The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced September 15 that they will award nearly $127 million to American Indian and Alaskan Native communities for improving justice systems and law enforcement, as well as preventing youth substance abuse, supporting sexual assault and elder victims, and other crime prevention efforts. The grants come out of a new system called Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) which allows tribal governments to apply for multiple DOJ grants simultaneously.
In Minnesota, grants were given to seven tribal governments, including Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians, Prairie Island Indian Community, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Upper Sioux Indian Community, and the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council.
Leech Lake Tribal Police Chief Garr Pemberton, whose department will receive a $991, 275 COPS grant, said the funds would mainly be used for equipment, to provide officers with equipment, including more patrol vehicles, radios, computers to go in each patrol car, and an improved records management system. Pemberton said that since Leech Lake is so spread out, it saves time and resources for officers to be able to file reports directly from a computer in their car, as opposed to driving all the way back to headquarters. The additional time allows officers to increase community policing efforts by getting to know the people they serve. Pemberton said he tells officers to make at least three contacts per week that are not call generated. That is, an officer might chat with a person working on their yard, or young people at a playground. “That builds trust in the community,” he said.
Grants awarded to tribal governments in Minnesota:
Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians
Prairie Island Indian Community
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Upper Sioux Indian Community
White Earth Reservation Tribal Council
Pemberton said that in the recent past the crime rate in “Indian country” was much higher, especially in regard to sexual assault and domestic violence, and the new funds will help to provide more effective and efficient service. “Without grant dollars, we would not be able to provide those services,” he said.
According to a fact sheet about CTAS, the system came about as a result of listening sessions held last year between the DOJ and tribal communities. In addition to stating a commitment to improving public safety in tribal communities, especially in regard to the security of Native women and creating a better future for young people, the DOJ also created the CTAS in order to improve the grant-making process. The new coordinated grant process is intended to not only save time and resources for tribal governments, but also serve the needs of each tribe on a more comprehensive basis.
CTAS includes most of the tribal programs from the Department’s Office of Justice Programs, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVAW). The programs were listed as ten purpose areas. The program areas included improving community policing capacity, alcohol and drug prevention programs, development of tribal justice systems, correctional and/or correctional alternative facility construction, intervention and assistance for sexual assault victims, enhanced responsiveness for sexual assault, community outreach and victim assistance services for elder abuse, juvenile delinquency prevention and system improvement, accountability for delinquent behavior, and projects on violence prevention and rehabilitation.