SACRAMENTO –A measure aimed at increasing collaboration among law enforcement agencies on tribal land and that would also help reduce the number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in California was approved Wednesday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
AB 3099 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) would create greater sharing of information and heightened cooperation between California’s Department of Justice (DOJ), tribal governments and local law enforcement, including tribal justice systems.
“The murder rates of Native American women can be ten times the national average on some reservations,” Ramos said. “Many suspects are non-Indian, but confusion over which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction helps perpetrators avoid facing justice.” Ramos added that the term, “Missing and Murdered indigenous Women and Girls” sounds harsh.
Jurisdictional confusion has occurred because of a 1953 federal law, Public Law 280, Ramos adds. It removed federal criminal jurisdiction over most major offenses committed on reservations. Public Law 280 also limited civil jurisdiction in Indian Country to six states, including California. More states were added in later years.
An informational hearing last August by the Assembly Select Committee on Native American Affairs highlighted issues affecting California’s Native American tribes, including the issue of missing and murdered women. The hearing sparked introduction of AB 3099.
Annabella Hernández, a member of the San Manuel Mission Band of Indians spoke at the hearing about the epidemic of missing and murdered women. Upon learning of the measure’s progress in the Legislature she said, “Assemblymember Ramos’ bill will help reduce the number of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in California. It creates a means for state and local law enforcement to share data and increase their collaboration.” She added, “This measure will further the cause of justice. In 2016, of the 5,712 known cases of missing and murdered Native women and girls, only 116 were logged in the national Department of Justice database. These statistics are unacceptable. AB 3099 will help ensure that perpetrators who commit heinous acts of violence on California’s Native American women and girls are held accountable. We thank Assemblymember Ramos for his commitment to reducing these horrific crimes.”
AB 3099 would create three new positions within DOJ to provide assistance to tribal police covering reporting statistics, training materials, outreach materials and procedures relating to crime issues on tribal lands and in Native American communities. They would include, but not be limited to, missing persons cases involving Native American women and girls. Finally, the bill would require DOJ to coordinate education and outreach between tribal police and state and local law enforcement agencies.
In addition to the San Manuel Band of Mission of Indians, AB 3099 is supported by the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, NEXTGEN California and tribes.
AB 3099 will now move to the Assembly floor.
Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino.