SACRAMENTO –A bill to increase collaboration among law enforcement agencies on tribal land and help reduce the number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in California will go to the governor after the Assembly today concurred in Senate amendments on a 63 to 0 vote.
Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) said about his AB 3099, “The rates of murdered women and girls in Native American communities is shameful and a national tragedy, and does not receive the scrutiny and attention it deserves.” He noted that a critical issue in solving cases is confusion over jurisdiction among tribal, federal, state and local sheriffs or city police departments. “This confusion causes delays and makes it difficult for law enforcement to share information. The result is that these victims and their loved ones do not receive justice,” Ramos said.
AB 3099 would help the California Department of Justice (DOJ), tribal governments and local law enforcement, including tribal justice systems, improve their data collection and collaboration. It would create three new positions within DOJ to assist tribal police with the reporting of statistics, training and outreach materials and procedures relating to crime issues on tribal lands and in Native American communities. Assistance 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.
“The murder rates of Native American women can be ten times the national average on some reservations,” Ramos noted. “Many suspects are non-Indians, but confusion over which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction helps perpetrators avoid facing justice.”
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 subject of missing and murdered women. The hearing sparked introduction of AB 3099.
The San Manuel Band of Mission of Indians is the bill’s sponsor and it is supported by the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, NEXTGEN California, Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, Tule River Tribal Police Department and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino.