JUNEAU, AK –The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently selected Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) as one of 30 tribes to be a part of the next expansion of the Tribal Access Program (TAP). The program provides federally-recognized tribes with the ability to access and exchange critical data with national crime information databases for criminal justice and non-criminal justice purposes. Currently, Metlakatla Indian Community is the only other tribe in Alaska participating in TAP according to the website for the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
“It will be a tremendous benefit to our communities to have access to the national crime information databases and share criminal and civil information,” shared President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson. “Having real-time access to criminal justice information not only improves the health, welfare and safety of our citizens and communities, it strengthens our governance and the work of our Tribal Court.”
As a participating tribe, Tlingit & Haida will receive training, as well as software and a biometric/biographic kiosk workstation to process finger and palm prints and query fingerprint-based transactions via the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services Next Generation Identification System.
“TAP recognizes the government-to-government relationship between the United States and tribes and the importance of having direct access to life-saving databases as a tool to ensure those working with our vulnerable populations are qualified to do so,” shared Tlingit & Haida’s Tribal Court Chief Justice Michelle Demmert.
Among many other important functions, Tlingit & Haida will soon have the ability to document tribal court dispositions such as protective orders in domestic violence cases; prevent a domestic abuser from obtaining a gun; register and track sex offenders; run background checks on potential employees, tenants of Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority, and volunteers and foster care applicants who may have contact with or control over tribal children; and locate absent parents to enforce child support orders.
As of 2018, tribes participating in TAP has resulted in nearly 600 sex offender registrations and over 550 sex offender check-ins, nearly 300 instances of data entry that would prohibit someone from being able to purchase a firearm, over 1,000 orders of protection entered or modified, and over 4,200 fingerprint-based record checks for civil purposes.
TAP has been deployed to more than 70 tribes across the country with over 300 tribal agencies participating since the DOJ launched the program in 2015. TAP is co-managed by the Office of the Chief Information Officer and Office of Tribal Justice and is funded by the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and the Office for Victims of Crime.