WINDOW ROCK – A $12.7 million project for an Emergency Management Center facility for Shiprock is 95% ready to go and is considered “crucial” for the community.
Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety Director Michael Anderson and Navajo Nation Department of Corrections Director Delores Greyeyes briefed Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren on the working components of the project for the Department of Corrections, police, criminal investigations, fire department, and emergency medical services.
Joining them was Shiprock Chapter Coordinator Michelle Peterson and Shiprock Chapter President Nevina Kinlahcheeny.
“The facilities in the Shiprock area are almost non-existent,” Director Anderson said. “Law enforcement and the Department of Corrections have no means to incarcerate people who’ve committed crimes or are being held to go through the justice system. They have to be transported to other facilities. It’s an exorbitant use of funding, manpower, and resources.”
The director said President Nygren identified in his platform that public safety facilities and staff are a vital component of the Navajo Nation criminal justice system and an important part of the team efforts within the Division of Public Safety.
“This facility is necessary,” he said. “It has to be accomplished. If there was a facility in Shiprock, it would better serve the community and surrounding area. It would create jobs and maintain a mandate for continued employment for people who have gone through training and are serving in that capacity within the Department of Corrections.”
Director Anderson said the opportunity to build this facility is imminent and the Nation needs to take advantage to provide these services.
“There are other locations that are going to need similar facilities to accommodate the justice system such as Window Rock,” he said. “Right now, the Shiprock facility is at a crucial point at 95% ready for development.”
Director Greyeyes said the Shiprock Police Department, along with Corrections and Criminal Investigations closed its doors in March 2020 and moved into the former Shiprock Post Office.
In the meantime, the community is waiting for a modular building to be constructed to house the corrections department.
“We have a situation,” Greyeyes told President Nygren. “We need your support.”
She explained that the plan for the first of two buildings would be a two-story, 22,465-square-foot facility that need just $2 million more for construction. The plan is to request that from the State of New Mexico.
It would sit on 1.8 acres that the chapter has acquired. The bottom level would be for the Shiprock Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.
“Right now, our community doesn’t have a police station,” Chapter President Kinlahcheeny said. “Our fire department just got new fire trucks. They can’t fit them in that bay that’s there now. Our emergency medical transport people don’t have a building. They have nothing. They used to be in the hospital but because of COVID, they were asked to leave because the hospital needed the space.
The upper second floor would house the dispatch center and have restrooms, a kitchen, and quarters to sleep and exercise.
The basic 911 system would be for all of eastern Navajo from Chuska Mountains to Huerfano and east to Dennehotso, she said.
“All utilities are nearby,” Director Greyeyes said. “A permanent building would be built while waiting for the larger facility to be built. There would be several conference rooms and emergency commands to relocate all their staff.”
“With DPS we’re always thinking about expanding,” she said. “We will into the future.”
Planning for the new facilities has been going on for years. With a new president and new council, President Kinlahcheeny says the community has new hope.
“It’s critical for our community,” she said. “This is a critical need. It’s life and death for our community.”
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