Navajo County Takes The Lead On Cross-Deputization Agreements

December 2nd, 2009

By Tammy Gray-Searles
A complicated set of agreements that will allow Navajo County Sheriff’s Office deputies to assist law enforcement officers on the Navajo Nation, and the Hopi and White Mountain Apache reservations received approval from the Navajo County Board of Supervisors Nov. 24.
“What this does for the county is, it offers us protection when we’re up on the reservation, and it gives the sheriff’s office the opportunity to go up and help out on the reservation when we’re requested,” Sheriff K.C. Clark explained. “We’ve worked on something like this for years, but we never seemed to be able to get it through the tribes or the insurance pool. This time, everyone’s on board.”
The agreements include cross-certification for sheriff’s deputies, as well as mutual aid provisions. The five contracts involve Navajo County, Apache County, Coconino County, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Hopi Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Navajo Nation. In essence, the agreements allow the tribes to cross-certify deputies, which protects the county from liability using federal tort law.
“Arizona Counties Insurance Pool (ACIP) has been, and continues to be, concerned about liability issues when sheriff deputies perform law enforcement functions on Indian lands,” a memo to the board noted. “To help alleviate this concern, the county attorney’s office and sheriff’s department propose the BIA cross-certification agreement to benefit from the federal tort claim act.”
The memo went on to explain, “The mutual aid agreement is to provide a framework that defines when an emergency arises and how to request law enforcement assistance in those situations. This agreement does not preclude the sheriff’s office (from) providing law enforcement services or assistance in other situations.”
The cross-certification portion of the agreement notes that deputies will be federally deputized and the BIA will be responsible for obtaining the federal certification. The agreement also notes that deputies arresting or citing tribal members on tribal lands shall do so under tribal laws, and forward the case to the appropriate tribal prosecuting authority.
County Attorney Brad Carlyon explained that the agreements with each entity are essentially the same, and he hopes that the approval by the board of supervisors will encourage all other agencies involved to accept the agreements without making major changes.
“We’re trying to keep the same agreement with them all,” he remarked. “I’d like the board to show that we are the leaders on this.”
In other action Nov. 24, the board:
* Approved agreements with the Arizona Department of Health Services for dental sealant, teen pregnancy prevention, and women and children community health programs.
* Approved a resolution that provides workers’ compensation coverage for volunteer workers.
* Approved a change to the personnel policy that prohibits employees from sending and receiving text messages while driving a county vehicle.
* Approved a Governor’s Office of Highway Safety grant agreement for $30,950 for radar and video recording equipment.
* Approved the official canvass of the Whiteriver, Piñon and Winslow school district elections.
* Approved a change to Workforce Investment Authority (WIA) funding that will allow $32,835 to be paid as incentives to employees based on program year 2008 performance.
* Approved an extension of the Pinetop-Lakeside Road Yard lease.
* Approved the extinguishment of a road easement on Gaggle Avenue in Pinedale.
* Approved a resolution ordering paving improvements in the Mountain View Improvement District.
* Approved the expenditure of up to $17,000 in Secure Rural Schools Funding for support of the Piñon High School Drama Club.
The request for the funds, written by Piñon School District Superintendent Larry Wallen, noted, “Piñon Unified School District currently has a group of 20 high school students that have a mission to establish a drama club and raise funds to travel to New York City to experience its world renowned Broadway productions. As superintendent, I am proud of the students and their ambition to broaden their education.
“Due to the current state economy and budget reductions, our district reduced certain extracurricular sponsorship. The Piñon High School Drama Club is working toward becoming a fully recognized student activity, and therefore has no base budget.”
According to Wallen, students have estimated the total cost of the trip to be $33,900 for 20 students.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Navajo County Complex in Holbrook.