Navajo police chief to leave agency and take over as Bloomfield police chief next year

Current Navajo deputy chief to take over as tribal police chief

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco will be the new Bloomfield Police Chief.
  • The position in Bloomfield became available when former Police Chief David Karst retired at the end of August.
  • Francisco is set to stay with Navajo police through the end of the year and start in Bloomfield on Jan. 4.

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Police Department's chief has announced he’ll leave his post for the Bloomfield Police chief spot, which became vacant earlier this year.

The current deputy chief of the tribal police department will take the reins of the law enforcement agency in 2022.

Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco will return to the city where he attended elementary school and his grandfather coached high school football.

Francisco spoke to The Daily Times before the official announcement by the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President was issued.

Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco will become Bloomfield's new police chief in 2022. Here he is seen giving an overview on May 27 in Window Rock, Arizona, about a report that assessed the Navajo Police Department over an 18-month period, which that department will use to improve services.

He took the position with the Navajo Police Department in August 2016, after about 17 years in law enforcement, including time with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Aztec and Farmington police departments.

Francisco is the first tribal police chief since the position was left vacant in 2008.

He told The Daily Times he knew he would eventually return to a law enforcement agency in New Mexico in order to earn his full retirement from the state.

The position in Bloomfield became available when former Police Chief David Karst retired at the end of August.

“So this one popped up and it just happened to be something that was close to home,” Francisco said.

Francisco said he grew up in Bloomfield while attending elementary school, as his parents graduated from Bloomfield High School and his grandfather coached football for Bloomfield High.

“It's a smaller department, there's not so much bureaucracy, a lot more supportive, easier to navigate,” Francisco said.

Francisco is set to stay with Navajo police through the end of the year and start in Bloomfield on Jan. 4.

Bloomfield Mayor Cynthia Atencio welcomes Francisco to the city as he has a lot of knowledge and experience to bring to the community.

“I believe with his leadership and personality, the transition will be smooth for our department. I am looking forward to working together," Atencio said in a statement.

Francisco was one of 17 candidates who applied for the job and one of three finalists who were interviewed by a series of panels on Nov. 17, Bloomfield City Manager George Duncan said.

The Navajo Police Chief did mention some of the difficulties he faced in the last five years working for the tribe, describing the agency as being in a very dysfunctional state when he came aboard.

He feels government “red tape” and bureaucracy really slowed down progress including hiring people and spending money that was allocated to the agency.

For the future, he believes the Navajo Police Department could benefit from operating as its own entity similar to the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. It would give tribal police its own human resources, purchasing and finance department, and more.

Francisco believes he is leaving the agency in a good position for Navajo Police Deputy Chief Daryl Noon to take over as the new police chief.

“I think I've moved the department to a point to where they're pointing in the right direction,” Francisco said. “I provided some of the groundwork to move them forward to future, like the police academy.”

He said he really enjoyed working with all of the people in the department, describing them as the hardest-working people he’s worked with.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: