O'Halleran Joins Bipartisan Group to Introduce Legislation to Streamline Criminal Justice Reform in Tribal Communities
Washington – Today, Congressman Tom O'Halleran (AZ-01) joined a bipartisan group to introduce the Bridging Agency Data Gaps and Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act. The legislation would address barriers that stand in the way of improving the efficiency of law enforcement agency data sharing and officer recruitment and retention, both of which are imperative to addressing the growing crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. The bill will also ensure Tribes can continue important public safety programs that work to increase protections for Native communities by making them permanent.
“Within Arizona’s First Congressional District are 12 different native tribes and nations, all of whom who face significant hurdles in their pursuits for justice both in and out of the courtroom,” said Rep. O'Halleran. “As both a public servant and a former police officer, I have dedicated much of my life to protecting our most vulnerable and advocating for underrepresented communities like many in Indian Country. I know just how difficult our criminal justice system can be for these individuals. Today, I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce the BADGES Act to streamline public safety and criminal justice reform for Native American communities and strengthen tribal sovereignty in the process.”
The BADGES Act has bipartisan support from co-leads Representatives Tom Cole (OK-04), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Don Young (AK-AL), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Norma Torres (CA-35), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Gwen Moore (WI-04), and Paul Cook (CA-08). The Senate component of the BADGES for Native Communities Act is led by U.S. Senator Tom Udall and has been referred to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
The BADGES for Native Communities Act bridges agency data gaps and ensures safety for Native communities by:
- addressing inefficiencies in federal criminal databases;
- increasing Tribal access to federal criminal databases;
- improving public data on missing and murdered indigenous women cases and Indian Country law enforcement staffing levels;
- promoting more efficient recruitment and retention of BIA law enforcement;
- providing Tribes with resources to improve public safety coordination between their governments, states, and federal agencies; and
- mitigating against federal law enforcement personnel mishandling evidence crucial to securing convictions of violent offenders.
“Everyone deserves to be safe and free from the cycle of violence, but a legacy of violence against native women and children perpetuates the disproportional violence that they experience. VAWA has shown us how impactful congressional public safety measures can be. It’s why I’m leading the BADGES Act to support the resources and data systems that will help us prevent violence, solve missing persons cases, and help end the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis,” said Rep. Deb Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
The BADGES for Native Communities Act has broad support from the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center, the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW), the Navajo Nation Council, and many other victim advocate organizations, tribal officials and public health organizations.