Las Vegas, Nev. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) delivered remarks at the 27th Annual National Native American Law Enforcement Association Training Event. In her remarks, the Senator addressed ways to support Native American law enforcement so that they can stem the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good afternoon, and thank you for letting me be here with you as you close out the 27th Annual NNALEA Training Event.
I hope the last couple of days have been productive as you set your course for the year ahead.
Your work for communities here in Nevada and across the country is so important.
You know, I worked closely with law enforcement for years as Nevada’s Attorney General. My husband is former federal law enforcement.
So I’m only too aware of how you put your lives on the line to protect people. We ask you to do so much.
You are on the forefront of some of the biggest problems we face today.
We’re staring down an absolute crisis of missing and murdered Native American women and girls. Too many families are lying awake at night, wondering what has happened to their daughters, their sisters and their cousins.
We have to get them the answers, and together we must do more for them.
But to do that, and to achieve all the other goals we task you with, you need resources. That’s why I’m fighting every day in the United States Senate to get you the money, the data, and the authority you need to do your jobs.
I’m pushing hard to pass two bipartisan bills, the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act, to address violent crime against Native American women. These bills coordinate government efforts to prevent violent crime and establish clear guidelines for handling those crimes when they occur. They improve our data collection and get tribal law enforcement better access to federal databases.
And they give law enforcement a seat at the table, so you can make the case for the staff, training, and data you need to make sure more crimes are reported, solved, and prosecuted.
I also support the bipartisan BADGES Act. Like the other two bills, it provides you with better data to solve cases involving violent crime.
But it also will help cut through the red tape of lengthy background checks that delay—and sometimes, effectively freeze—law enforcement hiring.
You can’t do your jobs without capable colleagues, and BADGES is going to help you get them hired and at their desks faster and more efficiently.
One more thing BADGES does: it expands access to counseling and mental health services for officers who are dealing with job-related stress. With all you do, you should get that support. Your well-being matters.
So does your safety. I’m also pushing to expand the Violence Against Women Act and its special jurisdiction so that tribes can address stalking, rape, and other forms of assault against women, children, and law enforcement on tribal lands.
If you’re tribal law enforcement responding to a call from a woman whose boyfriend has attacked her and then he assaults you, your tribe should be able to prosecute that. You deserve that protection.
You also shouldn’t be blocked from doing your work by partisan politics in Washington. I’m cosponsoring the Indian Programs Advanced Appropriations Act, which secures your funding so that if a government shutdown happens again, you still have the full resources you need to do the jobs you’re sworn to do: protect your communities. It would guarantee that hundreds of millions of dollars that go to public safety aren’t subject to being a political football.
And we can’t forget the essentials, either. I’m working to improve rural broadband and to modernize our 911 system. In 2019, we should have communication solutions so that people can reach you and you can get the information and services you need. Many of you are working in places that are hard to reach, and you need to have every tool available to communicate with neighboring agencies so that you know you’ve got back up.
Those are just some of the things I’m fighting for on your behalf in Washington. From my days as Attorney General, I’ve seen the level of dedication that Native American law enforcement officers have to their communities. You’re on the front lines for everything from vandalism to domestic violence, drug trafficking to human trafficking.
You wake up every day and are in the fight. And I want you to know that I’m working every day to better enable you to protect the communities you serve. We can and must work to get you the resources you need, so that the next time a Native girl goes missing, you’ll be able to find her. And so the next time you’re facing a tricky situation on the job, you can better radio in for support and backup.
Please know that my office also serves as a resource to you. If ever you need that help or support, please reach out to me.
Thank you so much.