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DOJ increases federal support of Native American law inforcement

[JURIST] US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced [press release] plans on Tuesday to implement a series of actions that will support the public safety on Native American lands. The initiative is hoped to improve relations between federal authorities and "Native America." Under the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety three actions will be implemented to support public safety within the Indian community. The following actions to be taken are: the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] will deploy the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information [official website] to 10 tribal sites to provide access to federal anti-crime databases, the Office of Tribal Justice will coordinate a series of listening sessions with tribal law enforcement officials and leaders to guarantee an unique perspective of law is applied within their community, and the creation of the Indian Country Federal Law Enforcement Coordination Group, comprised of 12 federal law enforcement agencies, to increase the coordination of federal agencies response to violent crime. Sessions said the need to provide tribal police with the tools to maintain public safety within their communities is paramount.

Tribal matters have been of increasing concern over the past year in federal courts. In March the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] rejected a lawsuit [JURIST report] by members of a California Native American tribe over land access. That same month the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has a federally established right to groundwater [JURIST report] in the Coachella Valley reservation in California. Earlier this month a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] against Native American tribes seeking to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In January the Supreme Court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] to determine whether the sovereign immunity of an Indian tribe bars individual-capacity damages actions tribal employees for torts committed within the scope of their employment. In October a federal judge ruled in favor [JURIST report] of Native American tribes claiming that Nevada's voting procedure violated the Voting Rights Act by failing to have polling placed on certain Native American reservations. In September the Obama administration settled a lawsuit [JURIST report] for over $492 million accusing the government of mismanaging natural resources and other tribal assets.

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