A two-month old cross-deputization pact between two counties, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the state and the Ute Indian Tribe is being held in abeyance pending a tribal court hearing next month, a tribal judge said Tuesday.
But although Judge Catherine Jenks said the agreement, enabling non-Indian peace officers to arrest Indians and vice versa, is temporarily inoperative, other non-Indian law enforcement officials said they will honor the agreement.Typically, non-Indian police officers don't have jurisdiction on Indian reservations and Indian officers lack the same off their homelands. The relationship complicates law enforcement in areas such as the Uintah Basin, where counties share boundaries with the Ute Indian Reservation.
But the agreement - signed by Duchesne and Uintah counties, the Utah Highway Patrol, the BIA, Roosevelt City and the tribe - broadened jurisdictions to promote "prompt fair and efficient law enforcement."
Jenks made the ruling in a case involving a Ute Indian arrested on the reservation for a traffic violation by a UHP trooper under the cross-deputization agreement.
Janet Cuch, a legal advocate representing the Ute, said the arrest was invalid because the tribe's ruling Business Committee never approved the cross-deputization agreement.
Jenks agreed with Cuch and held the agreement in abeyance pending a Feb. 16 hearing.
But the BIA, which has law-enforcement authority on the reservation, considers the agreement still to be in force, said Everett Little White-man, supervisory criminal investigator with the bureau.
Duchesne County Sheriff Clair Poulson said that because the the BIA has law-enforcement authority on the reservation the tribal judge has no authority to rule on the agreement.