Sheriff Joseph Dedman Jr., grew up in the Navajo community of Nazlini, Arizona. Nazlini is about 15 miles north of Ganado in Northeastern part of Arizona. His mother passed away when he was young and he suddenly had to take on added responsibilities. Sheriff Dedman is the third oldest of three sisters and one brother.
He fondly remembers riding his pony into Ganado, or driving to the trading post in a wagon with his grandfather who was a medicine man. During the summers they planted corn, took care of horses, attended squaw dances, and all the usual things people do on the reservation.
As a young man, Sheriff Dedman learned the value of hard work and became a caring family member. As a high school student, he managed to earn money which he used to buy clothes or goodies for his siblings.
All that would prepare him for his 27-year career in law enforcement—a career that would often put him among dignitaries such as U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. Vice President Albert Gore, U.S. Senator John McCain, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. He supervised their security during their visits to the Navajo Nation.
Sheriff Dedman began his career as a police communications operator and went onto the police academy where he trained to become a Navajo police officer. He went onto the State of New Mexico to become a certified peace officer. Once he received that certification, he went onto to get certified in Tucson, Arizona. When he received his Arizona certification, he returned to Navajo. For the next two years, he worked for the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and was stationed in Crownpoint, New Mexico patrolling the area.
Sheriff Dedman’s next assignment was to the Special Investigation Unit of the Navajo police — an often dangerous assignment. In one incident, he went undercover and worked on a drug sting in Tuba City. “Eventually we caught some people and took them down to Phoenix,” he said.
After a tour with the SI unit, he returned to patrol duty in New Mexico for two more years.
Then in 1989, he had another assignment: personal security to former Navajo Nation leader Peter MacDonald during the tribal turmoil and eventual riot. He served in that position for three years.
“The riot happened,” he said. “But we worked with a special security unit that was hired (to provide extra security). We learned a lot from those people. They were an elite trained team. So while tribal leaders were in a political headlock, Sheriff Dedman was getting invaluable lessons.
At the Internal Affairs Department, Sheriff Dedman supervised a cadre of professionals who watch over a force of 350 police officers. He carries out professional standards and teaches at the training academy in Toyei, Arizona. He teaches a supervisor’s course, discipline action, civil liabilities, and leadership training for officers in training. He also continues to handle dignitary protection for special guests to the Navajo Nation.
Sheriff Joseph Dedman Jr., is married and has three children, and two grandchildren. He can often be seen riding his 1995 Harley Davidson around Window Rock area.