Interior & Justice Departments Team Up for Major Expansion of Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases

Tara Sweeney addresses National Congress of American Indians during the opening General Session in Denver, Colorado on Monday afternoon.

Published October 22, 2018

Department of Interior Funds the Expansion of DOJ Tribal Access Program at 31 BIA Social Services and Law Enforcement Locations by 2020

Department of Justice Expands Tribal Access Program to Additional 25 Tribes This Year

DENVER — The Department of Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney and the Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein jointly announced a dramatic expansion of the Justice Department’s Tribal Access Program (TAP) for the National Crime Information Center, which is the federal government’s key program that provides tribes with access to the national crime information databases.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) will fund the instillation of TAP Kiosks at three locations where the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Office of Indian Services (BIA-OIS) deliver direct service social services by the end of 2019 andDOI aims to expand TAP access at all 28 BIA-Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) operated law enforcement agencies and detention service centers.  BIA locations will provide some degree of access to TAP for services delivered to more than 50 tribal communities that currently do not have any direct access.  An additional five Pueblo communities will work with BIA-OIS for issues related to social services. The Department of Justice will fund access for 25 tribes, bringing the number with current access from 47 to 72, a 50 percent increase.

“I am proud to authorize the funding for the expansion of the Tribal Access Program to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make the future of justice in Indian Country stronger,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney at the 75th National Congress of American Indians Convention today. “The Bureau of Indian Affairs is proud to grant greater access to these important databases at more locations throughout Indian Country. Preforming background checks is a critical step in protecting our precious Native children in foster care, and tribal communities served by the BIA will benefit from access to this extensive public safety tool.”

Assistant Interior Secretary Tara Sweeney

“For far too long, a lack of access to federal criminal databases has hurt tribal law enforcement—preventing them from doing their jobs and keeping their communities safe,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  “With the Tribal Access Program, participating tribes will be able to protect victims of domestic violence, register sex offenders, keep guns out of dangerous hands, and help locate missing people.  This milestone demonstrates our deep commitment to strengthening public safety in Indian country.”

Participation in the TAP provides tribes and the BIA the ability to conduct state-of-the-art biometric/biographic kiosk workstations capable of processing finger and palm prints in child abuse cases, and to vet foster parents more efficiently pursuant to requirements under the Native American Children’s Safety Act of 2016 (NACSA).

“Access to information is vital to effective law enforcement,” said Trent Shores, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the Chairman of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Native American Issues.  “The Tribal Access Program will enhance and improve the ability of tribal law enforcement officers to serve their communities. The Native American Issues Subcommittee is proud to support the continued expansion of this tool throughout Indian Country.”

“We at the BIA-OJS look forward to having direct access to these vital resources,” said Deputy BIA Director for Office of Justice Services Charles Addington. “We have waited years for the opportunity to streamline how we access these critical databases and the funding authorized by AS-IA Sweeney will allow  our law enforcement officers the ability to receive the information they need to do their jobs effectively and keep them safe.”

TAP, offered in two versions, TAP-FULL and TAP-LIGHT, allows tribes to more effectively serve and protect their communities by fostering the exchange of critical data through several national databases through the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) network, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), Next Generation Identification (NGI), National Data Exchange (N-DEx), National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) as well as other national systems such as the International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets).

TAP-FULL consists of a kiosk workstation that provide access to national systems and is capable of processing finger and palm prints, as well as taking mugshots and submitting records to national databases. TAP-LIGHT is software for criminal agencies that include police departments, prosecutors, criminal courts, jails, and probation departments. Both versions provide federally recognized tribes the ability to access and exchange data with national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purpose.  TAP is currently available to 47 tribes nationwide with over 220 tribal criminal justice and civil agencies participating. 

All 28 BIA-OJS Agencies which include Detention Centers will have access to TAP. Through these agencies, BIA law enforcement provides service and support to 64 tribes, and of these tribes, 53 tribes do not currently have any direct access to TAP.

1.       Crow Creek Agency

2.       Ft. Totten Agency

3.       Lower Brule Agency

4.       Standing Rock Agency

5.       Turtle Mountain Agency

6.       Winnebago Agency

7.       Yankton Agency

8.       Anadarko Agency

9.       Concho Agency

10.    Miami Agency

11.    Ponca Agency

12.    Colorado River Agency

13.    Eastern Nevada Agency

14.    Ft. Apache (White Mt.) Agency

15.    Hopi Agency

16.    San Carlos Agency

17.    Southern Paiute Agency

18.    Truxton Canon Agency

19.    Uintah & Ouray Agency

20.    Mescalero Agency

21.    Northern Pueblos Agency

22.    Southern Pueblos Agency

23.    Ute Mountain Ute Agency

24.    Blackfeet Agency

25.    Crow Agency

26.    Northern Cheyenne Agency

27.    Wind River Agency

28.  Nett Lake Agency

The following three BIA-OIS locations will have TAP Kiosks installed for the dedicated purposes of vetting foster parents for Tribes within their service areas:

1.       Northern Pueblos Agency at Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico

2.       Anadarko Agency in Anadarko, Oklahoma

3.      Northern Cheyenne Agency in Lame Deer, Montana

The BIA-OIS at the Fort Peck Agency will also work in partnership with the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation, a tribe equipped with direct access to TAP-FULL, and will begin using the tribe’s TAP Kiosk in 2019. 

Furthermore, the BIA-OIS and the Justice Department will partner and work alongside each of the 17 tribes served by the four BIA Agencies and will explore utilizing the Kiosks for each tribe’s foster care licensing program as part of the NACSA requirements.

For the tribes selected by the Department of Justice, TAP is funded by the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART), the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).

The following tribes have been selected by the Department of Justice to receive funding for the next phase of TAP FULL:

1.      Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma

2.      Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana

3.      Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation (Washington)

4.      Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, Oklahoma

5.      Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota

6.      Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming

7.      Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Arizona

8.      Hopi Tribe of Arizona

9.      Lower Elwha Tribal Community (Washington)

10.  Northern Arapahoe Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming

11.  Penobscot Nation (Maine)

12.  Quinault Indian Nation (Washington)

13.  Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota

14.  Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community of the Salt River Reservation, Arizona

15.  Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Michigan

16.  The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

17.  Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (Washington)

18.  Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota

The following tribes have been selected by the Department of Justice to receive funding for the next phase of TAP LIGHT:

1.      Bishop Paiute Tribe (California)

2.      LaJolla Band of Luiseno Indians, California

3.      Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Michigan

4.      Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (Massachusetts)

5.      Morongo Band of Mission Indians, California

6.      Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (Washington)

7.      San Pasqual Band of the Diegueno Mission Indians of California


TAP is managed by the Justice Department’s Chief Information Officer with assistance from the Office of Tribal Justice to provide specialized training and assistance for participating tribes as well as a 24×7 Help Desk.

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