More than a dozen Navajo officers have been killed in line of duty since 1949

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FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation will observe its first Navajo Police Officer Day on Friday.

The tribal holiday to honor men and women who serve in law enforcement was declared for the second Friday in May and was established last year after legislation for its creation was passed by the Navajo Nation Council.

"It would be appropriate for the Navajo people to set aside a day in May to pay tribute to fallen officers and recognize Navajo Nation police officers who work on behalf of the Navajo people," the Oct. 17, 2017 resolution states.

The Navajo Nation has police districts in Crownpoint and Shiprock, and in Chinle, Dilkon, Kayenta, Tuba City and Window Rock in Arizona, along with a headquarters in Window Rock and a division for training and recruitment.

Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco said Wednesday there are 183 commissioned police officers in the department.

Francisco added that 13 recruits will graduate in June from the tribe's police academy in Chinle.

The tribal council resolution states that President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962 that designated May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which the date falls as National Police Week in recognition of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

Several states also pay tribute to fallen officers during National Police Week, the tribal council resolution states.

Fourteen Navajo police officers have been killed in the line of duty since 1949, according to a March 11 press release from the tribal president's office that focuses on efforts to build a monument to honor fallen officers in Window Rock.

Francisco said he will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to attend a ceremony to add the name of Houston James Largo, a tribal officer who was shot and killed after responding to a domestic violence call in March 2017, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

In observance of Navajo Police Officer Day, all tribal departments, divisions, chapter houses and courts will be closed Friday.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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