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Press Release

Members Consider Solutions to Improve Public Safety in Tribal Communities

  • IP Subcommittee

Today, the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs held an oversight hearing examining the challenges and opportunities for improving public safety in tribal communities. Subcommittee Chair Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) issued the following statement in response:

"Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, yet that is not the case for so many tribal reservations. Adequate public safety should not be seen as a privilege, it should be the status quo. Adequate public safety and law enforcement in Indian country has been a long-standing issue for decades. There are opportunities to improve collaboration and coordination between law enforcement agencies. We can work to find ways to recruit and retain qualified law enforcement officers and ease the impact of external issues on Indian country. We must do better, and I believe that today‚Äôs conversation is the first of many to find solutions that can improve public safety in Indian country."

Background

Adequate public safety and law enforcement in Indian country has been a long-standing issue. American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) experience violence at a higher rate than other communities with more than four in five AI/AN adults reporting they have been a victim of some form of violence in their lifetime. Unfortunately, the ability of the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the U.S. Department of the Interior and tribal law enforcement agencies to recruit and retain qualified law enforcement and public safety personnel in Indian country is strained. Ensuring adequate policing is hampered in part due to a lack of parity for pay and benefits, long background check approvals and the number of qualified applicants.

Congress is considering various solutions to these problems, including improving recruitment and retention through further incentives already in use by other federal law enforcement agencies.

In today's hearing, committee members heard from tribal leaders about the successes, opportunities and challenges in tribal areas, as well as possible solutions. 

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