FARMINGTON, N.M. — Navajo Nation leaders are in talks with the U.S. government to establish an emergency alert system across the 27,000-square-mile reservation.
Coordinator Harlan Cleveland said tribal government officials and the U.S. Department of Justice are considering establishing the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System on tribal land, The Farmington Daily Times reported (http://bit.ly/2c5wbNl).
The program is a federal alert system created in 2006 in response to Hurricane Katrina.
Cleveland said the Navajo Nation would have to sign an agreement with the DOJ before the federal system could be implemented. The tribe would also need to purchase software for the alerts, which could cost between $50,000 and $100,000.
The talks come after residents raised concerns about the Amber Alert system after the May 2 disappearance of 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike and her 9-year-old brother. The girl was found dead the next day. The boy returned to his family.
Navajo officials said they followed protocol in getting the word out on the disappearance but also that they failed her in not having an alert issued until early the next day in New Mexico. It was broadcast briefly in Arizona.
Tom Begaye Jr., 27, has been charged in the girl’s death.
Currently the reservation uses separate systems in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, all part of the Navajo Nation.
The systems from the states that encompass the Navajo Nation are similar but can have small differences that keep alerts on child abductions from being sent simultaneously and across the entire reservation. They won’t automatically take up another state’s alert, so the tribe has to contact each one and make sure an alert meets its criteria.
Cleveland said that until the Public Alert system is established, tribal governments have worked with New Mexico, Utah and Arizona law enforcement officials to more effectively issue Amber Alerts.
Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com