GALLUP – A lack of funding had delayed for several months the purchase of software that would let people living on the Navajo Nation know when a child went missing, a tribal official said.
The tribe refocused efforts to implement an Amber Alert and larger emergency system after an 11-year old girl and her younger brother were lured into a van near Shiprock in May 2016. The boy was freed. An Amber Alert for Ashlynne Mike didn’t go out for almost seven hours after she was reported missing. She was found dead shortly after.
The tribe’s Department of Emergency Management did not have enough money to buy the software, public safety director Jesse Delmar told the Gallup Independent in a story published Thursday. He said $250,000 was recently acquired from his division, moving the process forward.
Delmar said the tribe is looking into various software vendors and will be interviewing them.
“Once we make the selection, we would be paying for that software,” he said.
Officials expect the system to serve as an “all hazard alert system” that would send out warnings not only on child abductions but also for chemical spills on highways or weather disasters.
The Navajo Nation has relied on the Four Corners states – Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona – to activate Amber Alerts, said Navajo Nation police Chief Phillip Francisco. Before police can issue an Amber Alert, officers must go through a list of requirements to establish a case, and if they have enough to fit the criteria, they can start the process to ask neighboring states to issue an Amber Alert.
That system was used during Ashlynne’s abduction and later when two other children went missing. The two children were found within an hour of the alerts, Francisco said.
Ashlynne’s father, Gary Mike, has sued the Navajo Nation, claiming it failed to send an Amber Alert in a timely manner.