AMBER Alert Systems To Expand On Tribal Lands

Dec 1, 2017

Lawmakers passed a bill that would expand the AMBER alert child abduction warning systems on Native American reservations

A Yuma County, Arizona tribe says the assistance is needed.

KAWC’s Stephanie Sanchez reports.

The U.S. Senate passed the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act of 2017.

The bill, cosponsored by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota would make Indian Tribes eligible for Department of Justice grants that help assemble AMBER Alert systems for law enforcement agencies.

The Cocopah Tribe's Chief of Police, Joe Jenkins, says they currently use the Integrated Public Alert System for emergency situations like AMBER Alerts but look forward to this initiative.

“The safety and security of the Cocopah community especially its children is paramount. Any equipment and funding we can receive to assist us in the effort is certainly appreciated," Jenkins said. "We're certainly grateful that Washington D.C. and the folks there have recognized the needs in tribal communities not only ours but of course throughout the country.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, more than 7,500 Native American children are listed as missing in the United States today.

Last year, in a high profile abduction on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona, authorities did not issue an AMBER alert for 11 year-old Ashlynne Mike until the day after family members reported her abduction.

The new bill would require the DOJ to assess AMBER Alert capabilities on Native American reservations and guarantee oversight and training for tribes.