You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 22, 2019

Attorney General William P. Barr Launches National Strategy to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons

Federal Prosecutors in Washington State and the FBI to Enhance Investigations into Missing Persons and Develop Protocols for Law Enforcement, Improvements to Data Collection and Analyses, Training, and Technical Assistance

WASHINGTON – 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 in Washington State, who will develop protocols for a more coordinated law enforcement response to missing 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.”

“The Western and Eastern Districts of Washington are joining together to make sure we advance this important mission in all 29 tribal communities in our state,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  “The MMIP coordinator will work not only to improve data and information on murdered and missing indigenous people, but to make sure each tribe is connected with important law enforcement services to improve safety in our native communities.”

“Ending the violence that disproportionately affects Native American communities is a top priority,” said U.S. Attorney William D. Hyslop.  “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington is committed to working collaboratively with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement to recover the Native American women who have gone missing, and to find justice for those who have been murdered.”

“For too long, violence against Indian people, particularly Indian women, has been invisible.  In my own family, the murder of my grandmother was never properly investigated,” said Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman Brian Cladoosby.  “I am grateful to Attorney General Barr and the Department of Justice for taking action to address this injustice.  I look forward to working with them to make Indian Country safe for all Indian families.”

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.

Topic(s): 
Access to Justice
Indian Country Law and Justice
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated November 22, 2019