MMIW meeting

FILE — Yakama Nation General Council secretary Lottie Sam addresses substance addiction and offers a supportive hand to victims of abuse during a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women community meeting with the Yakama Nation Tribal Leadership and ladies of the committee at Yakama Legends Casino, 580 Fort Road in Toppenish, Wash., on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. “We are done crying, we wish to take action,” Sam said.

Yakama Nation leaders are taking several steps to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women, according to an op-ed in Sunday’s Yakima Herald-Republic by members of the Tribal Council’s MMIW Committee.

Those steps include utilization of the state’s Homicide Investigation Tracking System, which is maintained by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. HITS includes investigators and the HITS database, which is a software application designed to store crime-related information voluntarily contributed by police and sheriffs’ departments in the Pacific Northwest.

The database is a central repository for detailed information on violent crimes occurring in Washington and Oregon, the overview notes. Its development began in 1987 in response to a need identified by cases involving serial killers such as Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway.

The most outstanding feature of the HITS computer is its ability to analyze large quantities of violent crime information quickly. The HITS program collects, analyzes, links and then provides investigators with information that aids in arrests and prosecution.

A HITS investigator spoke to Tribal Council members about HITS during their July 3 Tribal Council monthly session, Carol Craig reported in a Yakama Nation Review story. At that point, officials were still considering the possibility of participating.

As of May, the Yakama Nation’s police department had six unsolved cases involving missing or murdered men and women and 18 historical “cold cases” that remain unsolved.

A report from the Washington State Patrol in June said Yakima County had 20 Native women who were missing at that time.

Reach Tammy Ayer at tayer@yakimaherald.com or on Facebook.