/ Modified jan 6, 2020 3:21 p.m.

Navajo request federal funding to hire coroners

If successful, the tribe will be the first in the country with such a department.

The Navajo Nation Council said it's working with Congress to fund a medical examiners department. If successful, the tribe will be the first in the country with such a department.

The Navajo Law and Order Committee said the tribe's criminal investigators have been serving as coroners. And it said they're already overworked. The criminal investigators have been devoting about 40% of their time to handle deaths.

This has become a problem for recruiting criminal investigators. They turn down the job knowing they'd have to take on the responsibilities of a coroner as well.

As crime on the Navajo Nation has increased in recent years so has the need for full-time criminal investigators. In 2018, U.S. attorneys declined to prosecute 37% of the Indian Country cases they received. They say they dropped most of the cases for a lack of evidence.

Fronteras Desk
Fronteras Desk is a KJZZ project covering important stories in an expanse stretching from Northern Arizona deep into northwestern Mexico.
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