In recent interviews, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald has identified Indian Country as a top priority for her office and said that fear of school violence keeps her up at night.
Recently MacDonald’s office announced that the Department of Justice had awarded public safety grants in both areas.
Six Minnesota tribes will receive grants totaling more than $8.6 million to improve public safety, serve victims of crime, combat violence against women, and support youth programs, a press release from the United States Attorney’s office announced in September.
The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will receive a total of $1,921,228, the Lower Sioux Indian Community will receive a total of $3,261,780, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe will receive a total of $1,187,669, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians will receive a total of $1,310,299, the Prairie Island Indian Community will receive a total of $598,976, and the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council will receive a total of $337,426.
The grants will directly support efforts to address the challenges of domestic violence and opioid and substance abuse, MacDonald said in the press release.
MacDonald previously told Minnesota Lawyer, “The challenge for the state of Minnesota and also the entire nation is narcotics trafficking that goes hand-in-hand with violent crime but also crime that is distinct by itself. We have to run dual tracks, not losing sight of the narcotics trafficking but also [domestic abuse, child sexual abuse, homicide] — crimes like that on the reservation. Native Americans suffer from violent crime at a rate more than twice that of any other ethnic or racial population.
The chair of the Red Lake tribe has declared a state of emergency there because they were experiencing one overdose death every six days, MacDonald said.
“You’re going to hear initiatives coming from our office that address both prevention and treatment. It’s an ongoing battle, but we can’t take our eye off it,” she said in the previous interview.
Nationwide, grants were awarded to 133 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and other tribal designees through the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, a streamlined application for tribal-specific grant programs. Of the $113 million, just over $53 million comes from the Office of Justice Programs, more than $35 million from the Office on Violence Against Women, and more than $24.7 million from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the justice department announced.
In addition, the department is in the process of allocating up to $133 million in a first-ever set aside program to serve victims of crime in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The awards are intended to help tribes develop, expand and improve services to victims of crime by providing funding, programming and technical assistance. Recipients will be announced in the near future.
The Department of Justice also awarded $ 1,370,418 to the Minneapolis Public School District, Hennepin County, and to the City of Duluth to support school safety efforts. The grants are authorized by the STOP School Violence Act, which are intended to improve school security by helping students and teachers reduce exposure to risks, prevent acts of violence, and quickly recognize and respond to violent attacks.
Particulars of the awards are:
FY 2018 STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program: Funding will provide training and education on preventing violence and effectively responding to related mental health crises.
- Special School District No. 1 (Minneapolis): $219,740
- Hennepin County: $500,000
FY 2018 STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program: Funding supports training to create and operate threat assessment and crisis intervention teams and to develop technology for local or regional anonymous reporting systems. This technology may be in the form of a mobile phone application, hotline, or website.
- Special School District No. 1 (Minneapolis): $181,928
FY 2018 COPS Office School Violence Prevention Program: Funding is for school safety measures including coordination with law enforcement, training for law enforcement to prevent student violence against others and self, target hardening measures, and technology for expedited notification of law enforcement during an emergency.
- The City of Duluth: $468,750
“When we send our children to school, a place intended to be full of opportunity for learning and development, safety is paramount,” MacDonald said in a press release. “This is the first year funding has been awarded under the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and I am grateful to see these dollars directly supporting our children’s ability to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”