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Associated Press Officers can be full deputies in others' jurisdiction

BILLINGS - State, local and Fort Peck tribal law enforcement agencies have reached an agreement allowing officers from each agency to be full deputies in each other's jurisdictions.

The agencies called the agreement a landmark.

Attorney General Joe Mazurek, whose Justice Department includes the Montana Highway Patrol, said the agreement "will vastly improve law enforcement coverage in this large, sparsely populated area of Montana."

The agreement will be signed April 26 by the Fort Peck Tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the cities of Poplar and Wolf Point, the Roosevelt County sheriff's office and the Montana Highway Patrol.

Under the agreement, certified tribal officers will be commissioned by the other jurisdictions. That will give them the same authority as the commissioning jurisdiction. Tribal officers may then issue traffic tickets to non-Indians and arrest non-Indians under the same conditions as nontribal law officers.

Commissioned tribal officers also may transport non-Indian who've been arrested to the Roosevelt County or appropriate city jail.

State and local officers who complete the Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country course under BIA guidelines can be commissioned by the tribes to enforce tribal laws against tribal members, and take Indians who have been arrested to the tribal jail.

"The point of this is to protect communities," said Sarah Bond, assistant Montana attorney general. "This will stretch limited resources."

Calvin Red Thunder, director of the Tribal Department of Public Safety in Poplar, said the agreement formalizes a cooperative arrangement that local law officers already had worked out to help stretch their resources and improve public safety in their area.

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