Published May 21, 2017
WASHINGTON – On May 16, Vice President Jonathan Nez attended the U.S. Department of Interior 2017 Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony and paid respect to fallen officers from around the country. The event was a part of National Police Week 2017 – Legacy of Honor – a week-long event from May 15 to 21, 2017 to honor officers who reached the end of watch.
The names of Navajo Police fallen officers are included on the memorial wall of engraved names at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, a site Vice President Nez has visited during his term of office. Etchings of the names of Navajo fallen officers are on display above his workstation at the tribal headquarters in Window Rock, Arizona, which he says reminds him daily of the sacrifices made by our first responders.
“We must re-instill respect for parents into our children. This in turn, will result in respect for police, veterans, elected leaders, and other figures of authority. It’s important we talk to our children about this fundamental value,” he said.
The Begaye-Nez administration has worked with the tribal council and law enforcement officials for a memorial wall that will be constructed at Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park to honor the fallen Navajo Police officers. The recent passing of Navajo Police Officer Houston J. Largo from the Crownpoint District shook the Navajo Nation.
Navajo Division of Public Safety Executive Director Jesse Delmar and Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco observed National Police Week in Washington, D.C., including tribal councilmen Edmund Yazzie, Raymond Smith and Kee Allen Begay, members of the Law and Order Committee of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council. Delores Greyeyes, Navajo Department of Corrections Manager, also attended the events.
Darren Cruzan, Acting Director for the Department of Interior Law Enforcement Services, provided opening remarks on behalf of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Deputy Assistant Secretrary James Cason.
“We consider ourselves brothers and sisters because we are a family,” he said, referring to the family of law enforcement.
The purpose of this week is to honor and pay tribute to honor those who have worn the law enforcement badge and lost their lives in the line of duty, Cruzan said.
DOI Assistant Secretary James Cason provided the keynote address and said he was honored to attend the 10th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony.
“We welcome the family, friends and colleagues of the fallen officers. Your presence here today is a great honor to us and the employees of the department,” Cason said. “You loved one’s name has been added to the memorial wall this year.
“We will never forget your officers and the incredible service your family has made. National Police Week provides us a special occasion to give thanks to our nation’s brave law enforcement officers,” he added.
In 2016, 143 law enforcement officers nationwide lost their lives in the line of duty.
Vice President Nez said, “Navajo Police officers face unknown dangers daily and they face these challenges without second thought each time they don the uniform and put on the badge. We must honor the legacy of the brave men and women who gave their lives in the effort to serve and protect.”
On May 7, the Navajo Nation Law Enforcement Wall of Honor was celebrated at Window Rock Park in observance of the 2017 National Police Week. The event included the roll call of the fallen and the site dedication of the memorial wall by Navajo medicine man Jerry Tsosie of Shiprock, N.M. A previous memorial, now defunct, was at the former tribal police academy in Toyei, Arizona.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony recognized Navajo Police Officer Leander Frank, who died on August 30, 2016 in a traffic accident after responding to a disturbance call and former Navajo Police Chief Hoskie Thompson, who died on Oct. 21, 1949.
To date, 14 Navajo Police officers died in the line of duty: Hoskie Thompson, Burton Begay, Loren Whitehat, Andy Begay, Roy Lee Stanley, Hoskie Gene Jr., Samuel Rehouse, Ester Todacheene, Winsonfred Filfred, Darrell C. Curley, Enest Montoya, Alex Yazzie, Leander Frank, and Houston J. Largo.