Sullivan Lauds Barr’s Missing Indigenous Persons Effort, Continued Focus on Alaska

Initiative comes just one month after $42 million in DOJ support for rural public safety

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today applauded U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr’s announcement of a new national strategy to address missing and murdered Native Americans. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative will establish coordinators in the offices of eleven U.S. Attorneys tasked with developing protocols for a more coordinated law enforcement response to missing persons cases. Additionally, the plan authorizes the deployment of the FBI’s most advanced response capabilities, improved data collection and analysis, and training to support local response efforts.

“No U.S. attorney general in history has shown greater commitment to the safety and well-being of indigenous people in Alaska than Bill Barr,” said Senator Sullivan. “The initiatives being undertaken and support being offered by Attorney General Barr and the Trump Justice Department are simply unprecedented. I believe his meetings with Alaska tribal leaders and visits to some of our most challenged villages this summer had a lasting impact on the attorney general. He is clearly determined to put the full weight of the federal government behind addressing the lack of justice for missing indigenous persons and safety in many rural communities. I want to thank Attorney General Barr for launching this comprehensive missing persons initiative that can bring hope to so many Alaskans who’ve mourned the loss of loved ones without answers and without justice being served.”

“American Indian and Alaska Native people suffer from unacceptable and disproportionately high levels of violence, which can have lasting impacts on families and communities. Native American women face particularly high rates of violence, with at least half suffering sexual or intimate-partner violence in their lifetime. Too many of these families have experienced the loss of loved ones who went missing or were murdered,” said Attorney General Barr. “This important initiative will further strengthen the federal, state, and tribal law enforcement response to these continuing problems.” 

The launch of the MMIP Initiative comes just one month after Attorney General Barr’s announcement at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, in Fairbanks, of $42 million for Alaska Native tribes, tribal consortiums, and shelters to increase law enforcement presence and improve public safety in the state’s rural communities, with an additional $7 million being sent to the Denali Commission to tackle this issue in the form of micro-grants. And, in June, Barr declared a law enforcement emergency for rural Alaska following his visit to a number of communities. Barr’s emergency declaration provided another $10.5 million in resources dedicated to training and equipping rural law enforcement officers, acquiring mobile holding cells, and funding 20 officer positions. 

The initiative mirrors much of the efforts of Savanna’s Actlegislation introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and cosponsored by Sullivan. Murkowski’s legislation was incorporated into the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that was introduced by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Sullivan earlier this week.

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