion Center Guidelines and the Baseline Capabilities for State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers both acknowledge tribal involvement.  For more information about inclusion of tribal agencies in fusion center activities, see Tribal Participation in Fusion Centers.

Updated November 1, 2023