This week, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice concluded its hearing on rural and tribal justice with a panel on public safety challenges within American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The commission also began its hearing on community engagement, with a panel on civil rights and oversight. The hearings were conducted via teleconference and featured expert witnesses who provided testimony and answered questions from the commissioners.

On Wednesday, May 27, the commission received testimony from Kurt Alme, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana; Kevin Allis, Chief Executive Officer of the National Congress of American Indians; Leanne Guy, Executive Director of Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition; Vivian Korthuis, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Village Council Presidents, and; Charles Addington, Director of the Office of Justice Services (OJS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

The five panelists discussed the public safety challenges within American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The testimonies touched on the need for more law enforcement resources, such as training, equipment, and funding for salaries. The panelists also emphasized the disproportionate rates of substance abuse and violence faced by American Indian and Native Alaska communities, particularly the rates of sexual violence. They highlighted the fact that a significant percentage of the crime in Indian country is perpetrated by non-tribal members, yet tribal law enforcement does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute offenders who are not tribal members.

On Thursday, May 28, the commission heard testimony from Farhio Khalif, Founder and Executive Director of the Voice of East African Women in Minnesota; Susan Hutson, President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, and; Amy Blasher, Director of the Crime Statistics Management Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Testimony and discussion focused on civil rights, community engagement, and civilian oversight. Ms. Khalif stressed that thriving, safe communities require strong partnerships and mutual trust between community leaders and law enforcement. Ms. Hutson discussed the importance of civilian oversight of law enforcement, and Ms. Blasher outlined the role the FBI plays in training law enforcement agencies on hate crime investigations.

The commission will conclude its hearing on community engagement next week.

For more information on the Commission, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/ag/presidential-commission-law-enforcement-and-administration-justice. Audio recordings and transcripts of the hearings will be posted online once available.


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