Nez vetoes funds for public safety, police report efforts to get PPEs
On Saturday, President Jonathan Nez vetoed a resolution passed by the Navajo Nation Council, which allocated $2.4 million of supplemental funding from the Undesignated, Unreserved Fund Balance for the Division of Public Safety.
Nez stated in his veto memo that with the appropriation of $4 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, they negotiated for police officer pay and extra duty pay to support front-line personnel.
There is also $1 million allocated for personal protection equipment and supplies to sanitize offices and equipment.
“The Office of Management and Budget has raised concerns about this budget,” stated Nez. “Three concerns include…individual police districts are not mentioned in the budget, the Fire and Rescue Services is a special revenue account…and the Department of Emergency Management budget is unbalanced in the amount of $1,000.”
As of Saturday, coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation reached 5,250, according to Navajo Nation health officials. Recoveries from the virus have reached 1,814, with more reports pending.
As for deaths, on Friday 61 fatalities resulted when the Navajo Epidemiology Center cross-referenced its numbers and reconciled its data with that of state partners. By Saturday night another 10 deaths were reported, totaling 241 deaths from the virus.
The Navajo Nation Police reported the distribution over 28,717 masks, 22,000 pairs of gloves, and other miscellaneous PPEs to over 200 commissioned officers.
However, the department continues to plan for future needs.
“In the beginning, like many law enforcement departments across the United States, we experienced the challenges of getting much-needed PPEs for the department,” stated Chief Phillip Francisco.
“Unfortunately, the influx in demand for PPEs caused delays on purchase as manufacturers worked to fulfill orders, not just for law enforcement but for health care facilities,” he said.
Through their weekly inventory reports, each police district has an inventory balance of about 4,000 facemasks, 2,000 gloves, and other miscellaneous PPEs on hand for officers.
“We continue to plan for the long term,” stated Francisco. “We will keep working with our program partners in keeping that supply steady until we can secure the bulk needs through HCOC.”
The department has established over 12 COVID-19 related operations that included public service announcements checkpoints, community education initiatives, and enforcement of Navajo Nation public health curfew orders, in addition to its daily service calls.