SACRAMENTO—Tribal law enforcement agencies and tribal courts are closer to gaining access to a national computer network that provides local and state law enforcement agencies with information used to investigate crimes and a message system maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies after unanimous approval today of AB 44 by the Senate Public Safety Committee. Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-San Bernardino) introduced the measure earlier this year.
Ramos said, “Passage of AB 44 is critical to assisting tribes keep their communities safe and investigate crimes, especially crimes involving missing and murdered Native Americans. It will also help protect neighboring communities and create stronger communication and partnerships between the tribes and other law enforcement agencies.”
The Ramos measure grants tribal governments and tribal courts access to CLETS – the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System – which contains data bases with information about an individual’s criminal history and criminal record. Through CLETS, tribal governments and tribal courts also gain access to the International Justice and Public Safety Network, the Criminal Justice Information Services and the National Crime Information Center and Department of Motor Vehicles records such as driver’s license and vehicle registration information.
Ramos stated that California has the fifth largest caseload of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people. He added that nearly one-half of all Indigenous women have been sexually assaulted, beaten or stalked by an intimate partner. “Without CLETS access, tribal courts and tribal law enforcement cannot enter domestic violence protective orders or share and update criminal and missing record information. Lack of CLETS access puts tribal communities at a disadvantage and allows criminal perpetrators to escape justice,” Ramos concluded.
Current entities with CLETS access include sheriffs, city police departments, district attorneys, courts, probation departments, the California Highway Patrol, the Department of Justice, the Department of Insurance, the Employment Development Department, university, college, and school district police departments, fire department arson investigation units and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Tribal governments and courts will be granted CLETS access by the Attorney General under AB 44. The governing body of a tribe will need to adopt a law or resolution to declare the tribe will comply with procedural laws, inspections, audits and other measures with CLETS operating policies. The Department of General Services will determine setup and access charges to the tribes for CLETS access.
AB 44 is sponsored by the Yurok Tribe. A partial list of supporters includes the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, California Consortium for Urban Indian Health, Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, Resighini Rancheria Tribal Council, California Indian Legal Services, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, California Tribal Police Chiefs Association, Northern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, California Tribal Families Coalition and Friendship House Association of American Indians.
Assemblymember James C. Ramos proudly represents the 45th Assembly district which includes the Cities of Fontana, Highland, Mentone, Redlands, Rialto and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature. Ramos chairs the Assembly Committees on Rules.