Council Delegates and public safety officials urge Congress for more funds

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
202-682-7390

For Immediate Release

Council Delegates and public safety officials urge Congress for more funds

WASHINGTON—This week Navajo Nation Council Delegates Edmund Yazzie, Kee Allen Begay, Jr., and Raymond Smith urged Congressional staffers to appropriate more funds to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for law enforcement and corrections. Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco, Chief Prosecutor Gertrude Lee, Public Safety Director Jesse Delmar, and Department of Corrections Director Delores Greyeyes accompanied the delegates in their meetings on Capitol Hill.

With President Trump’s budget expected to be released on May 23, the delegates and the public safety officials visited the offices of Reps. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.). They also met with Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Ruben Gallego making them aware of the public safety issues on the Navajo Nation. The group also met with the Office of Tribal Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice to strategize on how to maximize law enforcement efforts.

Additionally, they visited the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs majority and minority staff, the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian Affairs majority staff, and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Justice majority and minority staff.

“It was great that we came together to advocate for public safety on the Navajo Nation,” said Delegate Edmund Yazzie.

Public Safety Director Jesse Delmar stated, “crime on the Navajo Nation is alarmingly high, we came here to not only advocate for the people, but for the overworked staff that do the best with what they have.”

The Navajo Police Department lost three police officers in the line of duty in the past three years. It was National Police week, and the nation’s capital was flooded with law enforcement officers from around the country.

Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco stated, “I was asked by other law enforcement officers what the response time for back-up was, they were in awe when I told them it was an hour to two hours. We are raising awareness to Congress of the crisis that Navajo police are dealing with.”

“We are here asking appropriators for more dollars in law enforcement, and for more dollars for treatment programs. I don’t want to create a revolving door of the same offenders because there are no treatment programs for those who violate the law due to substance or drug abuse,” said Chief Prosecutor Gertrude Lee.

“Currently, there are no funds for counselors to come into the correction facilities to help the inmates. If we had counselors this would help us reduce the recidivism rate,” said Delores Greyeyes, Director for the Department of Corrections.

Lastly, the group talked about the outdated technology and lack of housing on the Navajo Nation. Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. stated “the outdated technology on the reservation puts our officers and people at risk.” “The lack of professional and employee housing has been one of the biggest barriers to public safety recruitment,” said Delegate Raymond Smith.

The delegates and public safety officials will continue advocating for public safety on the Navajo Nation until it is stabilized.

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