CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John de Jongh has signed a legislation that awards peace officer status to federal authorities.

The long-awaited bill comes a few months after de Jongh requested that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives return to the Caribbean island to help fight a rise in crime.

The agency pulled its agents out of the U.S. territory in 2008 after local police charged an ATF agent in a fatal shooting following his intervention in a domestic dispute. A judge later threw out the case on a technicality.

The Virgin Islands government said in a statement Saturday that the new law will allow the three-island territory's police department to seek help from federal agencies in curbing crime and illegal weapons smuggling.