Nora Mae Lee celebrates retirement after 41-years with Navajo Police Dept.
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Police Department Information Management Section (IMS) honored retired employee Nora Mae Lee during a small outdoor celebration at the Navajo Division of Public Safety building in Window Rock, Arizona April 23.
Lee dedicated 41 years of service to the department having retired from her professional career as the Police Identification Technician Dec. 31.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Lee’s retirement recognition was postponed, until today, when staff honored Lee with a plaque and Pendleton blanket, commemorating her years of service with the department.
As the department's pioneer in fingerprinting, Lee’s decades of contributions included classifying fingerprints, developing a fingerprint database, assisting in identification in criminal justice cases, developing fingerprint policy and procedures, and being a trailblazer the department’s modern application of automated fingerprint identification system.
In addition to her major contribution to criminal cases, Lee also worked with the public as she was often called the “fingerprint lady”. Members of the public may recall getting their fingerprints taken by Lee during their employment application process or meeting her at the fair, where she fingerprinted the public and children at fair expos.
Beginning her career in 1979, Lee’s specific commitment was to the commissioned officers and criminal justice programs with the Navajo Division of Public Safety. However, throughout her years, Lee expanded her skills and saw her responsibilities broadening in a profession she continued until her retirement.
Reflecting on her time with the department, Lee shared memories of working with police districts, the Division of Public Safety departments, and the public. As colleagues described her as humoristic, helpful, nice, and hardworking, Lee fondly recalls also being known as “grandma” to her colleagues, a term she embraced with pride.
“I enjoyed working with the department, with the districts, and the public. Sometimes I find myself thinking about my coworkers and wonder how they are doing. Sometimes I will hear a siren and worry about the officers and hope they are all ok,” Lee said. “I hope they know that ‘grandma’ worries about them and I want them to take care of themselves and to be safe.”
Navajo Chief of Police Phillip Francisco expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the many years of contribution and service by Lee.
“On behalf of the Navajo Police Department, we thank you, Nora, for your 41 years of service. We wish you a happy retirement filled with family, friends, happiness, and good health,” he said.
Division Director Jesse Delmar also offered his remarks, reflecting on the challenging year public safety has experienced due to COVID-19, and expressed his appreciation to Lee and the division’s professional staff.
“It is truly an honor to be here to recognize your 41 years of service to the department. The work we do in law enforcement is challenging, not just at the ground level but the many levels that make a department.” Director Delmar said. “On behalf of the Division of Public Safety and the Navajo Nation, thank you, for your dedication, service, and the important role you played in the success of the Navajo Division of Public Safety.”
Delmar also thanked Lee’s spouse and children for her success with the department, “I want to acknowledge your family as well and say thank you to them. Thank you for sharing your mother with us all these years.”
Although she naturally finds herself thinking of her colleagues in her retirement, Nora says she is enjoying her time with her family and grandchildren.
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