View Full Version : quick police jurisdiction question (US)

09-30-2009, 07:17 AM
So I have a Town A and a Town B. They both operate under separate police jurisdictions.

My MC detective in Town A gets assigned to a case concerning a dead guy who actually came over there from Town B.

If my detective wants to go to Town B to continue his investigation, can he just up and go, or does he have to be in some sort of contact with Town B's police department?

Tsu Dho Nimh
09-30-2009, 02:07 PM
Jurisdiction starts where the body was found ... it can expand if the corpse was killed elsewhere and dumped.

It's a courtesy to let the Town B cops know what he's doing, but (at least in AZ) he can follow up the leads in Town B without permission. It's also wise to talk to the cops in Town B, because they might have similar cases in their workload all done by the same culprit.

Stijn Hommes
09-30-2009, 02:29 PM
You don't need permission to investigate in another town if you've got reasonable cause. If the victim and his friends and family lived there, you need to get there to question them. Still, tagging along a local cop would be a good idea. They know the place and could provide back up, help or a workplace if your MC needs it.

I'm not sure if the said cop could be armed, though, you might want to look into that.

09-30-2009, 05:06 PM
You're getting into some tricky areas with Town, or even city cops. These officers have jurisdiction in their municipality and SOME authority in adjacent jurisdictions (the borders must touch).
To answer your question, the town A cop would contact the town B cops and ask for their help. They would be in a position to know about the person. If more information is needed, Town A cop would accompany a town B cop on the investigation.

Richard White
09-30-2009, 06:41 PM
I'm not sure if the said cop could be armed, though, you might want to look into that.

Again, that depends on the state.

I know in Missouri, local police were required to carry a weapon whenever they were within X miles of their place of duty (I think it was 50, but could have been more) for personal protection. Of course, they had to have ID that clearly identified them as a peace officer when they carried, regardless of the jurisdiction.

I remember in the 70s/80s, we had a bunch of KC cops going to school at Warrensburg and they were required to carry their weapons, even on campus. They had to coordinate with Campus Security ahead of time though, but I know five or six who carried concealed in the classroom.

Also, in Boone County, Missouri, many of the city cops were also deputized as County Deputies so they could pursue someone outside the city limits. That allowed a cop from Hallsville to chase someone into a neighboring town (Sturgeon, Centralia). Of course, they would normally call and try to coordinate a response ahead of them in a situation like that.

09-30-2009, 07:37 PM
Yay! Thanks for the answers, you guys.

So it sounds like my detective probably is going to have to contact someone. When he calls the other department, who exactly would he be talking to about this?

And if he does pay a visit to Town B and they make someone accompany him, would it be a uniform or another detective?

By the way, I made up the settings, but this is taking place in a suburban area outside of Chicago. Probably should have mentioned that earlier.

Richard White
09-30-2009, 09:54 PM
If I had to guess, I'd say if a detective is doing the investigation, then they would be accompanied by another detective.

It depends on how big the town/city is that you're using. Small towns aren't likely to have detectives or plain-clothes officers. Small towns may have 3-9 officers (1-3 per shift). They would get support from the county or the state Bureau of Investigation for things like forensics, etc.

Larger towns/smaller cities obviously have more people on the department. Can you give me a guestimation of how large this fictional town/city is?


10-01-2009, 02:45 AM
Larger towns/smaller cities obviously have more people on the department. Can you give me a guestimation of how large this fictional town/city is?
Definitely not a small town. I was thinking about just making the second town Chicago, actually.

The reason I'm asking this question is not just to check procedure. In the story my detective has been spurning attempts by his estranged father to contact him, but his dad also happens to be a cop in this other town where the victim is from. I was thinking it would be nice if he inadvertently had to run into him or somehow talk to him during the course of the investigation, and I've been thinking of how to make that happen.

Richard White
10-01-2009, 11:16 PM
That's cool. A secondary source of stress and conflict is never a bad thing in a story.

Yeah, if he's a detective in one of the major Chicago suburbs and his dad is in the other (or a Chicago detective), then yeah, they could even wind up being teamed up together by one of their superiors who doesn't know the "family history" between them - thinking since they know each other, it'd be easier to work together. (rubs hands evilly)