The state of Colorado introduced a new piece of legislation solely focused on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR). The new bill intends to create an office dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) within Colorado’s Department of Public Safety.
By doing this, MMIW cases will experience better coordination across law enforcement, improved response times, and greater awareness surrounding the issue.
Setting An Example
Colorado’s initiative to end what most state government officials consider an epidemic sets an example for states across the country. The new legislation, entitled “End the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives,” is sponsored by Senators Jessie Danielson, Monica Duran, and Leslie Herod.
The bill’s primary objective is to build a new office to improve departmental communication. That said, collaboration with federally recognized tribes, Indigenous-led organizations, Colorado State Patrol, and other state departments is an essential piece to the bill’s effectiveness.
Although it was recently announced, the MMIR legislation has been in the works for just over a year, according to Sen. Danielson. For several months, Danielson worked closely with Indigenous community leaders to learn about how this issue directly impacts the tribes.
Also, by working together, it ensured “we were doing this the right way, the way the Indigenous community needs the state of Colorado to respond to MMIR,” Danielson explained.
How Colorado’s Bill Puts An End To A Nation-Wide Epidemic
Colorado’s MMIR bill addresses the unique challenges associated with MMIW cases head-on in hopes of relieving the heartbreaking epidemic. For example, MMIW cases are consistently the victim of:
- Poor and inconsistent reporting
- Lack of interagency cooperation
- Misclassification of racial identity
- Less coverage in the media
As a result, family members of missing Indigenous women are often left in the dark and receive little to no closure. But, Colorado’s new piece of legislation outlines specific strategies and efficient protocols to combat this problem.
One piece of Colorado’s MMIR bill serves to improve the response time of MMIR cases. To do so, the dedicated office will establish:
- An MMIR alert system
- A system to better train first responders while handling MMIR cases
- Improvements to the ways people can report a missing person
Second, interagency coordination is a significant factor in MMIW cases. By improving data tracking and accuracy, officials across all law enforcement offices will have all the information they need to handle cases instead of bits and pieces.
Better Supporting Indigenous Communities
Another integral aspect of Colorado’s MMIR bill is improving the relationship between law enforcement and Indigenous communities. For example, the bill lays out various ways the state will serve families of MMIW, which include:
- Reviewing cold cases
- Provide sentencing recommendations
- Educate law enforcement on best practices when handling MMIW cases
Additionally, through developing prevention measures and increased public awareness about MMIR, Colorado state officials hope to offer more support for Indigenous communities.
Overall, the direct attack to make MMIW cases less prevalent is invaluable to relatives affected by the circumstances.
MMIW: An Issue That Demands More Attention
Colorado is one of a growing number of states that have begun putting specific legislation into law to address MMIW. For several years, the number of cases concerning missing Indigenous women has been consistently underreported.
As a result, statistics don’t represent the full gravity of the situation. On top of that, murder rates are higher amongst Native women than non-Native women, even though Native Americans only make up 2% of the national population.
So, with Colorado joining the growing force set on ending this epidemic, waves of change are in the works. Not only will this draw attention to a pressing issue, but it also gives affected families a sense of support.