There are a number of federal law enforcement agencies that can provide support and assistance to Tribal, state and local law enforcement agencies during an American Indian or Alaska Native missing person investigation. It is important to know these agencies and what support they can provide.
Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement can provide search and rescue resources and investigative assistance in missing person cases. National Forest Service law enforcement personnel, line officers and staff uphold federal laws and regulations that protect natural resources, agency employees and the public. Their work includes prevention, investigation, enforcement and program management. Find contact information for regional offices of Forest Service law enforcement
Department of Education (ED)
- The ED Office of Inspector General (OIG) can provide investigative assistance in missing children cases. The OIG is an independent entity within ED that is responsible for identifying fraud, waste, abuse and criminal activity, and makes recommendation to improve programs and federal laws and regulations. Email the ED OIG.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Search and Rescue (CG-SAR) can provide search and rescue assistance in missing person cases. CG-SAR response efforts include multi-mission stations, cutters, aircraft and boats linked by communications networks. Find your region’s 24-hour contact for emergencies on the U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centers page.
- The U.S. Border Patrol’s Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) Unit responds to injuries and death to Border Patrol agents and migrants along U.S. borders.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) is a free internet-based tool that Tribal officials can use to issue public alerts and warnings to their jurisdictions, such as missing person alerts or health safety alerts. IPAWS can deliver an alert simultaneously through multiple communication pathways, including the following:
- Wireless emergency alerts via cellphones
- Emergency alert system via radio and television
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Radio
- Unique alerting systems via sirens, digital road signs, etc.
To learn about setting up IPAWS in your jurisdiction, email IPAWS.
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) delivers Human Trafficking Awareness Training (HTAT) to federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial law enforcement, introducing resources to assist with recognizing and responding to potential human trafficking situations. This course can be taken virtually.
- The DHS Blue Campaign educates the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases. Blue Campaign creates training and materials for law enforcement and others to increase detection of human trafficking and to identify victims. Contact the Blue Campaign or report suspected human trafficking to federal law enforcement at 866-347-2423.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) fights waste, fraud and abuse in the Department of Health & Human Services programs. Email the HHS OIG.
Department of Interior (DOI)
- The Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (OJS) established the Missing and Murdered Unit (MMU) to focus on analyzing and solving missing and murdered cases involving AI/AN. This Unit will work to leverage tribal, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders as necessary. Request help from OJS MMU by sending an email to [email protected] or call 833-560-2065.
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has law enforcement that can assist with search-and-rescue operations and promoting public safety on public BLM-managed land, which includes one in every 10 acres of land in the United States.
- The National Park Service (NPS) Aviation Search and Rescue can assist with aerial search and rescue efforts in missing person investigations in inland environments ranging from urban parks to wilderness areas. NPS responders, officers and special agents protect the health, safety and wellness of NPS visitors and employees. Learn about missing persons in the national parks.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Refuge Law Enforcement has federal wildlife officers that protect public safety and ensure that wildlife laws are followed on National Wildlife Refuge System lands. Email U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement.
- The DOI Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigates fraud, waste and mismanagement in DOI, including addressing AI/AN concerns. Find DOI OIG contact information.
Department of Justice (DOJ)
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is a DOJ law enforcement agency that offers investigative assistance and partners with communities, industries, law enforcement and public safety agencies to safeguard the public through information sharing, training, research and use of technology. ATF fights the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. Find your local ATF office.
- ATF’s Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP
- The Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC) provides free tailored technical assistance to state, local, territorial and Tribal law enforcement agencies using a “by the field, for the field” approach. Leading experts deliver training and technical assistance on range of public safety, crime reduction and community policing topics. CRI-TAC has a training for Tribal law enforcement agencies on developing volunteer engagement programs to respond to missing person cases. Email CRI-TAC at the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the controlled substances laws of the United States, including investigating drug traffickers, supporting crime scene investigations and coordinating national drug takeback days. Find your DEA division.
- The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) can offer investigative support in missing person cases. NamUs regional program specialists are criminal justice and forensic science professionals who can provide case consultations, assist with the collection of biometric information, facilitate NamUs forensic services and provide training on the use of the NamUs 2.0 database. Call NamUs at 833-872-5176 or email [email protected]. NamUs is managed by the Office of Justice Programs, National Institute for Justice.
DOJ, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- The Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) is a secure platform for law enforcement agencies that provides web-based investigative tools and analytical resources. LEEP users can collaborate in a secure environment to strengthen their cases and share departmental documents. Email [email protected] for more information or if you need help with the following tools, which can be helpful when investigating missing person cases:
- The Virtual Command Center (VCC) is a critical incident management system providing real-time situational awareness. VCC fosters multiagency collaboration and allows federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial users to share information within a common incident management environment.
- The Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) is a repository for behavioral and investigative information related to criteria homicides, sexual assaults, missing persons and unidentified human remains cases.
- The WHOIS LE Portal provides sworn law enforcement access to unredacted website owner information.
- The Crimes Against Children Program’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) teams provide on-the-ground investigative, technical and resource assistance to state and local law enforcement. CARD teams are capable of establishing onsite command posts to centralize investigative efforts and operations. Other assets include a mapping tool to identify and locate registered sex offenders in the area; national and international lead coverage; and the Child Abduction Response Plan (CARP) to guide investigative efforts. CARP handbooks can be provided to Tribal law enforcement through FBI field offices. Find your local FBI field office.
- The Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) helps identify unknown individuals involved in the sexual abuse of children and the production of child sexual abuse material. ECAP is a collaborative effort between the FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Email [email protected] for information.
- The FBI’s Indian Country Special Jurisdiction Unit (ICSJU) investigates serious crimes in Indian Country, including murder, child sexual and physical abuse and violent assaults. ICSJU promotes relationship building and information sharing through its Safe Trails Task Forces and working group. The ICSJU also provides critical training to Indian Country law enforcement, in partnership with the Department of Justice and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- The Handbook of Forensic Services describes forensic examinations performed by the FBI’s Laboratory Division. It explains procedures for safe and efficient methods of collecting, preserving, packaging and shipping evidence. The FBI’s Laboratory Division is available for use by Tribal law enforcement.
- The Evidence Response Team Unit (ERTU) provides traditional and hazardous evidence collection capabilities to the FBI’s field Evidence Response teams, Hazardous Evidence Response teams, Hazardous Evidence Response components, Underwater Search and Evidence Response teams and Forensic Canine program.
- Regional Computer Forensic Laboratories (RCFLs) — one-stop, full-service forensics laboratories and training centers — can assist with examining digital evidence in support of criminal investigations. Email the RCFL National Program Office.
- The National Domestic Communications Assistance Center (NDCAC), available to state, local, Tribal and federal law enforcement officers, can assist with technical knowledge management. NDCAC facilitates solution sharing among law enforcement agencies and strengthens law enforcement’s relationships with the communications industry. Email NDCAC.
United States Postal Service
- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) can provide investigative assistance in criminal investigations. USPIS investigates the use of the mail to commit crimes, including transporting child exploitation material (child pornography) or otherwise facilitating the sexual exploitation of children. Find victim help resources and child safety and prevention information.