Hoeven, Cortez Masto Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Tribal Law Enforcement

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) this week introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen Tribal law enforcement and increase public safety throughout Indian Country. The Bridging Agency Data Gaps & Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act would support Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement recruitment and retention, increase the effectiveness of federal missing persons systems, and give Tribes and states resources to solve and prevent cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“Supporting Tribal law enforcement officers and agencies better equips them to serve their communities and keep the public safe,” said Senator Hoeven, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “Our bill includes bipartisan legislation I previously introduced to allow BIA to conduct their own background checks on applicants, helping get more officers on the job. The BADGES for Native Communities Act is about improving public safety and enhancing available resources in Tribal communities.”

“I’m doing all I can to ensure that Tribal law enforcement agencies have what they need to serve their communities, recruit and train officers, and bring perpetrators to justice,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “My bill will give Tribal law enforcement access to more federal resources and improve coordination across agencies, strengthening public safety and protecting Native families.”

The BADGES for Native Communities Act would:

  • Allow the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to conduct its own background checks for law enforcement officer applicants in order to improve officer recruitment.
  • Increase Tribal access to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) by requiring Tribal facilitators to conduct ongoing Tribal outreach and serve as a point of contact for Tribes and law enforcement agencies, as well as conduct training and information gathering to improve the resolution of missing persons cases.
  • Require a report on Tribal law enforcement needs, including staffing, replacement and repairs for corrections facilities, infrastructure and capital for Tribal police and court facilities, and emergency communication technology.
  • Establish a grant program to support states, Tribes, and Tribal organizations in the coordination of efforts related to missing and murdered persons cases and sexual assault cases.
  • Evaluate federal law enforcement evidence collection, handling, and processing crucial to securing conviction of violent offenders.