Contact Us

To provide feedback on the Community Policing Dispatch, e-mail the editorial board at

To obtain details on COPS Office programs, publications, and resources, contact the COPS Office Response Center at 800-421-6770 or

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530


June 2017 | Volume 10 | Issue 6

The Fort Peck, Makah, and Standing Rock are among the tribes that have recently launched the Tribal Access Program (TAP), a valuable tool available from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that enables tribal law enforcement and other authorized users to access critical criminal justice information and exchange it with state local and federal agencies across the nation. In total, ten tribes will be included in the current rollout phase scheduled throughout the summer.

The DOJ’s Office of the Chief Information Officer operates TAP in collaboration with DOJ’s Office of Tribal Justice, the SMART Office (Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking)  Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) Division, and the tribes themselves. The TAP program is essential for law enforcement collaboration, and the Attorney General recently highlighted TAP as one of the cornerstones of public safety in Indian country.

Tribal Access Program (TAP)

TAP consists of three primary elements: access, technology, and training. Access to national crime information databases is provided via the OCIO, which acts as the CJIS Systems Agency for tribes unable or unwilling to access CJIS–managed services through state networks. Tribes participating in TAP receive an integrated workstation that includes a computer, fingerprint/palm print scanner, integrated camera, flatbed scanner, printer, and optional ruggedized kiosk cabinet (a ruggedized kiosk is designed to be hard-wearing and damage-resistant, to maintain security standards). Software applications on the workstation provide access to over a half dozen criminal information databases, including:

FBI’s National Crime Information System; FBI’s fingerprint and biometric system; Next Generation Identification, the national repository of criminal histories; Interstate Identification Index; International Justice and Public Safety Network; National Data Exchange System, an online tool for sharing, searching, linking and analyzing information across jurisdictional boundaries.

TAP also provides tribes with onsite training and access to an online training and learning portal containing training videos, job aids, fact sheets and certification tests for CJIS Awareness Training and National Crime Information Center (NCIC) usage.

History of TAP

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 require the Attorney General to ensure that tribal law enforcement officials who meet applicable federal or state requirements be permitted access to national crime information databases. In addition, certain federal laws—such as Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA)—require entry of tribal sex offender biometrics and biographical data into national crime information databases, including the National Sex Offender Registry. However, the reality is that many tribes have limited or no access to these databases and, until TAP, that access depended upon various regulations, statutes, and policies of the states in which tribal lands are located.

Two pilot programs led the way to the current Tribal Access Program: the TAP-Law Enforcement Only (TAP-LEO) and the Joint Automated Booking System, or JABS.


Before the development of TAP, the Office of Tribal Justice identified a challenge in Indian country that tribal law enforcement agencies were having in accessing national crime information databases. Thus in 2010, through funding from the COPS Office, the OCIO began assisting tribal law enforcement agencies that were unable to use these databases by facilitating their access to the NCIC. This effort continues under the auspices of TAP as TAP-Law Enforcement Only and serves 14 tribal law enforcement agencies across the country.


In addition, in response to the requirements of SORNA, the SMART Office developed a pilot project in 2013 to enable tribes to submit sex offender fingerprints into the FBI’s Next Generation Identification database via the Joint Automated Booking System. Participating tribes were provided with a PC workstation, monitor, livescan, printer, scanner, and camera, as well as the necessary software. The JABS pilot was limited in scope, but it provided critical feedback and informed development of the TAP program.

TAP Phased Rollout

TAP was first initiated in August 2015, through funding from the SMART Office, and, by November 2015, nine tribes had been selected for participation.

The FY16 deployment served as a “User Feedback Phase.” Funded entirely by SMART, this phase of TAP was used to evaluate the onboarding and vetting process, technology, training and support, as well as to provide an opportunity for tribes to share best practices and lessons learned. By the end of August 2016, the TAP team began collecting quantitative metrics on its use and qualitative feedback on how well the process worked.

In late 2016, DOJ announced the expansion of TAP to 10 additional sites. This phase of TAP was funded by the SMART Office and the COPS Office and supported with technical assistance from the OCIO. The COPS Office provided $1 million and the SMART Office provided $1.75 million toward the expansion to tribes across the country, from Alaska to California to Wisconsin. TAP is one example of COPS funding in action to support law enforcement for local, state, and tribal agencies across the country.

Success Stories

Under TAP, tribes have successfully begun entering information directly into the federal databases, resulting in 121 sex offender registrations and 89 sex offender check-ins, dozens of instances of data entry prohibiting someone from being able to purchase a firearm, nearly 350 orders of protection entered or modified, and over 700 fingerprint-based record checks for civil purposes that include employment, tribal housing placement, and background checks for personnel who have regular contact with or control over Indian children.

Specific accomplishments have included the following:

  • Preventing a person convicted of domestic violence from purchasing a firearm after police identified an imminent threat to his former spouse
  • Stopping a firearm purchase by a known drug user who had been found mentally incompetent to stand trial
  • Entering orders of protection so that victims no longer had to personally take the order to the county sheriff’s office
  • Conducting required fingerprint-based background checks for emergency foster care placement
  • Providing tribal criminal histories through arrest, booking, and tribal court disposition entries

One particular success story was recently awarded the 2017 FBI National Data Exchange (N-DEx) Excellence in Information Sharing Award:

A detective sergeant with the Suquamish Tribal Police Department in Washington state was conducting an investigation into the kidnapping of an elderly vulnerable adult, but had only a partial name of the female suspect who had driven him off the reservation. The case was time-sensitive, since the victim had dementia and had no access to his daily medications. The detective sergeant logged on to the FBI’s National Data Exchange System and found the suspect’s telephone number and a police report from another county that contained her full name and date of birth. The N-DEx record also listed a previous male victim who had an active protection order in place against the suspect. That victim gave information on the suspect’s car that allowed the investigator to track her down and rescue the victim, who otherwise might never have been found.

While TAP has been instrumental in advancing public safety for the 33 tribes participating in the program, all of Indian country needs better access to national crime information databases—54 tribes expressed interest in the Tribal Access Program during the FY17 selection process, but only ten were able to enroll. The DOJ is committed to advancing public safety for Indian nations through maintaining and expanding TAP. Please check the TAP website at for future opportunities to participate in the program.

A full listing of the tribes participating in TAP is in the map below.

For more information on TAP, visit

For more information on the COPS Office, visit

For more information on the SMART Office, visit

Matthew Lysakowski, Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs
Contributing Writer

Dawn Doran
Acting Director, SMART Office

1  “Attorney General Jeff Sessions Announces New Actions to Support Law Enforcement and Maintain Public Safety in Indian country,” Department of Justice press release, April 18, 2017,

Subscribe to Email Updates

To sign up for monthly updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your email address in the Subscribe box.