New law in Oklahoma designed to to address issue of missing and murdered indigenous persons
Senate Bill 172, also known as Ida’s Law has taken effect and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is taking steps to implement the law. Ida’s Law was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature and signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt in April of this year.
The bill states that upon securing federal funding, an Office of Liaison Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons shall be established to coordinate efforts and gather data to in the state of Oklahoma. Despite a lack of funding at this point, OSBI Director Ricky Adams is taking steps to implement the bill on behalf of missing and murdered indigenous persons in Oklahoma.
“Every life is important. Our goal is to work with our law enforcement partners at all levels – tribal, local, state and federal – to ensure every case involving American Indian individuals is thoroughly investigated,” said Director Adams. “In addition to our agents, criminalists and intelligence analysts, who are available to assist with all aspects of an investigation, the Bureau has high-tech resources and other tools available to the tribes to help solve cases involving their citizens.”
After the bill passed in April, Director Adams assigned Special Agent Dale Fine to be the Bureau’s liaison to the tribes to implement Ida’s Law. Additionally, OSBI Victim Services Coordinator Christy Pata, has been assigned to help indigenous families as they work through the state and federal legal system.
“We applaud the creation and permanent staffing of an OSBI office to take on the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Mr. Fine, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is an exceptional choice to head up the new initiative. He has a long and distinguished career in safety and law enforcement, including with tribal law enforcement. Tribes and Indian people in Oklahoma have a true expert within this new office, and I know he will commit the needed time and resources to stop crime against Native people and bring justice for victims and their families.”
Agent Fine is working with Tribal partners to identify funding sources, outside of federal grants, to fully staff the Office. Funding will assist the OSBI with developing best practices for law enforcement’s response to missing persons reports involving native persons, facilitating training for law enforcement and members of the public on issues relating to missing and murdered indigenous persons, and to promote community relations and develop best practices for community organizations that serve indigenous populations.
Agent Fine can be contacted at the OSBI’s Northeast Regional Office by calling (918) 582-9075 and Christy Pata can be reached at OSBI Headquarters by calling (405) 848-6724 or you can reach either at firstname.lastname@example.org.