With nearly 2 million American Indian and Alaska Native tribe members and more than 56 million acres in tribal trust under their protection, tribal leaders face many of the same threats to both public safety and the businesses they control that law enforcement agency managers and private sector CEO’s are dealing with across America.

Digital investigation at the crime scene (Credit: Shutterstock)

Violent crimes, the production, sale, and distribution of illegal drugs, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and robberies are all issues tribal police are wrestling with on the public safety side, while fraud, ransomware attacks, and money laundering threaten the vitality of many tribal businesses.

With data from cell phones, computers, and the Cloud impacting cases in both sectors, the success of tribal law enforcement and enterprise leaders to interdict criminal activities will necessitate increased reliance on Digital Intelligence (DI) technology.  

With DI, tribal investigators can exploit criminal communication networks, identify their patterns and practices, and ultimately disrupt and dismantle these organizations or identify where security breaches have happened on the business side and who is responsible. (Digital Intelligence is the data collected and preserved from digital sources and data types [smartphones, computers, and the Cloud] and the process by which agencies collect, review, analyze, manage, and obtain insights from this data to run their investigations more efficiently.)

Powered by artificial intelligence and advanced analytics, digital technology provides a means for tribal law enforcement and enterprise leaders to identify actionable DI to solve crimes—not just on tribal lands, but through collaboration and data-sharing with outside agencies.

By using this technology, tribal agencies and enterprises can positively impact the many crime problems they face. Through training, cooperation, and communication, tribal investigators can become far more successful at solving crimes, whether it’s disrupting the flow of narcotics onto tribal lands or fraud being committed against tribal enterprises.

To solve crimes and better prepare themselves to handle this broad array of threats, tribal leaders need to look at the challenges along the road to a safer world, then begin to acquire the right solutions, training, and support to protect their members against crimes.

Here’s how digital technology can help tribal leaders combat crimes affecting public safety and enterprise.

The Challenges

Today, American Indian and Alaska Native tribal leaders face a growing number of challenges to protect their people and safeguard their business enterprises. Top priorities include:

Drug and Substance Abuse: The opioid crisis that has rocked America to its roots is no less a problem on tribal lands where the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) established “the first-ever Joint Law Enforcement Task Force on opioids focusing on Indian Country.” Led by the BIA’s Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS), the Opioid Task Force in partnership with federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement conducted extensive undercover and sting operations to get drugs and dealers off the streets. Those efforts have proven highly successful.

“Between 2018 and July 2020 BIA-OJS conducted 37 Opioid Task Force operations throughout Indian Country resulting in over 800 arrests and the seizure of over 6,500 pounds of illegal narcotics with a street value of more than $32 million.”

These are tremendous accomplishments, but many tribal law enforcement investigators still rely on outside agencies with the technical skills and solutions to collect, analyze, and manage data. Bringing these skills and solutions “in-house” will allow tribal law enforcement agencies to reduce time to evidence and solve more cases faster.

Missing and Murdered Persons

The problem of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women, children, and men was taken up by a task force established under President Trump. What is now known as “Operation Lady Justice” is tasking this team with:

  • Establishing protocols for new and unsolved cases
  • Establishing multi-jurisdictional cold case teams
  • Improving the response to investigative challenges
  • Collecting and managing data across jurisdictions
  • Providing clarity on the roles, authorities, and jurisdiction for those involved

Tribal leaders will need to work in close collaboration with BIA and other agencies to achieve these goals, but it will take the right solutions, trained personnel, and vision to make it happen.

Challenges tribal leaders face are no less daunting on the business side.

Gaming: According to CDC Gaming Reports, the annual report released by NIGC Chairman Sequoyah Simermeyer showed $27.8 billion in gross gaming revenue at tribal casinos in fiscal-year 2020. With this many dollars being generated, attempts to siphon funds away through acts of fraud are something tribal leaders are constantly dealing with. Having the means to look inward and outward to investigate cybersecurity crimes is critical. This is where endpoint solutions that pinpoint where these crimes are occurring and who the perpetrators are, is important.

Money laundering is also a huge threat to the tribal gaming business. Digital technology solutions that can aid investigators in collecting, analyzing, and managing data can reveal entire networks in a visualization to help guide command decisions.

Security and Policy Procedures: Protecting tribal businesses from outside threats such as ransomware attacks is critical. This calls for SOPs for incident response after crimes have occurred but also being proactive to stay out in front of crimes before they happen.

Data Sharing: Whether it’s tribal law enforcement collaborating with outside agencies or employees of tribal enterprises working from home, having the ability to safely and securely share information is critical to ensure both public safety and to keep businesses moving forward.

Tech Advances: As technology has advanced, tech-savvy criminals have used technology as a tool to target tribal members and enterprises. And with the number of encryption-protected devices growing, tribal investigators are finding it ever more difficult to track down those who are a threat to public safety and enterprise.

A parallel challenge can be seen in the growing number of devices turning up in cases and the overwhelming amount of data that must be collected, analyzed, and managed to provide actionable intelligence to solve crimes.

Tribal leaders need solutions that can cut through the data deluge and provide actionable intelligence to move cases forward swiftly to identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent.

How Technology is Meeting Today’s Tribal Challenges

Before moving forward on the journey to digital transformation, however, tribal leaders need to take a step back to fully understand what this journey means and how technology solutions can best serve their needs. And while the technology can provide tribal members in both law enforcement and private enterprise with immediate advantages, moving to a fully digital platform takes introspection, time, and expert guidance.

Setting a Strategy: Tribal leaders need to start by first looking inward:

  • What are the challenges you’re facing?
  • What are your goals?
  • How do you intend to utilize technology to find actionable intelligence that can disrupt opioid trafficking on tribal lands or track the source of someone skimming funds from the revenue streams being generated through tribal gaming operations?
  • How do you intend to utilize technology to find actionable intelligence that can disrupt opioid trafficking on tribal lands or track the source of someone skimming funds from the revenue streams being generated through tribal gaming operations?
  • Do you have the right trained people in place to move your business enterprise or law enforcement agency forward?
  • What kinds of Digital Intelligence solutions does your present infrastructure provide and how might those solutions be supplemented to provide a comprehensive solution?

Choosing the Right Partner: Answering these questions in preparation for digital transformation isn’t easy. This is why choosing the right partner that has the expertise, solutions, services, and reputation as a leader in the digital space is so important.

Cellebrite is the global leader in partnering with public and private organizations to transform how they manage Digital Intelligence in investigations to protect and save lives, accelerate justice, and ensure data privacy.

We aid organizations in mastering the complexities of legally sanctioned digital investigations with an award-winning Digital Intelligence Investigative Platform and services to unify the investigative lifecycle and manage digital evidence.

Our technology helps convict bad actors and bring justice to victims of crimes, including child exploitation, homicide, and sexual assault, drug and human trafficking, fraud, and financial crime.

Onboarding the Right Solutions

Solving cases in a digital world revolves around these four key steps:

  1. Collect and preserve data lawfully from the widest range of digital devices and sources, making it accessible to anyone who needs it, the moment they need it.

  2. Review data in formats that are easy-to-comprehend, targeted, and actionable.

  3. Analyze and process data quickly to find and validate key pieces of digital evidence, surfacing insights to expedite case resolution and time-to-justice.

  4. Manage and safeguard digital evidence in a collaborative way to break down silos, allowing stakeholders to reach maximum efficiency while ensuring privacy and chain of evidence protocols.

Our solutions, services, and training are built and designed to help our customers improve public safety, help victims reclaim their lives, and uncover the truth buried within each investigation.

At present, many tribal law enforcement teams and enterprises lack the solutions and training to make the most of digital evidence turning up in cases. Most have to rely on outside agencies that have digital solutions and trained personnel on hand to help solve cases. Waiting for data to be returned can be time-consuming and a critical hindrance in cases like missing persons, child sexual abuse, or abduction cases when time is of the essence.

Having trained personnel armed with the most up-to-date solutions can greatly enhance the ability of tribal leaders to protect tribal members and their businesses. Here’s how our solutions can help improve public safety and protect tribal enterprise interests.

Accelerate Digital Investigations

Cellebrite Digital Intelligence solutions modernize an agency’s investigative operations in the most diverse and rigorous environments in support of their mission to protect & save lives, accelerate justice, and maintain data integrity.

Empower Tribal Agencies to Transform Their Investigative Culture

Protecting American Indian and Alaska Native tribe members and assets requires simple and scalable solutions and services that assist in advancing your agency’s mission. Cellebrite Digital Intelligence solutions empower agencies to transform their investigative culture and operations while accelerating the discovery, analysis, and management of digital evidence.

Enforcement & Protection

No matter the incident, quickly identify and analyze relevant digital data that facilitates collaboration and accelerates digital investigations with solutions, training, and services you can defend.

Internal Investigations

Improve operational efficiency by fully leveraging digital data from mobile devices, computers, and the Cloud to identify waste, fraud, and abuse as part of your discovery and investigative processes.

Enforcement & Prosecution

Collect, analyze, and share digital evidence in easy-to-understand visual formats to aid prosecutors in improving conviction rates.

Digital Forensics & Incident Response (DFIR)

Use digital media sources in a post-attack scenario to determine how a cyber breach was installed and executed, and thwart future attempts.

Our Digital Intelligence Platform

Cellebrite’s comprehensive Digital Intelligence software platform quickly automates collection and review from digital sources, analyzes and processes data fast with advanced analytics and AI, and manages data securely while enabling collaboration. It’s the only platform that supports the most common and widest range of digital evidence used in today’s modern investigations.

Cellebrite’s Digital Intelligence Platform can empower tribal agencies and enterprises to deliver transparent, auditable, and algorithmically fair results enabling investigators to use unbiased data to inform investigative decisions.

Collect & Review: Discover and gather evidence from multiple points in mobile devices, computers, and the Cloud, whether connected to a network or not – while protecting the custodian privacy.

Investigative Analytics: Master the complexity of data and reveal actionable insights – accelerating time to resolution and improving your investigative operations.

Manage & Control: Maintain federal compliance using a customizable digital evidence management solution – ensuring that the right people have access to the right data, at the right time.

Special Services: Gain access to a global team of professional domain experts providing the technical knowledge, bespoke solutions, and training needed to accomplish your mission.

Training Is Pivotal

Cellebrite Training Lab (Credit: Cellebrite)

With technology evolving and advancing as quickly as it is, keeping digital investigative teams well trained on the latest solutions is key to solving more crimes faster and more efficiently. Forward-looking agency managers in non-tribal law enforcement agencies and enterprises are seeing the benefits of allocating a significant amount of budget to training every year. Tribal leaders need to do the same.

The benefits training adds to any force are huge:

  • It strengthens an investigator’s ability to locate and collect evidence that brings criminals to justice and keeps citizens safe.
  • Better trained personnel can become that force multiplier that every agency needs.
  • Training builds skills and encourages officers to move up the career ladder.
  • Specialized training builds motivation and piques officers’ interest.
  • Ongoing training is critical for job satisfaction and retaining quality officers.

Finding the right courses taught by the leading experts in the field can be hard to find, however. This is yet another reason why choosing a partner like Cellebrite can help.

We offer a full suite of instructor-led, live-online, and on-demand courses designed to enhance your team’s forensic skills while providing options that make the most of training budgets.

How To Get Funding And Why You Need It

Having the right platform and trained personnel in place is the key to combatting crimes in the digital era and safeguarding tribal members. Fortunately, critical funding is readily available to make this happen. Through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the current administration will make the largest investment of resources into Indian Country and tribal communities in U.S. history.

The American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, invests $1.75 billion in American Indian and Alaska Native government programs administered under the oversight of the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (AS-IA). 

According to the BIA, this program includes:

  • $30 million for law enforcement and detentions funding. 

  • $30 million for tribes in Public Law 83-280, also known as P.L. 280, states through the Social Services line.  The majority of tribes in these states do not receive law enforcement support from the BIA.  To address their unique needs, these funds can be used for tribal safety needs that fall outside of a formal law enforcement program.  

    The tribe can determine whether to reprogram them as necessary to other areas like tribal courts.  In addition, tribes can provide funding to BIA regional or agency offices for direct support services, if necessary.

  • $12.5 million will be held centrally to allocate for unexpected exigencies as necessary. 

Tips on how to use the American Rescue Plan Act to proactively fight crime can be found here.

The important thing for tribal leaders to remember, however, is that when they go for funding, they must be able to talk about how “the big picture” is going to help reduce crime, not how the latest technical solution alone is going to do it. That involves understanding all the challenges at every level in the organization, and at every level in the investigative process, whether it’s tribal law enforcement investigating a violent crime or a tribal enterprise looking into a fraudulent act.

In the end, it’s about tribal leaders understanding the need for digital transformation, finding the funding to embrace that need, and choosing the right partner to help them through the process.

Contact Danny O’Donnell at daniel.odonnel@cellebrite.com or 703-220-5854 to find out how Cellebrite can be that trusted partner.

Why Cellebrite?

Cellebrite’s (Nasdaq: CLBT) mission is to enable its customers to protect and save lives, accelerate justice, and preserve privacy in communities around the world. We are a global leader in Digital Intelligence solutions for the public and private sectors, empowering organizations in mastering the complexities of legally sanctioned digital investigations by streamlining intelligence processes.

Trusted by thousands of leading agencies and companies worldwide, Cellebrite’s Digital Intelligence platform and solutions transform how customers collect, review, analyze and manage data in legally sanctioned investigations.

Learn more by navigating through the website and at: https://investors.cellebrite.com.

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