Moreover, since the recent shift of jurisdictional responsibilities, my staff has worked around the clock to hold criminals accountable in a court of law and ensure victims experience a full measure of justice. It has been humbling to see these passionate civil servants in action and doing their sworn duties. They do so in partnership with tribal, state and local law enforcement authorities as part of our collective justice mission to ensure the seamless provision of public safety services to all citizens of northeastern Oklahoma.
This past week, the Cherokee Nation hosted U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who reiterated his commitment to prioritizing public safety in Indian Country. This pledge by Barr is yet another reminder that we need not look far for examples of good faith and good acts by the United States, and, in particular, the Justice Department, upholding the federal trust responsibility to tribes, a duty rooted in generations of treaties and laws.
Demonstrating that commitment, last year Barr unveiled an ambitious new initiative to address the disproportionate rates of missing and murdered persons, especially women and girls, from American Indian and Alaska Native communities. As part of that initiative, he deployed coordinators to U.S. Attorney’s offices in 11 states to work closely with tribal communities and law enforcement to develop community action plans to respond to the crisis. This initiative promotes the utilization of the best available investigative resources, including some of the FBI’s most advanced technology. In Oklahoma, our coordinator is Patti Buhl, a Cherokee citizen with robust experience in tribal and state law enforcement agencies who is already advancing our understanding of the scope of the problem in our state. These efforts are bolstered by President Donald Trump’s Operation Lady Justice, a multiagency task force designed to enhance the operation of the criminal justice system and develop model protocols and procedures to apply to new and unsolved cases of missing or murdered indigenous persons.