San Juan County Sheriff slams the Navajo Nation for poor Law Enforcement
Weekend Edition | Jan. 12, 2012 | By: NPStaff Writer.
In a interview with the Daily Times, the San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen slammed the Navajo Nation for poor law enforcement, igniting tensions between the Sheriff’s Office and Navajo Nation officials. San Juan County is located in Northern New Mexico, extending into parts of the Navajo reservation.
The U.S. 550 along Bloomfield has seen a rise in drunk drivers, it is reported that 18 crashes occured and 2 people were killed last year alone.
Current acting Navajo Police Chief Dewayne Billisie was not available for comment.
According to the Daily Times, On July 16, 2010, a substation was built with $500,000 of county general funds with the intention of increasing police presence in the area and lowering response time near San Juan County. In an agreement between San Juan County and the Navajo Nation, the office was expected to be staffed full-time with Navajo Nation police officers, currently there are no police officers using the building.
“It’s a matter of committing resources,” Christesen said. “We are going to try to send people out on an everyday basis during the overlap time, send them out specifically to look for DWIs. We also will recruit some of our DWI grant money toward running direct patrols in that area to try and reduce the number of drunken drivers on the road.”
“To be quite frank, Crownpoint is nonexistent at the substation,” Christesen said Thursday.
The Sheriff also added “It’s a matter of committing resources,” Christesen said. “We are going to try to send people out on an everyday basis during the overlap time, send them out specifically to look for DWIs. We also will recruit some of our DWI grant money toward running direct patrols in that area to try and reduce the number of drunken drivers on the road.” Christesen said that the beefed-up patrols will include sobriety checkpoints.
Adding, the Navajo Nation is paying for the utilities as well as the communications for the substation. However, despite continued promises of a fully operational station, the building is largely vacant.
Navajo Nation spokesman Deswood Tome previously said that Huerfano falls under the jurisdiction of the Crownpoint Police Department, which is rotating shifts in and out of the substation and operating a criminal investigation office there.
Christesen believes that a full-time police presence with roving patrols out of the substation will add a much-needed deterrent to drunken driving on the remote road. Currently, The Navajo Nation Police Department is currently on a hiring freeze citing budget cuts and concerns and is not able to hire more Navajo officers to patrol parts of the reservation where public safety is of concern.