When tragedy hit the Navajo Nation Police department, that’s when Phillip Francisco believed it was time for him to give back to his Nation.
Navajo Nation Police officer Alex Yazzie’s fatal shooting in 2015 brought Francisco to the realization that he “wanted to give back to my people” and led him to apply for the nearly decades-long vacancy in the Navajo Nation Police Department’s highest office.
In July, the former Farmington Police officer, as well as current officer of the New Mexico Army National Guard, was named Navajo Nation chief of police, and now that he has started his new job he said the first course of action is to look at what the department needs to do in terms of improvement.
“I have to evaluate things and see how they’re running,” said Francisco. “It’s going to take a long process to do all that.”
At Francisco’s swearing-in ceremony Monday, leaders such as Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Vice President Jonathan Nez, Speaker of the Navajo Nation LoRenzo Bates, Council Delegate and Chairman of the Law and Order Committee Edmund Yazzie all highlighted the tough “burden” Francisco inherits upon accepting his new post.
“Thank you for answering the call. We know it’s a tough job,” said Begaye. “The challenges are there and we need someone who is well-versed in technology, that connects well with people, who is willing to establish partnerships so we appreciate Francisco stepping up.”
Begaye said there are at least 3,000 calls made each month requesting assistance of the Navajo police. The department has always lacked manpower, and currently more than 80 vacancies have yet to be filled. In an effort to entice others to fill the vacancies, Edmund Yazzie said his committee passed legislation for a raise in officer pay.
“Just like the chief’s position, this is long overdue,” said Yazzie. “We are actually locking in a pay raise for the officers of the Navajo Nation.”