O'Halleran, Cole Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Children, Law Enforcement Officers
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) introduced the bipartisan Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA), a bill to ensure children and law enforcement in tribal communities are protected in instances of domestic violence.
“Throughout my career in law enforcement – as a homicide investigator and undercover officer – I have seen firsthand the dangers our police officers face when they respond to any call, especially domestic violence calls, and I have seen how these acts of violence impact children in the home. Those dangers and risks are even greater in tribal communities where there may be a single officer responding to a potentially dangerous situation,” said O’Halleran. “I am proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Cole to give communities the tools they need to address domestic and relationship violence and protect first responders and children.”
“Building safer communities requires access to the right tools and resources. Along with Congressman O’Halleran, I am proud to join in reintroducing commonsense legislation that equips tribal communities and empowers law enforcement to better protect the most vulnerable,” said Cole. “While the programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act have played a critical part in combating domestic violence and helping victims and survivors, this legislation rightly expands resources to assist first responders, protect our innocent youth and bring criminals to justice.”
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.
"I thank Congressman Tom O’Halleran for reintroducing the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act to expand our ability to protect our native children involved in domestic violence situations and police officers who respond to domestic violence calls. Our Native children are our most treasured asset, and this legislation will give us more tools to protect them. We have also lost several Navajo police officers who have responded to domestic violence calls, and we need to do more to protect those who protect our communities. Domestic violence is reportedly the highest category for reported calls on the Navajo Nation, and this legislation would help close the gap. I urge Congress to move forward on a bipartisan basis and pass this important legislation." – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez
“Domestic violence can have devastating impacts on victims, families, and communities. Children are especially vulnerable to the traumatic effects of violence in the home. Expansion of current law is critical to ensuring that children in homes where domestic violence is present are protected from further abuse. This bill, co-sponsored by Representative O’Halleran, is a step in the right direction toward ending sexual and domestic violence among all people.” – Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
NYTOPA is endorsed by the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, the Navajo Nation, National Congress of American Indians, and Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition.
O'Halleran is the Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition. He represents 12 Native American tribes and nations in Arizona.