“With less than 200 officers on the Navajo Nation Police force, getting to this large amount is a lofty goal, especially when it comes to the budget.”Arlyssa Becenti Navajo Times, June 11, 2021
Navajo Police Chief Philip Francisco walks down a roll of newly recruited police officers at the Navajo Police Training Academy on Jan. 2 in Chinle, Arizona.(Photo by Sharon Chischilly/Navajo Times)
Excerpt: Navajo police need 775 new officers, report says...Arlyssa Becenti Navajo Times, June 11, 2021
“The Navajo Nation Police needs 775 officers to meet community demands across the Navajo Nation, according to an assessment done by Strategy Matter and Navajo public safety leadership…’The demands on this department are extreme,’ said Liz O’ Connor, consultant team lead. ‘The range of issues officers are called upon to address, the vast distances they must cross, and the limitation of radio and cellular coverage as well create a nearly impossible situation every day for so many officers in a department of this size.’
The Navajo Police Department’s assessment is 174 pages long and took 18 months to develop. The assessment was unveiled to the public in late May. With this assessment three basic questions are answered such as: Where are we now? Where we want to go? And how will we get there?
But the number of officers needed was the big takeaway from the report…’It’s a unique report for the Navajo Police Department,’ said Chief Phillip Francisco. ‘It’s a lot to digest…some of the recommendations is we are extremely short staffed. Seven hundred fifty would be the ideal number of officers to really do the job that our community demands and to keep our officers safe,’ he said. ‘We have a long way to go to get to that point.’
When it comes to the demands placed on the Navajo Nation Police, Navajo lawmakers are quick to express needed service from officers without investing in them. The biggest example is absolutely nothing is done to acquire safe buildings for officers and personnel in Window Rock and Shiprock.
Even more obvious is delegates continuing to advocate for outside police forces to come onto Navajo Nation to help police the Navajo people, an option that Francisco doesn’t agree with…Other weaknesses include: the sense of department unity is not consistently present; information flow is a real challenge for technical and organizational reasons; facilities, the Window Rock station is in a serious state of disrepair, and the Shiprock station is closed; general orders and rules and regulations are outdated (1979) and unhelpful; COVID-19 impacts: it is harder than ever to connect with residents; there is significantly increased demand on dwindling resources at NPD and for partners; recruitment challenges: money, interest, training, disqualifications, available housing, and perceptions among youth.
But the strengths identified include: commitment and dedication of officers at all ranks; younger generation of NPD staff see the department as a unified whole; greatly improved—and growing—confidence in department leadership, among officers, civilian staff, partners and others; thorough (top to mid-managers) commitment to officer wellness and improving early intervention programs; partners and potential partners recognize the challenging circumstances of law enforcement on the Nation and want to support efforts to improve operations, safety, and coordination.
For this, the Strategy Matters and public safety leadership consulting team suggested that NPD set an initial target of 500 personnel, with 300 serving as patrol officers, and 200 serving as command and support personnel. These numbers are based on a budget-driven authorized-level approach the Nation has been using and the workload-based approach. ‘We learned the NPD leadership is visionary, highly accountable, and trusted by officers, residents, and staff alike,’ said O’Connor. “Invest in this department.”