911 and Amber Alert system on horizon for Navajo Nation

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye applauded the Alert System Task Force for quickly developing a 911 system, an Amber alert notification system and an overall emergency alert system for the Nation and continuing to meet a 60-day deadline.

Training for all districts began May 23.

"[On May 20], our task force [received] equipment that will assist them in training and implementing an Amber alert system here on the Nation," Begaye said. "By next week, we will have trained individuals who will be able to access these emergency systems."

The task force met May 18 to address logistical concerns in developing an emergency notification system across the Navajo Nation. The task force includes members from the Division of Public Safety, the Department of Emergency Management, the Division of Natural Resources and the Navajo Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.

"This isn't a two department initiative. It's a Navajo Nation wide initiative," said Theresa Hopkins, executive director of the Navajo Telecommunications Regulatory Commission. "We will continue to expand our reach to include other pertinent departments."

The primary focus of the task force is to develop the ability to send out notifications regionally while working with all telecommunication carriers and communication services.

"We need to invest our efforts into developing this regional alert system," said Jesse Delmar, director of the Division of Public Safety. "Today we identified issues that will become part of our plan. We currently organizing our departments and resources to strategize this notification system."

On a national scale, the task force is looking to develop agreements with national broadcast services to distribute these notices.

Harland Cleveland, Emergency Services coordinator with Emergency Management, said the task force is applying for certification to be a part of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

"The federal government utilizes this alert system," he said. "Through IPAWS the Nation would be able to activate alert disseminators like the Emergency Alert System, the Wireless Alert System and tap into the NOAA Weather Radio System among other systems."

The task force is currently working through drafting an Emergency Notification Policy and User Agreement as a part of the notification system.

"The Task Force has been mandated to have a system in place within 60 days," Begaye said. "They have committed to the schedule of meeting weekly and judging by this morning's meeting, they are on track in getting the system developed."

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