WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has 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.
This will improve public safety by providing federally recognized Tribes 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).
“To improve public safety in Indian country, we must break down the barriers to criminal justice information that Tribal communities have faced for years,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “That is why the Justice Department is expanding Tribal communities’ access to national crime databases that enhance law enforcement efforts and coordination through the Tribal Access Program.”
“The Tribal Access Program has strengthened Tribal criminal justice agencies,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “By using TAP, participating Tribes have shared information about missing persons, apprehended fugitives, registered sex offenders, enforced protection orders, and have made 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 has improved public safety in Indian country and beyond.”
“The Justice Department is committed to supporting Tribal law enforcement and protecting Tribal communities,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “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. There are currently 123 federally recognized Tribes participating in TAP.
The Department will accept TAP applications from now to Sept. 1. Tribes selected to participate will be notified later in September.
“The TAP program has allowed the Poarch Creek Tribal Police Department to have cost-effective access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system,” said Chief Chris Rutherford of the Poarch Creek Tribal Police. “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 that are considering applying, TAP staff will be conducting informational webinars describing the program and its capabilities. Webinars will be offered throughout July and August.
For more information about TAP, including webinar dates, times, and access information, visit www.justice.gov/tribal/ tribal-.
Using TAP, Tribes have shared information about missing persons; entered domestic violence orders of protection for nationwide enforcement; registered convicted sex offenders; run criminal histories; located fugitives; entered bookings and convictions; and completed fingerprint- based record checks for non-criminal justice purposes such as screening employees or volunteers who work with children.
“We cannot say enough about the efforts that have been made to get the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (KTTT) ready for this program,” said Director Cristina Collett-Jensen of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas Legal Department. “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 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, or A Tribal government agency that screens individuals for foster care placement or that 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.