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COVID-19 attacks Navajo Police recruits

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Navajo Nation Police Recruits, left, place their hand over their hearts and honor fallen Navajo Nation Senior Police Officer Michael Lee as he is escorted by the Navajo Nation Police Honor Guard on June 25 in Chinle.


The coronavirus has struck at the Navajo Police Training Academy.

According to a Navajo Nation Police news release, seven of the 16 recruits have contracted the virus, forcing the academy to temporarily suspend the class.

Phillip Francisco, the chief of police, said despite the precautions that should have kept the recruits and training staff virus-free for the duration of the six-month academy, it was not enough.

“We researched other department protocols, we paid attention to how government agencies established their academy centers, we reached out to our partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our local health care facilities.” Francisco said.

Recruits and staff are required to test for the virus. During the academy’s fifth testing phase, results for the seven unidentified recruits were positive.

This class at the academy began on June 15. They participated on June 25 during a funeral and burial services fallen Senior Police Officer Michael Lee who died on June 19.

All the recruits wore KN95 masks and were spread apart to practice social distancing.

“This disease has embedded its existence within our community, in the homes of our people, and within our department,” Francisco said. “The reality is we are all trying to face this global challenge by learning a new way of life while balancing safety and the public’s need.”

It is not known if academy training staff or the remaining police recruits have self-quarantined during the suspension.

About The Author

Donovan Quintero

"Dii, Diné bi Naaltsoos wolyéhíígíí, ninaaltsoos át'é. Nihi cheii dóó nihi másání ádaaní: Nihi Diné Bizaad bił ninhi't'eelyá áádóó t'áá háadida nihizaad nihił ch'aawóle'lágo. Nihi bee haz'áanii at'é, nihisin at'é, nihi hózhǫ́ǫ́jí at'é, nihi 'ach'ą́ą́h naagééh at'é. Dilkǫǫho saad bee yájíłti', k'ídahoneezláo saad bee yájíłti', ą́ą́ chánahgo saad bee yájíłti', diits'a'go saad bee yájíłti', nabik'íyájíłti' baa yájíłti', bich'į' yájíłti', hach'į' yándaałti', diné k'ehgo bik'izhdiitįįh. This is the belief I do my best to follow when I am writing Diné-related stories and photographing our events, games and news. Ahxéhee', shik'éí dóó shidine'é." - Donovan Quintero is an award-winning Diné journalist, who is based in Window Rock, Arizona. He can be contacted at


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