Navajo officer honored in D.C.

Officer Alex K. Yazzie’s family stands in front of the White House. Yazzie was recognized during the annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in Washington D.C. May 22. Yazzie passed away a year ago. Submitted photo

Officer Alex K. Yazzie’s family stands in front of the White House. Yazzie was recognized during the annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in Washington D.C. May 22. Yazzie passed away a year ago. Submitted photo

WASHINGTON - On May 22, fallen Navajo Nation Police Officer Alex K. Yazzie, who passed away a year ago, was recognized during the 35th annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service in Washington, D.C.

"Yazzie was a brave, humble and selfless person who dedicated his life to protecting our communities and people," said a statement from the Office of the President and Vice President.

Law and Order Committee chair Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie (Churchrock, Iyanbito, Mariano Lake, Pinedale, Smith Lake, Thoreau) and vice chair Council Delegate Raymond Smith, Jr. (Houck, Klagetoh, Nahata Dziil, Tsé Si áni, Wide Ruins) were in attendance to support the Yazzie family at the memorial service

"We need to continue to support the families of our fallen officers," Delegate Yazzie said. "They also sacrificed their loved ones to protect our communities and people. I can't imagine the pain they experience every day. This is a very emotional moment for the family. As policy makers, we must do what we can to protect our Navajo officers in the line of duty."

The National Peace Officers' Memorial Service and National Police Week drew between 25,000 to 40,000 attendees. The events are sponsored by the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and Concerns of Police Survivors.

Alex's wife, Marenda Yazzie, children and other family members attended the National Police Week and were among tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world to participate in a number of planned events to honor officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Officer Yazzie was one of the 136 officers that were recognized in front of the U.S. Capitol building May 22.

"It has been an emotional week but it was comforting to be among families of fallen officers," Marenda Yazzie said. "We enjoyed all the seminars that were offered throughout the week. The children also attended events and made new connections. This week was dedicated to healing and remembrance. We will never forget my husband's legacy and the love and warmth he had for his family and the community. We miss him dearly every day."

Officer Yazzie was the first applicant selected to become a Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Enforcement Officer. In 2005, he graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center with a Criminal Investigation certification. Yazzie was assigned to patrol the Eastern Navajo Agency, Tohajilee Navajo, Alamo Navajo, and Ramah Navajo for several years before he became an officer for the Shiprock District.

During the memorial service, Yazzie's surviving family members were escorted by Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper David Romero and Navajo Nation Lt. Philip Yazzie. Yazzie's name will be carved on the memorial wall, along with more than 20,000 officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to work with Officer Yazzie," said Lt. Philip Yazzie. "He was an ambitious officer who did anything to protect his family, fellow officers, and community members. He will always be remembered as a brave individual. This remembrance also allows us to remember our Navajo Nation police officers and their needs. The Navajo Nation needs more protection laws for our officers, so we don't have to experience this again."

Smith said he was honored to spend time with the Yazzie family as they paid tribute to police officers.

"We honor and thank the family of Alex Yazzie for serving and protecting our people and our communities," he said.

National Police Week is observed from May 15 to May 21.

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