The Navajo Nation homicide rate increased from 34 homicides in 2012 to 42 homicides in 2013, according to new FBI statistics. Their homicide rate is four times the national average.
The number of murders in the Navajo Nation now surpasses cities with much bigger populations, such as Boston and Seattle. The Navajo Nation has the highest murder rate out of Indian reservations in the U.S., but it is also the largest reservation by far, both in size and population. It encompasses Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah and contains over 27,000 square miles with a population of almost 174,000 on the reservation alone, as of the 2010 census.
To put it in perspective, the next largest reservation in population, the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma, contains fewer than 48,000 people. The Navajo Nation also only has 280 police officers, far fewer than most urban cities off the reservation.
"I don't think any city in the whole country has enough police officers," Navajo Nation Acting Police Chief Bobby Etsitty said, when asked by the New Times if there are enough police officers to handle the crime rate. "We do have officers that investigate major crimes and they work hand in hand with the FBI to get cases prosecuted."
According to the FBI, one out of every four violent crimes prosecuted by the Department of Justice occurs on Indian reservations. Tempe, which has a similar population size to the Navajo Nation, had 11 murders in 2012.
Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.