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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 22, 2019

Attorney General Launches National Strategy To Address Missing And Murdered Indigenous Persons

Nevada’s U.S. Attorney’s Office Will Use the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator to Enhance Investigations into Missing Persons, Develop Protocols for Law Enforcement, Improve Data Collection and Analyses, and Provide TTA Assistance

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Attorney General William P. Barr today launched a national strategy to address missing and murdered Native Americans. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative places MMIP coordinators in 11 U.S. Attorney’s offices, including the District of Nevada, who will develop protocols for a more coordinated law enforcement response on missing and murdered cases. The plan also calls for the deployment of the FBI’s most advanced response capabilities when needed, improved data collection and analysis, and training to support local response efforts.

“American Indian and Alaska Native people suffer from unacceptable and disproportionately high levels of violence, which can have lasting impacts on families and communities. Native American women face particularly high rates of violence, with at least half suffering sexual or intimate-partner violence in their lifetime. Too many of these families have experienced the loss of loved ones who went missing or were murdered,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “This important initiative will further strengthen the federal, state, and tribal law enforcement response to these continuing problems.”

“The FBI recognizes the violence that tribal communities face and is fully committed to working with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to provide support to those impacted by these crimes,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “We are dedicated to delivering justice and to the FBI’s mission to protect all the people we serve. We reaffirm our focus on allocating resources to serve Native American needs.”

“Our Native American communities in Nevada are full of families and friends – all of whom live lives of meaning. But too often those lives are terrorized by violence, or worse, cut short,” said U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada. “In the last 12 months alone, our office has charged four homicides on tribal lands. We are dedicated to ensuring the victims of these crimes get justice. And, with the addition of a new MMIP Coordinator position, we reaffirm our commitment to prevent violent crime on tribal land before it happens.”

“We are very pleased that the U.S. Attorney General is establishing a position in Nevada to work with tribes in addressing this crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons,” said Chairman Arlen D. Melendez of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. “It shows progress in better communication between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to solve these crimes. Our mission is to bring the missing home and support the families of the murdered through their grief.”

The strategy has three parts:

Establish MMIP coordinators: The Department of Justice is investing an initial $1.5 million to hire 11 MMIP coordinators in 11 states to serve with all U.S. Attorney’s offices in those states, and others who request assistance. The states are Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, Michigan, Utah, Nevada, Minnesota, Oregon, New Mexico, and Washington state. MMIP coordinators will work closely with federal, tribal, state and local agencies to develop common protocols and procedure for responding to reports of missing or murdered indigenous people.  The first MMIP coordinator is already on board in Montana.

Specialized FBI Rapid Deployment Teams: The strategy will bring needed tools and resources to law enforcement. 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.  FBI resources and personnel which may be activated to assist with cases include: Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) teams, Cellular Analysis Support Teams, Evidence Response Teams, Cyber Agents for timely analysis of digital evidence/social media, Victim Services Division Response Teams, and others. MMIP coordinators will assist in developing protocols.

Comprehensive Data Analysis: 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.

More broadly, the MMIP Initiative will involve a coordinated effort by more than 50 U.S. Attorneys on the Attorney General’s Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS), 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).

Today’s announcement follows the August NAIS meeting in New Mexico and OVW listening session in Michigan, where Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons and violence against women in Indian country were prevalent topics of discussion by U.S. Attorneys, OVW officials, and tribal representatives.

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Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Updated November 22, 2019