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Navajo Nation Seeks To Expand 911 Services

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has issued an executive order to strengthen the tribe’s emergency telecommunication system. The goal is to have 911 services accessible throughout reservation.

If you’re living in or traveling through the Navajo Nation, access to 911 emergency response can be spotty. Right now the tribe doesn’t operate its own 911 service, which means if the call goes through, it gets re-routed to the closest border town.

John Billison with the Navajo Division of Public Safety said the system will be upgraded in several ways, including expanding landline and cell phone connectivity and establishing a tribal 911 system. They’ll also be using geospatial coordinates to locate callers.

"The optimal result is when someone on the reservation makes a 911 call, the call is received and dispatched to the local police district that is nearby so that we can get all the available resources to that individual," Billison said. 

Right now, the tribe estimates that about 60 percent of homes do not have a landline and only half of the reservation has wireless coverage.


Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.