Senate committee approves measure to reduce rates of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Friday, July 31, 2020

SACRAMENTO – A measure 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 was approved today on a bipartisan 7 to 0 vote in the Senate Public Safety Committee.

AB 3099 by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) would require the state Department of Justice to provide technical assistance and training to local and tribal law enforcement agencies with the goal of improving crime investigation, reporting and statistics to support and improve communication between local law enforcement agencies and tribal governments.

It would also require the department to conduct a study about how to increase state criminal justice protective and investigative resources for reporting and identifying missing Native Americans in California, particularly women and girls, and to submit a report to the Legislature upon completion of the review.

“The murder rates among Native American women can be ten times the national average on some reservations,” Ramos said. “Many suspects are non-Indian, but confusion over which law enforcement agency has jurisdiction helps perpetrators avoid facing justice. Poor interagency communication also contributes to the lack of justice for victims.”

The lawmaker stated that jurisdictional confusion has occurred because of a 1953 federal law, Public Law 280. It removed federal criminal jurisdiction over most major offenses committed on reservations and 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 issue 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. AB 3099 is also supported by NextGen California, Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association and the Tule River Tribal Police Department.

AB 3099 will now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino.