WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On Mar. 27, the Budget and Finance Committee passedthe Navajo Nation Public Safety System Fund Act of 2017 by a vote of two in favor and one opposed.
“We support this legislation to establish a public safety fund with the Ramah Settlement Funds to address public safety concerns within our Nation,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. “We urge our communities to support the Navajo Nation Public Safety System Fund Act of 2017 to strengthen our public safety system for generations to come.”
As stated in the legislation, the Navajo Nation Public Safety System Fund income, earned from the principal, will be used to improve and expand the protections offered by the Navajo Nation’s criminal justice system.
“This fund will assist our public safety participants the opportunity to take on the most vicious monsters that plague our people: violence and substance abuse,” said Vice President Jonathan Nez. “This fund will equip our warriors with the tools necessary to fight these monsters and ensure healthier, safer communities.”
Letters of support were added to the legislation and signed by Begaye, Nez, Acting Chief Justice Allen Sloan, Attorney General Ethel Branch, Chief Prosecutor Gertrude Lee, Department of Health Director Ramona Antone-Nez, Division of Public Safety Director Jesse Delmar, Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco, Navajo Public Defender Director Kathleen Bowman, and Division of Social Services Director Terrelene Massey.
The fund will allow system participants to tap into the fund income to cover shortfalls and respond dramatically to shifts in crime levels.
“The entities working in the Nation’s criminal justice and public safety system have come together in a collaborative manner to support the creation of this fund,” Branch said. “The fund will allow us to add a number of much-needed officer, prosecutor, defender, and judge positions to strengthen our overall system. Over time, by growing this fund, we also hope to fund capital projects, like police sub-stations, detox facilities and domestic violence centers.”