The UT Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC) is partnering on a U.S. Department of Justice grant to develop a program to train Native American law enforcement agencies in the area of forensic investigation.
LEIC formed a partnership with the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI), the primary grant recipient. UNTCHI will work with Native American and Alaskan law enforcement agencies on solving cold cases and identifying human remains. LEIC will develop written protocols for an active investigation for the agencies. LEIC’s forensic experts Tim Schade and Jason Jones will also provide technical assistance to agencies when needed.
The overall grant is part of Operation Lady Justice, an executive order signed by President Donald Trump. The executive order formed the Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Task Force’s mission is to enhance the operation of the criminal justice system, specifically addressing the concerns of American Indian and Alaska Native communities regarding missing and murdered people – particularly women and girls.
“While North Texas will focus on the technical areas of remains identification and DNA processing, our role is to come along and develop protocol for active investigations,” said LEIC Program Manager Jeff Lindsey. “The tribal agencies are similar to the smaller, rural agencies we work with in Tennessee. They lack staff and resources and this assistance will be valuable to them when working missing person or homicide cases.”
LEIC’s work with Operation Lady Justice is expected to begin in early 2021.