A dozen students are expected to graduate later this month from the Navajo Police Training Academy in Chinle, according to the Navajo Police Department, though the students must complete final assessments before passing through the academy.
The department has reported severe understaffing amid the expanse of Diné land. The NPD has continued to hold recruitment drives in recent months.
A report released by the department in late May described staff levels as “dangerously low.” NPD Police Chief Phillip Francisco has called to bolster the department to a force of 500 officers. According to the May assessment, only 189 officers were employed within the NPD.
The NPD report suggested a change in curriculum to increase graduation rates within the academy.
“The [department] needs to look for ways to support these young officers and not look for ways to ‘wash them out,’” the organizational assessment said.
The report also expressed concern over unreliable cell phone and radio service in rural areas on the Navajo Nation, and called for a stronger focus on substance use disorder and domestic violence response.