New Program Enhances Tribal Access to National Crime Databases
The Justice Department announced the opening of the application period for federally recognized Tribes and intertribal consortia to participate in the Tribal Access Program (TAP) for National Crime Information.
The program aims to improve public safety by providing federally recognized Tribes with the ability to access and exchange data with national crime information databases for authorized criminal justice and non-criminal justice purposes, such as the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland states, "To improve public safety in Indian country, they must break down the barriers to criminal justice information that Tribal communities have faced for years. That is why the Justice Department is expanding Tribal communities' access to national crime databases through the Tribal Access Program."
Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco explains, "The Tribal Access Program strengthens Tribal criminal justice agencies. By using TAP, participating Tribes share information about missing persons, apprehended fugitives, registered sex offenders, enforced protection orders, and make hundreds of entries into the FBI's NICS Indices database to prevent prohibited persons from illegally obtaining access to firearms. The efficient and effective sharing of criminal justice information improves public safety in Indian country and beyond."
United States Attorney, District of North Dakota, Mac Schneider emphasizes, "Information is power, and TAP is a way to put information in the hands of tribes and their law enforcement partners to keep people safe. The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to working closely with our tribal partners to increase public safety in Indian Country."
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta affirms, "The Justice Department is committed to supporting Tribal law enforcement and protecting Tribal communities. TAP empowers participating Tribes to take advantage of information from across the country to better investigate and prosecute crime, carry out background checks for potential foster parents, and keep their communities safe and secure from domestic violence and child abuse."
The program provides training as well as a web-based application and biometric/biographic kiosk workstations to process fingerprints, take mugshots, and submit information to FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems. Currently, 123 federally recognized Tribes participate in TAP. The Department accepts TAP applications from July 3 to Sept. 1, and Tribes selected to participate will be notified later in September.
Chief Chris Rutherford of the Poarch Creek Tribal Police states, "The TAP program allows the Poarch Creek Tribal Police Department to have cost-effective access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system. Now our officers have full NCIC access from their patrol vehicles, desk, or through our Emergency Tribal Dispatch Center. The value of this program to our reservation far exceeds the minimal effort required to be a participating partner in the TAP program."
For Tribes considering applying, TAP staff conduct informational webinars describing the program and its capabilities throughout July and August. More information about TAP, including webinar dates, times, and access information, can be found at www.justice.gov/tribal/tribal-access-program-tap.
Using TAP, Tribes share information about missing persons, enter domestic violence orders of protection for nationwide enforcement, register convicted sex offenders, run criminal histories, locate fugitives, enter bookings and convictions, and complete fingerprint-based record checks for non-criminal justice purposes such as screening employees or volunteers who work with children.
Director Cristina Collett-Jensen of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas Legal Department expresses, "We cannot say enough about the efforts that have been made to get the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (KTTT) ready for this program. Through these efforts, KTTT will have access to information that will substantially improve the KTTT Police Department's operations, and thereby allow us to better protect and serve the KTTT community."
The Department offers TAP services through one of the following two methods:
TAP-LIGHT: Provides an application that enables full access (both query and entry capabilities) to national crime information databases including the NCIC, the Interstate Identification Index, and the International Justice and Public Safety Network for criminal justice purposes.
TAP-FULL: In addition to the basic access capabilities of TAP-LIGHT, provides a kiosk workstation that enables the ability to submit and query fingerprint-based transactions via FBI's Next Generation Identification system for both criminal justice and non-criminal justice purposes.
Because of the program's funding sources, eligible Tribes must have — and agree to use TAP for — at least one of the following:
- A Tribal sex offender registry authorized by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.
- A Tribal law enforcement agency that has arrest powers.
- A Tribal court that issues orders of protection.
- A Tribal government agency that screens individuals for foster care placement or investigates allegations of child abuse/neglect.
TAP is funded by the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking; the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office on Violence Against Women. TAP is co-managed by the Department's Office of the Chief Information Officer and Office of Tribal Justice.