In a concerted effort to resolve violent crimes and cold cases plaguing Native American communities across the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recently increased its personnel on tribal lands. This strategic move by the FBI demonstrates a proactive commitment to addressing these unresolved cases and delivering justice to the impacted communities.
Operation Not Forgotten: A Focus on Indigenous Communities
The FBI, in its quest to investigate serious crimes such as murder, child abuse, violent assaults, drug trafficking, public corruption, financial crimes, and Indian gaming violations, has over 150 agents dedicated full time to matters concerning Indian Country. Recently, it announced the results of Operation Not Forgotten, an initiative that involved over 40 FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, staff operations specialists, and victim specialists being deployed to 10 FBI field offices in regions supporting women and children in Indigenous communities.
During Operation Not Forgotten, investigators handled over 220 cases as part of the resource surge. The initiative aimed at a comprehensive approach to combating crime in Indian Country, with investigative personnel and victim specialists collectively deployed to tribal areas to examine cases and focus resources on seeking justice for women and children who have been the victims of crime.
FBI’s Commitment to Indigenous Communities
"Operation Not Forgotten reflects the FBI's relentless and continued commitment to ensuring the safety and security of women and children in Indigenous communities," said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate.
By increasing its presence in Indian Country and working closely with tribal law enforcement agencies and community advocates, the FBI aims to achieve substantial progress in solving these cases and achieving justice for victims, their families, and loved ones. The surge in FBI personnel reaffirms the Bureau's commitment to support ongoing investigations and provide collaborative support to tribal counterparts, focusing on community well-being. This increased presence allows the FBI to provide a timely response and support in investigations related to violent crimes, drug trafficking, gang activity, and other criminal offenses disproportionately affecting women and children in Indian Country.
Victim Specialists: A Critical Element
Alongside the investigative teams, victim specialists working in Indigenous communities play a crucial role in providing support to victims and their families during extraordinarily challenging times. In the immediate aftermath of a crime, victim specialists fill a critical need, helping victims, their families, the community, and the agents.
These specialists have received specialized training to understand cultural sensitivities and the unique needs of Indigenous victims, ensuring that voices are heard, rights are protected, and the necessary resources for healing and recovery are received. Their work underscores the FBI's broader Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) strategy, which emphasizes the Bureau's continued dedication to addressing the violence impacting Indigenous communities.
Building Safer Communities: A Collaborative Effort
The FBI is committed to maintaining close collaboration with tribal law enforcement agencies, tribal governments, and community members to build safer communities and protect the rights of all individuals. The Bureau encourages individuals with any relevant information to visit tips.fbi.gov to submit an online tip or contact their local FBI office.
The FBI field offices that received dedicated personnel as part of this initiative include Albuquerque, Detroit, Denver, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, and Salt Lake City. This surge not only succeeded in bringing violent crime down at Wind River, but it also managed to get people, tribes, law enforcement, and Washington talking to one another.
While the surge has officially ended, the administration continues to focus on making Indian reservations safer, but the emphasis now is on another aspect of the problem: reducing recidivism rates among offenders. As the stakes remain high, there is a risk that the surge success could evaporate if the federal government isn’t careful. Nevertheless, the FBI’s continued efforts and its dedication to justice in Indigenous communities remain steadfast and unwavering.