Great Falls, June 29, 2023 - The Justice Department has announced the commencement of the application period for federally recognized Tribes and intertribal consortia to participate in the Tribal Access Program (TAP) for National Crime Information. This program aims to improve public safety by granting Tribes the ability to access and exchange data with national crime information databases for authorized criminal justice and non-criminal justice purposes.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland emphasized the importance of breaking down barriers to criminal justice information that Tribal communities have faced for years. By expanding their access to national crime databases through the Tribal Access Program, the Justice Department aims to enhance law enforcement efforts and coordination in Tribal communities.
The Tribal Access Program has already proven its effectiveness in strengthening Tribal criminal justice agencies. Participating Tribes have successfully shared critical information, such as missing persons reports, apprehended fugitives, registered sex offenders, and enforcement of protection orders. Moreover, the program has facilitated hundreds of entries into the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Indices database, preventing prohibited individuals from obtaining firearms illegally.
Through TAP, Tribes are provided with training, a web-based application, and biometric/biographic kiosk workstations for processing fingerprints, capturing mugshots, and submitting information to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems. Currently, 123 federally recognized Tribes are participating in TAP, and the application period for new Tribes will run from July 3 to Sept. 1. The selection process will be completed in September, and successful Tribes will be notified accordingly.
Chief Chris Rutherford of the Poarch Creek Tribal Police expressed the value of the program, stating that it has provided their officers with cost-effective access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system. This has significantly enhanced their operations, allowing them to access crucial information from patrol vehicles, desks, and the Emergency Tribal Dispatch Center.
For Tribes interested in applying, TAP staff will conduct informative webinars throughout July and August, explaining the program's capabilities and benefits. To access webinar dates, times, and further information about TAP, visit www.justice.gov/tribal/tribal-access-program-tap.
The Justice Department offers TAP services through two methods: TAP-LIGHT, which provides full access to national crime information databases, and TAP-FULL, which includes a kiosk workstation for submitting and querying fingerprint-based transactions.
To be eligible for TAP, Tribes must have and agree to use the program for at least one of the following purposes: maintaining a Tribal sex offender registry, possessing a Tribal law enforcement agency with arrest powers, operating a Tribal court issuing orders of protection, or having a Tribal government agency responsible for screening foster care placements or investigating child abuse/neglect allegations.
Funding for TAP is provided by multiple offices within the Justice Department, including 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. The program is co-managed by the Department's Office of the Chief Information Officer and Office of Tribal Justice, highlighting the commitment to supporting Tribal law enforcement and protecting Tribal communities.