They also work hard to train our investigators and partners on topics ranging from child sex trafficking and child abduction to forensic interviews of children and adolescents and, in some circumstances, adults as well. It is important to note that our Victim Specialists are embedded in the communities they serve. This helps them develop greater confidence, knowledge, and cultural sensitivity when helping victims and survivors of crime anywhere, but especially in Indian Country. It is essential to their role to serve as a bridge between the communities and our agents, officers and prosecutors. Ensuring that victims can actively participate in the criminal justice process with dignity, support and resilience helps us bring criminals to justice and hold them accountable for their crimes.
In addition to the investigative and victim resources we provide, the FBI continually works to improve our response and support to Indigenous communities. For example, the Safe Online Surfing program teaches Aboriginal youth how to protect themselves from Internet predators. And through our elder fraud awareness efforts, the FBI has helped tribal elders protect themselves from financial and other fraudulent schemes. We also support various information-sharing initiatives to help keep our tribal law enforcement partners and Indigenous communities safe.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, provides technology, forensic services and investigative support to resolve long-term investigations of unidentified and missing persons. NamUS helps families affected by the death or disappearance of loved ones by providing access to peer mentors, support groups and mental health services.
We also support the Tribal Access Program, otherwise known as TAP, which allows us to exchange critical data through national databases through the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services network. It helps tribes better serve and protect their citizens in a variety of ways. They can enter and view arrests and convictions in national databases, register more sex offenders, enforce protection orders and keep firearms away from those who are not authorized to possess them, to name a few.
Today, TAP serves more than 200 tribal civil and criminal justice agencies. And through the FBI’s Tribal Engagement Program, we help the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal law enforcement agencies make the best use of our information services so that everyone involved and everyone of you can solve cold cases and advance your investigations into disappearances or murders. Native.
It’s no secret here that those who work on these types of cases are extremely difficult and dangerous. The workload is heavy and continues to increase. This involves traveling great distances – often to remote locations – and working on extremely violent cases. It’s the kind of work that can weigh on anyone. And on top of that, the men and women who work in Indian Country’s crimes face the same challenges law enforcement faces across the country.
And that brings me to another subject that is of paramount importance to us at the FBI; one that Director Wray often talks about and I know how important it is to you too: threats against law enforcement. Last year, tragically, 73 law enforcement officers were murdered on the job. That made 2021 the most dangerous year for law enforcement in roughly two decades. And the highest percentage of officers who were criminally killed last year died in unprovoked attacks, suggesting they were in fact targeted.
Sadly, so far in 2022, another 44 officers have been murdered in the line of duty. These officers got up in the morning, put on their badges and bravely ventured out, knowing the dangers they would face. They have done this work with dedication, knowing the hardships faced and the challenges faced, especially during these past difficult years, as they have dedicated themselves to protecting their fellow Americans and their communities. Ensuring the safety of our employees is and should be our top priority. This is why working together to combat the threats we collectively face is so essential and so important.
Again, getting the most violent offenders off the streets will go a long way towards this goal, as will ensuring our teams have the training and equipment they need to do their jobs safely. At the FBI, we continue to raise the alarm about this appalling trend and pay close attention to it. And we intend to continue to work with you to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of our staff. Because we all know law enforcement is dangerous enough, day in and day out, on its own. Wearing a badge and serving the public doesn’t have to make someone a target.
To know how to effectively and best deal with the threat, we also need to understand the trends. And that brings me to something the FBI needs from you: we need concrete, transparent information about what’s really happening across the country and in our communities through accurate, timely, and objective data. We really need the facts. This is what we need
As many of you know, it has been over a year since the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program transitioned to NIBRS-only reporting. For those who may not know, NIBRS stands for National Incident-Based Reporting System. This new program is more detailed, provides more complete data, is more streamlined and easier to use. Today, more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide (64%) now report their data through NIBRS. And that includes 177 tribal agencies.
For those of you who are participating, thank you for that. And if not, I want to encourage you to do so. Our annual report, Crime in the United States, draws on data submitted through the NIBRS to give departments and agencies — and the public we serve — insight into the crime issues we all face.
It’s worth noting that few agencies had moved to NIBRS by the deadline of our 2021 report, so when we release it shortly, you’ll see estimates for certain trends, including violent crime. But as more and more agencies move to NIBRS, we will be able to make broader and deeper analysis of crime data available to everyone.
I want you to know that we at the FBI are investing – and will continue to invest – in training and tools to help agencies make the transition. We know it can be a challenge, but we’re here to help you make that transition to that end. Because if you’re not NIBRS certified, you can’t provide the crucial data we need to get the most complete national picture and put us all in the best position to serve and protect.
Another program I want to tell you about today is new – and sometimes hard to talk about. This year, we began collecting data on law enforcement suicides and attempted suicides. This includes not only the location of these tragedies and the manner of death, but also information such as biographical information, work history, problems or unusual behaviors or actions that services or agencies may have observed.
Collecting this data and in general and making it available throughout the law enforcement community is vital for all of us as we continue to make the physical and mental health of our personnel a top priority. By better understanding the issue of law enforcement suicides, we can help prevent them. You can find the data currently on our Law Enforcement Company Portal, or LEEP.
We need to keep our communities safe, but we also need to be able to take care of our own and others. And we can’t do it right without a better understanding of what’s really going on there.
I think we can all agree that we face very real challenges—to put it mildly—with some of the most complex and evolving threats we’ve ever seen. What gives me hope and gives us hope and optimism is that despite these challenges, FBI employees assigned to Indian Country continually say it is one of the most rewarding things they do or have done in their careers.
Because in doing so, they help keep communities safe, give victims a voice and remind them that “justice for all” applies to everyone, fairly and equitably. This is the essence of our work and our mission in the FBI and in the community.
And we are honored and proud to work alongside each of you as we protect people and seek justice for victims of crime across Indian Country. I want you to know from us at the FBI, how truly committed we are to this. Once again, thank you for your partnership and your presence today.
Be well, be safe and God bless you.