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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Alaska

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

U.S. Attorney and FBI Announce Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffery Peterson announce the District of Alaska’s role in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative, a national strategy to address missing and murdered Alaska Natives and Native Americans, recently launched by U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr on Nov. 22, 2019. Federal prosecutors and the FBI are to enhance investigations into missing persons, develop protocols for law enforcement, improve data collection and analysis, and provide training and technical assistance.

The strategy has three parts:

Establish MMIP coordinators: The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska will receive funding for one MMIP Coordinator. The MMIP Coordinator will work closely with federal, tribal, state, and local agencies to develop common protocols and procedures for responding to reports of missing or murdered indigenous people.  

Specialized FBI Rapid Deployment Teams: In response to the Ashley Johnson-Barr abduction and murder in Kotzebue, Alaska, the FBI deployed a variety of specially trained personnel and equipment. As a result of that case, the Anchorage FBI organized the first of its kind “state based” Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) Team, by training members of state and local law enforcement in the specialized techniques used by the FBI’s national CARD. These techniques directly apply to any missing person case and call upon the specialized skills described in the Attorney General’s initiative. Upon request by a tribal, state, or local law enforcement agency, the FBI will provide expert assistance based upon the circumstances of a missing indigenous persons case.  The FBI’s most advanced response capabilities will be brought to bear on these cases: such as CARD teams, Cellular Analysis Support Teams, Evidence Response Teams, Cyber Agents for timely analysis of digital evidence/social media, Victim Services personnel, and others assets as needed.

Comprehensive Data Analysis: The Attorney General’s initiative states the Department will perform in-depth analysis of federally supported databases and analyze data collection practices to identify opportunities to improve missing persons data and share the results of this analysis with our partners in this effort. The Anchorage FBI, in close coordination with the Alaska State Troopers, began analyzing all Alaska missing persons data in July, 2019.  This study was conceived as a result of the number of cases involving missing Alaska Natives in order to arrive at an accurate, defendable number of reported missing persons and the circumstances surrounding each case.  The FBI and the Alaska State Troopers hope to have publicly releasable information regarding the study in the coming months.

More broadly, the MMIP Initiative will involve a coordinated effort by more than 50 U.S. Attorneys on Attorney General’s Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS, including U.S. Attorney Schroder), the FBI, and the Office of Tribal Justice with support from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).   

“Attorney General Barr’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative will enhance public safety partnerships in rural Alaska,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska Bryan Schroder, “helping us provide justice for families mourning a murder victim or assistance to communities searching for a missing friend or neighbor.”

Special Agent in Charge Peterson added: “The FBI has been and will continue to be a reliable partner to our state and local counterparts as we work to support the Alaska Native population.  Through surging investigative capacity, providing specialized skills and training, performing data analysis, or the deployment of national assets, we remain committed to serving the Alaska Native community.”

This announcement is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination, and action on public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

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Updated November 27, 2019