Navajo Nation discusses need for additional police officers in rural areas

Nation has around 230 police officers to patrol 27,000 square miles of land

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — During a special meeting Oct. 30, the Law and Order Committee (LOC) received reports from Alamo school board members representing the communities of Nageezi and Huerfano, regarding the need for additional police officers to serve rural areas of the Navajo Nation.

The two reports were from board members Steven Apache and Etta Arviso.

Apache stated the community of Alamo is affected by high crime rates, drug and substance abuse and vandalism. The community, which is located south of Albuquerque, does not have a full-time police officer, Apache added.

Arviso raised concerns over the high rate of sexual assaults and violence within the Nation and requested for more police officers to serve the community of Nageezi.

LOC member Council Delegate Otto Tso (Tó Nanees Dizi) sympathized with the request for police officers and substations within the rural communities of the Nation.

“I clearly understand that the Navajo Nation Police Department (NNPD) does not have enough police officers to provide public safety services for the Nation, but the shortage should not influence the safety concerns of the people. NNPD needs to strategically plan to spread the service coverage,” Tso said.

According to Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety director Jesse Delmar, there are approximately 230 police officers to cover 27,000-square-miles of land.

LOC member Council Delegate Herman Daniels, Jr. (Shonto, Naa’tsis’Áán, Oljato, Ts’ah Bii Kin) stressed the need for more cross-commissioning agreements with counties to increase law enforcement presence.

“Due to the extreme shortage of police officers on the Nation, rural communities, NNPD, and NNDPS need to work together to address the needs. Cross-commissioning agreements also allows access to additional officers, which is an option I highly suggest until we get more officers,” Daniels said.

Delmar added, “NNDPS highly encourages rural communities to begin recruiting individuals, who could potentially be police officers for their communities.”

LOC chair Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie (Churchrock, Iyanbito, Mariano Lake, Pinedale, Smith Lake, Thoreau) recommended Delmar correspond with Apache and Arviso regarding their community’s public safety concerns and issues.

The LOC approved both reports with a vote of 3-0 and scheduled a follow-up meeting for Nov. 27 at Nageezi Chapter.

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