WINDOW ROCK - Thanks to a new intergovernmental agreement, the Coconino County Sheriff's Department will now enforce Navajo Nation criminal and traffic laws within the 405-acre parcel of land that includes the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, which lies within Coconino County.
The Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) voted 5-0 Feb. 4 to approve a cross- commission agreement between the Navajo Nation and Coconino County to allow for greater public safety measures through increased law enforcement presence at the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, located near Interstate 40, approximately 25-miles east of Flagstaff, Ariz.
In his presentation to fellow BFC members, co-sponsor of the legislation Council Delegate Jonathan Nez said the agreement is very similar to other cross-commission agreements that the Nation has entered into with McKinley County, San Juan County in New Mexico, Navajo County, San Juan County in Utah, and with Arizona's Department of Public Safety.
Nez added that he hopes the agreement can be expanded to include the rest of the Nation's land that lies within the Coconino County boundaries.
"I am hoping that this will be the next step to cross-commissioning the entire county," said Nez. "All of the other agreements have been approved for the entire county. So I'm hoping this will be the springboard for making that happen."
Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler represented the county at the committee meeting and extended her appreciation to the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise and the Office of the President and Vice President.
"The [Coconino County] Board of Supervisors has approved the agreement and we look forward to implementing it," Fowler stated.
Coconino County Sheriff's Officers will be required to complete a 16-hour training course prior to receiving a "mutual aid law enforcement" certification card to allow the officers to enforce laws on the Twin Arrows parcel.
After the BFC meeting, legislation prime sponsor Council Delegate Walter Phelps said the legislation will provide a way for law enforcement officials to handle situations involving "non-Indians" and also will allow for increased public safety for all patrons of the casino, adding that the agreement is only in place for 18 months with the option to renew.