Published May 9, 2016
WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA— Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez ordered the creation of an Alert System Task Force during a Division Director’s meeting on the morning of Monday, May 9, 2016.
The creation of the Alert System Task Force is seen as a direct reaction to the realization the Navajo Nation does not have an Amber Alert process in place when children are abducted on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
This fact came to last week in the long delay in getting word out about the abduction of 11-year-old Ashlynee Mike last Monday. She went missing late afternoon on Monday, but an Amber Alert was not issued until about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday.
The Task Force’s sole purpose is to develop and implement an alert system to notify the Navajo people of abductions and other emergencies.
President Begaye assigned Director of Division of Public Safety, Jesse Delmar and Director of Telecommunication, Theresa Hopkins to head the development of the Task Force.
“We need to come up with something formal. We need to identify areas of technology, specifically cell phone technology, that we can use to implement an alert system on the Navajo Nation,” Director Delmar said. “It needs to be done immediately.”
One goal of the alert system would be to reach all areas of the Nation including communities that might not have cellular service.
Director Hopkins said her office has already started to meet with carriers, both wired and wireless, to assess resources and infrastructure that will be needed to develop an alert system based on 911 and Amber Alert.
“We have tested a text messaging alert system with Cellular One and it was successful but we need to test it on a larger scale. We are consulting with both Frontier and Cellular One as they have the biggest investments here on the Nation,” Director Hopkins said.
The Alert System Task Force will include consultation and participation of pertinent Navajo Nation agencies and departments like the Division of Public Safety, Navajo Rangers, Forestry Department and Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.
“It’s time for us to put our foot down and get all the respective agencies on the same page to implement an alert system that will effectively notify the Navajo people of any abductions or other crises that affect their communities,” said President Russell Begaye.
The Alert System Task Force has set forth a timeframe of 60 days to get a system in place.