Who's the boss, city cops, state cops, or the Feds?

In Cecil’s column on what law enforcement has primacy where he said:

It is my understanding that when in “hot pursuit” a (say) Chicago cop could chase you from Chicago to Seattle as long as they were in the process of chasing you the whole time.

Granted, police certainly will not venture into another state’s jurisdiction and will radio ahead for their police to pick up the chase and catch the bad guy. Still, what if no police are nearby when the Illinois cop radios ahead? The Illinois cop has to stop at the border and possibly lose the suspect? Somehow I doubt that and think the Illinois cop can continue the chase into the other state.

What I do not know is if the Illinois cop could actually make the arrest in another state (say he manages to catch the bad guy before the other state’s police show up) or if he just has to hold him for the other guys or just drag the bad guy back across the border and make an arrest himself.

I looked up a “hot pursuit doctrine” but all it talked about was police chasing someone onto private property.

Anyone know what’s what with this?

I don’t know this to be true, but I expect it’s common for police departments to have agreements with each other that allow hot pursuit across state or municipal lines. Otherwise, it’d be too easy to avoid the cops, especially as many metropolitan areas are not only composed of many different municipalities, they’re frequently surrounded by more than one state.


Municipal, yes. State, I think it depends on the state but this is often why there are state trooper’s stations on state borders.

I was once got jury duty notice and during the part where they call off the names of witnesses and various parties to the case, they called the names of all the cops involved. It was a list of 30 some odd officers from about 6-7 jurisdictions. One car chase.

I believe that absent a formal agreement between states that common law concepts of hot pursuit would allow the police to continue the pursuit. An easy way to manage the arrest, again absent a formal agreement, would be for the pursuing officer to make a citizen’s arrest on the suspect.

IANAL, and although I do hold a degree in Administration of Justice this is the internet


You’re not a lawyer, you’re not Spartacus…just who ARE you, anyway?

This isn’t a hot pursuit issue, but sometimes, despite the ideal of comity, the Feds and the local cops just don’t see eye to eye: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/08/10/louisiana.katrina.shootings/index.html

What? Of course the FBI has authority in a Federal case to investigate possible criminal activity of local police officers. Why wouldn’t they? What does that have to do with comity?

It was initially a state proceeding, and looked likely to remain so. Now, four years later, the Feds are getting involved.

The question is where the officers get their authority. State and local police get their authority via state laws, so they are valid all over the state but not other states (absent an agreement). hence, municipal police are authorized by the state and hence valid for the whole state.
The feds, get authority from federal laws, so they are able to exercise their authority anywhere in the country.

Compare that with, say, Canada where criminal code is a federal matter and peace officers are enabled by federal statute. Therefore, a peace officer under federal statute is authorized to act anywhere in Canada, even provincial or city police. (As long as it’s not reserve police being picky…)

Since criminal laws are federal, there is no issue of extradition between jurisdictions. They just handcuff the guy and take him on a plane wherever he has to go.

I still don’t see what either of those points has to do with Elendil’s Heir’s post. Or what that post has to do with this thread topic.

When cops are suspected of committing crimes, someone should be able to investigate them. Hell, usually it is a division from within the same organization (i.e. Internal Affairs). That has nothing to do with comity, or sharing authority across a jurisdiction, or cooperating between jurisdictions.