Law enforcement officials from throughout the Uintah Basin have signed a cross-deputization agreement empowering local and tribal police to arrest both Indian and non-Indian lawbreakers.

The agreement, signed Monday at Ute Tribal headquarters, gives federal Bureau of Indian Affairs police the power to arrest non-Indians, while local authorities are given authority to arrest tribal members.The agreement has been on the drawing board for close to two years.

It went into effect two weeks ago, but wasn't formally signed until Monday's ceremony.

City, county and state police have had the authority to arrest tribal members in Indian country for the past several years. But the new agreement marks the first time in the history of the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation that BIA police will be allowed to arrest non-tribal offenders.

"The monumental agreement will bring even better cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and provide better protection for all citizens," Duchesne County Attorney Herb Gillespie said.

The agreement affects the Duchesne and Uintah County sheriff's departments, the Roosevelt Police Department, the BIA and local Utah Highway Patrol stations.

UHP Lt. George Chino said all officers who receive the cross-deputization commission must be certified by the state Peace Officer Standards and Training agency.

Chino said the agreement would not change the way suspects are prosecuted. Non-tribal members will still be tried in state courts, while tribal members will go to either tribal or federal courts, depending on the severity of the crime.