Making little things mean a lot
With a little ingenuity, $25,000 can go a long way. For Albert Benally, a sergeant with the McKinley County, N.M., Sheriff’s Department, a grant in 1996 from the New Mexico Indian Behavioral Health Council provided the seed money for him to start a domestic violence diversion program in the Sheriff’s Department in Gallup, N.M. This past fall, the results of that grant helped to get Sergeant Benally to the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in Philadelphia, where he was honored as Police Officer of the Year for Indian Country.
The IACP award acknowledged Benally’s work in developing this early intervention program for county residents. The approach incorporates principles of traditional Navajo peacemaking and the involvement of Navajo elders in a program that provides an alternative to the adversarial model in addressing domestic violence in the county — a high desert region in western New Mexico and a patchwork of Navajo reservation land and non-reservation communities. ...