Press Release

For Immediate Release:
January 15, 2021

WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney today announced the appointment of Charles Addington as the Senior Advisor – Law Enforcement, Security and School Safety in the Office of the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs and the appointment of Jason O’Neal as the Deputy Bureau Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS). The appointments become effective January 17, 2021.

Addington, a member of the Cherokee Nation, had been serving as OJS’s Deputy Bureau Director since December 24, 2017. Addington has over 29 years of law enforcement experience, 25 of which are in the management of Indian Country law enforcement programs.

O’Neal, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, had been serving as OJS’s Assistant Deputy Bureau Director since June 9, 2019. O’Neal has over 25 years of law enforcement experience, 21 of which he has served in Indian Country.

“The position of Senior Advisor - Law Enforcement, Security and School Safety appropriately elevates the commitment of Indian Affairs to seamlessly address the complex public safety challenges within Indian Country in close coordination with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS),” said Assistant Secretary Sweeney. “I am confident that Senior Advisor Addington and BIA-OJS Deputy Bureau Director O’Neal, along with the Bureau of Indian Education and Bureau of Trust Funds Administration, will work cooperatively to ensure our communities and schools are safe.”

Prior to becoming deputy bureau director, Addington had served as the deputy associate director for OJS’s drug enforcement division, where he led the Bureau’s National Drug Enforcement program, which is responsible for complex drug, gang, border, and human trafficking investigations affecting Indian Country.

Given his extensive knowledge of the Indian Country public safety field, Addington has served on several of the Interior Department’s high-level initiatives to improve public safety in tribal communities, including the Operation Lady Justice Presidential Task Force, where he led the implementation of the new Indian Affairs cold case team offices and the Safe Indian Communities Presidential High Priority Goal (HPPG) and comprehensive Protecting Indian Country projects.

In 2013, Addington was among 31 finalists, and the only Interior Department employee, for that year’s Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals. The finalists were cited for having shown a strong commitment to public service and for having made significant contributions that are innovative, high-impact and critical for the nation. Addington was recognized for developing and implementing an innovative law enforcement program that had reduced the high violent crime rate on four Indian reservations by 35 percent, which served as a model for addressing the issue in other Native American communities.

Addington is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He will serve as the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs’ designee on the Operation Lady Justice Task Force.

“I deeply appreciate Assistant Secretary Sweeney for providing me with this tremendous opportunity to further enhance Indian Affairs’ public safety and school safety programs in this new position,” Addington said. “I’m looking forward to working closely with the BIA and BIE directors, OJS leadership, tribal leaders, tribal law enforcement, and our federal, state, and local partners on finding innovative ways to fight violent crime and strengthen public safety throughout Indian Country.”

O'Neal began his law enforcement career as a military police canine handler in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he handled both narcotic and explosive detector dogs.

O’Neal then joined the BIA-OJS serving as a uniformed police officer and supervisory police officer throughout the country. He left federal service to be appointed as tribal chief of police for the Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Department in Oklahoma, where he served for eight years championing multiple cross-deputation partnerships.

He returned to federal law enforcement in 2012 with the BIA-OJS where he has served as a special agent in charge, deputy associate director and, lastly, as the assistant director in the BIA-OJS Washington, D.C., office. O’Neal will serve as the BIA’s appointee to the Operation Lady Justice Task Force.

“I greatly appreciate Assistant Secretary Sweeney and Director LaCounte for providing me this tremendous leadership opportunity,” O’Neal said. “I’m looking forward to continuing the great work OJS has been championing for Indian Country and our efforts to strengthen our partnerships with tribal leaders and Indian Country communities.”

The Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs advises the Secretary of the Interior on Indian Affairs policy issues, communicates policy to and oversees the programs of the BIA and the BIE, provides leadership in consultations with tribes, and serves as the DOI official for intra- and inter-departmental coordination and liaison within the Executive Branch on Indian matters.


Sandstone ruins in Arizona.
Sandstone ruins in Arizona.

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