Navajo Police Training Academy suspends activities after seven recruits test positive for virus
CHINLE, Ariz. — The Navajo Police Training Academy has temporarily suspend activities after seven recruits tested positive for coronavirus July 7.
The academy resumed operations in mid-June after a three-month hiatus in response to the coronavirus pandemic on the Navajo Nation. The current class has sixteen police recruits.
“This disease has embedded its existence within our community, in the homes of our people, and within our department. The reality is we are all trying to face this global challenge by learning a new way of life while balancing safety and the public’s need,” said Navajo Nation Police Chief Philip Francisco.
While academies across the United States resumed, the Navajo Police Training Academy elected to refrain from training activities for three months to research and develop best practices under COVID-19 conditions before formally resuming its training program.
“We put in place all the precautionary measures but this disease is unpredictable and we are assessing our current procedures and plans to build a stronger foundation,” Francisco said.
As part of the academy reopening process, recruits and staff were required to test regularly. The academy completed its fifth series of tests when the positive COVID-19 cases were identified.
Recruits and staff are working with academy leadership to ensure they have resources available to assist them during their time of recovery and to offer alternative accommodations if needed. The recruits and academy staff will remain in quarantine and isolation as they monitor their symptoms.
“This is the current situation. It is the reality of our profession. The best defense against this disease is to stay home but as public safety personnel, we do not have that option,” Francisco said. “The community needs us and the services we provide is critical as we are the only program in full operations.”
Francisco said the agency needs to have its academy training in order to produce reliable officers to serve the public.
“There will be difficulties across all spectrums of reopening; whether it’s this academy, government services, school services, or any other public interactions. We will acknowledge those challenges, examine our systems in place, and continue to move forward,” he said.
In the interim, Navajo Police Training Academy is looking into alternative teaching sites for Class 55 who remain vigilant and committed to completing training.
“We fight the fight, never surrender Class 55, now and forever” is the class motto police recruits adopted as their guiding principle to endure the challenges faced during training.
“I believe that motto reflects the heart and strength of this group,” said Navajo Police Training Academy Sgt. Wallace Billie. “It is the words they used to motivate them during training and will be the words we will use as pillars of strength to get us through these challenging times.”
Information provided by Navajo Nation Police Department