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DOJ opens its annual enrollment in biometric search system for Native tribes

DOJ opens its annual enrollment in biometric search system for Native tribes

The U.S. Justice Department is again accepting applications from federally recognized Native American tribes to access its national crime information system and other databases, which includes fingerprint biometrics.

The six-year-old Tribal Access Program currently allows 99 of 574 recognized American Indian tribes or groups to access systems, including the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) database, for federally authorized criminal and non-criminal purposes.

The two-tier service allows vetted tribes to perform name-based record checks and enter property and person information (the so-called TAP-Light level) or use DOJ-provided hardware to perform fingerprint-based searches in the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system.

It is not clear if tribes are assigned just one of the levels.

The Justice Department also provides training, software, and kiosks for biometric and biographic data collection under the program.

The application window this year is July 1 through August 31, and selections will be made in September.

Eligible tribes must have at least one of four capabilities and agree to use the biometric program to aid those functions.

First, a group needs to operate a registry for sex offenders that is authorized by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

It must also employ a law enforcement agency that has the power to arrest.

Third, the must be a tribal court capable of issuing protection orders.

Last, a tribe has to have an agency that screens people for foster care placement or that looks into alleged child abuse and neglect.

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