Minn. and Wis. tribes, Minneapolis police to share crime data

Minneapolis, Minnesota (AP) 10-07

The Minneapolis Police Department and nine tribal police departments across Minnesota and Wisconsin are creating a common computer network that will give officers access to usually private crime data.

All state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies will share information and statistics to help develop a targeted response to specific criminal activity. A $600,000 federal grant will fund the initiative.

“Communication between tribes and partnering law enforcement agencies is key in curbing crime not only in Indian country, but in all of Minnesota,” said Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. “This project will go a long way towards achieving that goal.”

The Minnesota tribes participating in the initiative – the Indian Crime Awareness, Research and Evaluation initiative, or I-CARE – are Prairie Island, Red Lake, Fond du Lac, Leech Lake and Mille Lacs. The Wisconsin tribes are Menominee, Oneida, Red Cliff and Lac Courte Oreilles.

I-CARE will also include the collection and analysis of data in partnership with the Criminal Justice Center for Innovation at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis. A confidential reporting process will allow information sharing while protecting the sovereignty of each community.

The new level of information sharing is key to Minneapolis, a hub for distributing drugs, said Minneapolis Sgt. Bill Blake, who has been pushing for such a network since 2005. Often criminals on the run will try to hide in the city or take refuge on their reservation, he said.

Besides the tribes and Minneapolis, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation also have signed on to the agreement. Eventually, Blake would like all 22 tribes in Wisconsin and Minnesota be part of the network.

“We needed good strong relationships to make this happen,” Blake said. “There had to be a trust factor to believe we’re going to continue to do the right thing."