In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (N.M.-01) is building momentum behind the House BADGES for Native Communities Act to fight violence against native women and address the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis. The BADGES for Native Communities Act will 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 address the 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.
“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 Senate version 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 House bill has bipartisan support from co-leads Representatives Tom Cole (Okla.-04), Sharice Davids (Kans.-03), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.-02), Don Young (Alaska), Ruben Gallego (Ariz.-07), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.-01), Norma Torres (Calif.-35), Dan Newhouse (Wash.-04), Gwen Moore (Wis.-04)., and Paul Cook (Calif.-08).
“It is fitting that the introduction of the BADGES for Native Communities Act falls on the 25th anniversary year for VAWA, which has been instrumental in making native communities safer. Although we have made strides in the right direction, more can still be done. Far too often, tribal members suffer the consequences of the dysfunctional relationship between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Institute of Justice. Moreover, Tribes have only half of the amount of local law enforcement officials necessary to effectively police and protect their communities. By streamlining federal criminal database coordination and incentivizing efforts to recruit more law enforcement officials, the BADGES Act represents a necessary step toward making Native American communities safer,” said Rep. Tom Cole, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
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.
-The BADGES for Native Communities Act has broad support from victim advocate organizations, tribal officials and public health organizations:
“It’s imperative that Congress and the U.S. Government honor the trust responsibility and do everything in their power to support tribal authority to end the crisis of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and bring all perpetrators to justice. BADGES is one small step forward, we look forward to continuing our work with Representative Haaland and the rest of Congress to continue the momentum of change needed to end violence against Native women,” stated the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.
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