Police employees file 100-page complaint against boss

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

WINDOW ROCK, April 25, 2013

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E leven employees of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety last Thursday filled a massive complaint against the division's director, John Billison, charging him with using Gestapo tactics in running his division. The 100-page compliant filed before the Navajo Nation Labor Commission was signed by Emmett Yazzie, Yvonne Gorman, Anna Tsosie, Marvin Curley, Cornelia Tso, Esther Charley, Eric Francisco, Henry Moore, Stanley Ashley, Dave Johnson and Robert Platero.

All claim to have been treated unfairly by Billison at some time during the two years he has served as division director.

"Extraordinary problems call for extraordinary remedies," the complaint read. "Petitioners are employees who have been victims of merciless harassment at the hands of John Billison."

The complaint added that Billison "has used Gestapo-like tactics tactics to govern our law enforcement officers with fear and intimidation."

The complaints vary.

"Some have been whistle-blowers who are the victim of immediate and heavy-handed retaliation," said the complaint. "Some are harassed just in the normal exercise of their duties."

All of the people who filed the complaint have one thing in common - they say there will be "absolutely no relief from the harassment without the intervention of the labor commission."

One of the general charges in the complaint is that Billison has "misused and abused" the role of the department's Internal Affairs department.

"Internal Affairs is no longer a legitimate department of the Navajo Nation exercising self-policing of its own employees," the complaint stated. "Instead, Billison used Intern Affairs to target and remove his enemies. It has become an agency of harassment and intimidation."

This isn't the first complaint against Billison that has been filed before the commission. In fact, some tribal officials have said he has received more complaints that any division director in anyone's memory.

But the complaint says Billison has been able to get around these complaints by agreeing to settle the cases "with no intention of actually living up to his responsibilities under the settlement agreements."

Some of these former complaints were filed by people in this current complaint. They say Billison has not honored the former settlements.

Some of these complaints have been covered in the Navajo Times and in each case, the tribe's president, Ben Shelly, has stated publicly that he supports Billison. Because of this, said the complaint, Shelly "has become the passive participant in the harassment and intimidation."

Erny Zah, director of communications for Shelly, said in response to the complaint that Shelly's office is always open to tribal employees who feel they are being treated unfairly by their supervisors.

But he pointed out that the proper avenue for these types of complaints is the Navajo Labor Commission which was set up specifically to address these types of grievances.

The purpose of this avenue, Zah pointed out, was to make sure that tribal divisions and tribal programs run efficiently for the benefit of the Navajo people.

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