Feds Offer Tribal Police on Reservations More Help

The information-sharing program is a rare example of the Trump administration building on an effort that launched during the Obama years.
October 23, 2018 AT 10:25 AM

By Carrie Johnson

Last year, police in Washington state were chasing a lead about an elder abuse case that quickly took a turn toward the criminal.

Mark Williams, a veteran detective for the Suquamish Police Department, said he'd learned the nickname of a potential suspect in a kidnapping of a man in his 90s who suffered from poor health — but he needed to find the suspect's real name and address.

With a little digging and a few keystrokes, and the help of a Justice Department program that connects Native American tribes to national crime databases, Williams linked the nickname he'd learned with a full name, an address, and a vehicle registration.

That led to an hours-long standoff at a residence in North Tacoma, but one with a happy ending: the elderly man walked out of the home and into the arms of a trusted friend waiting outside. His alleged kidnapper faced prosecution in the tribal justice system and served jail time over the incident.

This week, the U.S. Justice and Interior Departments are expanding the program that helped Williams crack that case, doubling the access to cover 72 tribes, with more on the way.

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