Public intoxication soaks up police time, budget

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Navajo Nation Police Officer Jershon Begay escorts an elderly Navajo man into the Window Rock Detention Center on Wednesday. Begay found the man lying next to the Quality Inn driveway, and arrested him for public intoxication.

WINDOW ROCK

Last year, Navajo Nation Police handled 16,452 public intoxication, or PI, calls across the reservation, with each call lasting an average of two hours. And it seems that trend will continue.

Such was the case on Feb. 2, when a Window Rock police officer got a call from the dispatcher at 5:28 p.m., to respond to a report of a mother and grandfather, both intoxicated. The dispatcher told the officer the two people had a 6-year-old child with them. The officer arrived six minutes later to the Tsehootsoi Medical Center in Fort Defiance, which is where the dispatcher said the report was coming from.

After a four-minute search and speaking with hospital security, the officer located the person. It turned out it was only one person, not two, who was reported to be intoxicated. It also turned out the “mother” was actually the child’s sober grandmother to whom hospital security had released the child. The officer had already invested 12 minutes – and counting – into the call.

After ensuring the Whitecone man, no age given, was found to have no outstanding warrants, the officer radioed his dispatcher that he was going to transport the arrested man to jail.

By 6:07 p.m., the officer had the man booked into jail. Now came the time for the officer to write out the police report around 7 p.m.

The officer wrote in his incident report that he had made contact with the man who, he said, “had urinated on himself and was staggering while attempting to walk” along Navajo Route 7, near the hospital. He added the man “had the odor of intoxicating liquor emitting from this person.” He had placed him in handcuffs and told the man he was arresting for him public intoxication, he explained in the report.

After he completed the report, the officer then completed a criminal complaint on the man that stated he violated Title 17 of the Navajo Nation Criminal Code.

He completed the call around 7:30 p.m., two hours after first receiving the call.


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