Department of Justice Recognizes FBI and New Mexico Partners for Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative
On February 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice recognized employees from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Albuquerque Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Investigative Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety, New Mexico Department of Justice, New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, Albuquerque Police Department, and the City of Albuquerque’s Office of Equity and Inclusion the Outstanding Contributions to Community Partnerships for Public Safety award at the 71st Annual Attorney Generals Awards.
In 2022, the FBI initiated its Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative to understand the scope of missing Indigenous persons within New Mexico and the Navajo Nation. The award recipients and countless others leveraged the FBI’s expertise in data collection, analysis, and information sharing to make significant contributions in the understanding of a complex public safety concern. The MMIP issue crosses complicated jurisdictional lines among law enforcement agencies and its complexity is magnified as it is an incredibly painful issue for community members who have experienced the loss of a loved one. The project responded to public demands for increased transparency on MMIP issues by publishing the complete list of missing Indigenous persons.
New Mexico is a recognized leader for its progressive stance towards MMIP issues and these issues have an oversized impact on NM as approximately ten percent of the state’s population identifies as Native American. In July 2022, the FBI released its validated list of missing Indigenous persons to the public for the first time on the FBI’s public website FBI.gov/MMIP. The MMIP Initiative led to numerous opportunities to enhance community partnerships throughout NM and the NN. The members of the MMIP Initiative continue to build non-LE partnerships throughout the state.
Over the course of a year, the MMIP Initiative transitioned from a data-driven project to a coalition building effort which marshalled resources across law enforcement and the community to address a complex issue. The award recipients recognized the importance of collaboration and information sharing among a wide range of partners to address a difficult issue, such as MMIP, because this effort had a meaningful effect on Indigenous communities in the state of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.
The community partnerships forged by the MMIP Initiative in NM and the NN have positively contributed to the FBI’s understanding of MMIP and directly impacted multiple other criminal threats, including HCF, Civil Rights, and human trafficking. At an early stage in the MMIP Initiative, it became evident the project was bigger than a data-focused endeavor and transitioned to developing a coalition of like-minded community partners working together to address a public safety issue. Those nominated for this AG’s Award understood the need for collaboration and information sharing among all community partners to address a difficult issue, such as MMIP, because this effort has had a measurable impact on the Indigenous community.