Navajo criminal investigator to head new 'missing and murdered' DOJ initiative in New Mexico

Denise Billy of the Navajo Nation has been appointed to a new DOJ position that will help to coordinate missing persons and homicide cases on tribal lands in New Mexico.

New Mexico U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson appointed a Navajo criminal investigator to a new post Monday (July 27) where she will assist the state's tribal nations in solving missing persons and homicide cases, part of a new Department of Justice initiative.

As the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator for New Mexico, Denise Billy will gather data on new cases connected to tribal lands. She will also work with victims, tribal, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to develop protocols and procedures to respond to them. Billy is a former criminal investigator for Isleta Pueblo.

"I am delighted that Ms. Billy is joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office as our first MMIP Coordinator,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson. “Ms. Billy served in many law enforcement capacities for years, which I believe will suit her well in this new position. Developing national and local protocols to address the MMIP crisis is a priority for the Department of Justice and for the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in New Mexico. I have every confidence that Ms. Billy will make valuable contributions to this effort.”

Prior to her time working for law enforcement at Isleta Pueblo, Billy served as a criminal investigator and patrol officer for the Navajo Nation. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Phoenix and is currently working on a master's degree in law and indigenous people's law from the University of Oklahoma.

Billy's appointment to her new post is part of a national strategy to address cases involving missing and murdered Native Americans launched by U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Nov. 22, 2019. The Department of Justice allocated $1.5 million to hire coordinators like Billy in 10 other states.

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