Friday, November 6, 2015

U.S. and Indian tribes to share information on crime

Eric Lichtblau reports in today's New York Times, "U.S. to Share Criminal Records with Native American Police."  Here is an excerpt that highlights what is at stake with this move:
The Justice Department moved Thursday to fix what it described as “an information gap” that has allowed offenders living on Native American reservations to buy guns illegally and for years has blocked tribal police from access to important criminal records.
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In an announcement timed with the Tribal Nations Conference at the White House on Thursday, the Justice Department named 10 Native American tribes around the country to share criminal and civil records with the federal government through a trial program expected to cost about $1 million.  
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With crime a longstanding problem on reservations, tribal police have complained for years about spotty access to important legal databases run by federal and state governments. They say the problem has hindered not only the ability to identify illegal gun purchases, but also to apprehend fugitives, investigate crimes and guard against domestic and sexual assaults.
Litchblau reports these events in relation to a 2014 incident involving the Tulalip Tribe in Washington State. A 14-year-old from that community used his father's handgun to shoot four students before turning the gun on himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. But the boy's father should not have been able to purchase the gun because he had violated a prior restraining order that arose from a domestic violence situation. That tribal court order, however, was not in the federal database. The father has since been convicted in federal court of firearms violations.  Read more here and here.

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