WASHINGTON—Attorney General William P. Barr launched a national strategy last week 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 Oregon 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.”
“I’m proud to join Attorney General Barr and Director Wray in announcing this new effort by the Justice Department to address the important and urgent issues attendant to missing and murdered indigenous people. These are real crime victims and their families who have been impacted by inadequate data collection and jurisdictional gaps,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Pursuing justice on behalf of tribal communities in Oregon is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We have always been deeply committed to reducing violent crime in tribal communities, especially crimes against tribal women and children. Our Indian Country team works tirelessly to be good partners with tribal law enforcement and victim services.”
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.