Home News Speeches Our Continuing Role in Indian Country
  • Louis Quijas
  • Assistant Director, Office of Law Enforcement Coordination
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Native American Law Enforcement Association Annual Convention
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • October 03, 2007

I'm honored to be with you this afternoon. I always cherish the opportunity to get out of the hustle and bustle of D.C., especially when those opportunities put me back in the company of the real protectors of this great country: you, the cops.

Before joining the FBI, I had the privilege of spending the first 30 years of my law enforcement career in local law enforcement. I must admit, there are days when I miss the excitement and rush of real police work. Even though I'm not in the thick of it with you anymore, I still swell with pride when I see the great work you are doing in keeping this country safe.

Some of my cop friends say I went to the dark side when I joined the FBI, but I can assure you I haven't forgotten where I came from. This reality has helped me in my current job, which is to ensure that the we in the FBI do our part to support the efforts of our state, local, county, college and tribal law enforcement partners.

Today I want to give you a brief overview of the FBI's role in Indian Country, and then talk about where we need to go—together—to keep our lands and our people safe.

The FBI has a long and rich history with NNALEA. In fact, two national presidents of this great organization, Dorothy Summerfield and Chuck Choney, were members of my great organization.

But the FBI's history in Indian Country dates back even further than that—practically to the FBI's formation.

As you know, the FBI has federal law enforcement responsibility on more than 200 Indian reservations. We also provide forensic and investigative support to law enforcement officials on the reservations we do not cover. Simply put, the FBI is absolutely committed to working with you to protect your nations.

First and foremost, we are committed to not only investigating crime but helping to prevent crime in your communities. Our top priorities are investigating homicide, sexual assault, child abuse, violent crimes, and assaults against adults.

We believe that concentrating on violent, personal crime is the most important contribution the FBI can make to the safety and stability of your communities. And other crimes in your communities, such as gaming violations, have provided us opportunities to partner with you as we have never done before.

One of the most important joint efforts in the war on crime has been the Safe Trails Task Forces. They bring together federal, state, tribal, and local resources, and have made a real difference in making our communities safer. Without these collaborative task forces, many crimes would be under-addressed—or not addressed at all.

We also have an Indian Country Evidence Task Force. This is a group of experts in the FBI Laboratory who are dedicated solely to processing evidence from Indian Country cases. They also provide training in evidence collection to Indian Country investigators.

We also work hard to combat violent crime and fraud at Indian gaming establishments. Gaming is a rapidly expanding industry that brings in nearly $23 billion dollars each year. The upside has been an economic boon to many tribes—but the downside has been an increase in criminal activity.

To help you to address this disturbing trend, in 2004, we established the Indian Gaming Working Group. This is an interagency group that identifies the most pressing threats and violations and then directs resources straight to them.

The group's work has led to a number of investigations. The Working Group has also provided funding and personnel assistance to address these cases.

Aside from investigating crime, we are also committed to assisting the victims of crime. The FBI's victim specialists provide a wide range of services, from transporting victims to interviews and court proceedings, to finding emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence. They are also there to help families of homicide victims through the grieving process—and through the legal system.

And finally, we are committed to providing high-quality training to our tribal law enforcement partners. We coordinate closely with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Police Academy in New Mexico. Over the past 10 years, we have trained well over 5,500 tribal law enforcement officials and support personnel. Our goal is to help create a workforce that is ready to respond to any situation—from violent homicide to child abuse.

I hope you agree that the initiatives I have covered highlight the FBI's commitment to our tribal law enforcement partners.

As you all know, the September 11 attacks required the FBI to shift its focus—and in many cases, to shift its agents out of drug investigations and other criminal areas to pursue national security cases.

But one area we have not cut back on is Indian Country. We've actually increased our staffing levels, and now have 114 agents in 21 field offices who are assigned to work Indian Country cases. These agents have opened over 1,700 cases in the last 12 months alone—and so far have gotten close to 800 convictions.

In 2001, we had 11 Safe Trails Task Forces. Today, we have 16. That's about a 45 percent increase.

Today, almost 30 percent of our entire cadre of victim specialists are assigned exclusively to Indian Country. We also have a forensic child interview specialist devoted to Indian Country matters. These victim specialists provide on-scene crisis intervention and have been invaluable to agents and victims and their families.

And we have not cut back on our training, either. We sponsor classes on topics ranging from child forensic interviews to crime scene investigation to crisis negotiation. We put on about 20 classes last year, and have another 20 planned for the coming year.

And, when possible, we also provide financial support to tribal law enforcement officers so they can attend non-FBI sponsored training events.

So as you can see, while the FBI has had to make many adjustments to meet today's criminal and national security challenges, we have made no compromises on our commitment to you.

We realize that the crimes I have mentioned are not the only threats your communities face. You are not alone. We are all facing the same challenges—from rising crime rates to terrorist threats.

We are all truly in this fight together. And the only way we will meet—and defeat—each threat is by working together, as one team, one nation.

There is a Native American proverb that says, "I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for man to depend simply on himself."

In an age when criminal and national security threats are increasingly complex, global, and interconnected, no officer, no agency, no country can succeed alone. We must depend on each other. We must talk to each other. We must share information with each other.

As I mentioned before, my job is to make sure that our relationships with our many law enforcement partners stay strong. My job is to make sure your voices are heard and that we do everything possible to assist you in keeping your communities safe. I encourage you to stay connected to your local FBI office and agents to ensure they are aware of your issues, concerns, and recommendations as to how we can better help you keep this country safe.

In my five-and-a-half years in the Bureau, I have seen the tremendous progress we have made in strengthening our partnerships. But we must not stop now. And that's why conferences like this one are so important.

The men and women of the FBI are proud to be your partners. I'm honored to have had the opportunity to be here today. I look forward to many, many more years of working with you hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder to keep our great country safe.

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