- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A Cherokee Nation citizen who is a veteran law enforcement officer was selected to serve as Oklahoma’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator, Oklahoma’s three U.S. attorneys announced in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Patti Buhl is a 25-year law enforcement veteran who most recently served as police chief of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. She previously worked with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, according to a release announcing her hire.

“The joint MMIP coordinator will maximize the collaborative efforts of the three Oklahoma United States Attorney’s Offices as we work toward our common goal of ensuring appropriate response to missing and murdered indigenous people in Oklahoma,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma Brian J. Kuester said in the statement.

The U.S. Department of Justice last year launched a national strategy to address missing and murdered Native Americans. The program includes $1.5 million to hire coordinators in 11 states, including Oklahoma.

An Associated Press investigation in 2018 found that nobody knows precisely how cases of missing and murdered Native American women happen nationwide because many cases go unreported, others aren’t well documented and no government database specifically tracks them.

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