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Congressman Tom O´Halleran

Representing the 1st District of Arizona

O'Halleran, Cole Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Children, Law Enforcement Officers

September 6, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) introduced the bipartisan Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act, a bill to ensure children and law enforcement in tribal communities are protected in instances of domestic violence.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I know firsthand the dangers our cops face when they respond to domestic violence calls, and I have seen how it impacts children. Throughout Indian Country, where oftentimes only a handful of police officers are on duty at any time to cover large rural areas, the risks of responding to these types of calls are even greater,” said Congressman O’Halleran. “We have a responsibility to protect our tribal law enforcement officers and young children from domestic violence, and we can do this by giving these communities the tools they need to address the problem. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation amends the Violence Against Women Act to ensure protections are in place for every survivor of domestic and relationship violence, children, and the men and women who risk their lives as first responders.”

“Protecting Native American judicial rights and the rights of those that protect our communities is crucial to ensuring tribal communities remain safe. As it is said in the police officer’s creed, we must protect the innocent. Children are most vulnerable in tribal communities and this legislation will provide the resources to protect our youth, as well as assist law enforcement in domestic violence cases. I am proud to join my colleague Congressman O’Halleran to introduce this legislation and I look forward to its progress in the House.” -Congressman Tom Cole

Federal data indicates that 55 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner. Of those survivors, 90 percent reported being victimized by a non-Indian perpetrator. 

Currently, tribes can convict non-Indian perpetrators of protection order violations, domestic violence, and dating violence. However, domestic violence impacts more than just the survivor. Under current law, children of survivors and law enforcement who risk their lives to save victims are not protected. This bill would extend current protections to children and law enforcement involved in domestic violence incidents on Tribal lands.

“The Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA) will extend protections in VAWA to the most vulnerable sector of our population: our children. It will also protect our law enforcement officials who risk their lives in the line of duty daily. Within the past three years, Navajo Nation has lost three officers responding to domestic violence calls. We are thankful for the strong, bipartisan support for NYTOPA and Congressman O’Halleran’s honorable effort to enhance victim resources for Indian Country.”  -Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Crotty.

“The limited reach of current protections continues to have devastating and dangerous consequences for victims because of Native Tribes’ inability to prosecute these crimes, which sometimes occur in conjunction with domestic violence offenses. Further expansion is needed to ensure that sexual and domestic violence survivors and their families are protected from further abuse. This bill, cosponsored by Representative O’Halleran, is a step in the right direction in ending sexual and domestic violence among all people.” -Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

The legislation is the House companion to the bipartisan Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act sponsored by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM). It is supported by the Navajo Nation, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Congress of American Indians, the National American Indian Court Judges Association, and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.