- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - The U.S. Department of Justice will hold a conference in August to try to fix a flawed system that often prevents tribal governments from being able to enter information into criminal databases.

A domestic violence protection order against the father of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooter was never entered into any state or federal criminal database. If it had been, it would have caused Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr. to fail a background check and could have prevented him from buying the gun used by his son in the deadly October high school shooting that left four classmates and Jaylen Fryberg dead.

Raymond Fryberg now faces federal charges for buying that gun and others.

“The loss of young lives at Marysville-Pilchuck High School last October was a tragic reminder that this complex and multi-jurisdictional challenge must be met with a coordinated commitment from federal, state, and tribal agencies,” Wyn Hornbuckle, a spokesman for the agency, said Wednesday in an email.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that critics have long said the problem lies with the fact that state and federal officials have failed to establish a system that allows tribal courts to enter protection orders directly, or create a process that ensures it happens easily.

The National Congress of American Indians passed a resolution in October calling for the U.S. Attorney General to “enter into consultation with tribal governments on developing a comprehensive remedy for tribal government access to criminal databases.”

On Wednesday, the agency agreed to hold that meeting.

“The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division systems, including the National Crime Information Center, accept all qualifying data submitted by tribal agencies; however complex jurisdictional issues continue to present barriers,” Hornbuckle said. “To work toward developing solutions in this regard, the CJIS Division will host a conference in August for tribal agencies to address specific concerns.”

The groups will meet in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

John Dossett, general counsel for the National Congress of American Indians, said the announcement is a good start.

“A meeting is always the first step, but a meeting in and of itself isn’t going to solve the problem,” he said.

There are complicated technical issues that need to be resolved so that tribes can access the databases and enter criminal records, he said. What’s needed is leadership to ensure that the process runs smoothly, he said.

“We hope this is the start of that process,” he said.

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Follow Martha Bellisle at https://twitter.com/marthabellisle

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