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Can an out of Jurisdiction Police Officer Effectuate an Arrest in Rhode Island

Out of Jurisdiction Arrest Below you will find an article that I wrote concerning out of Jurisdiction arrest and detainment in RI. This article does not specifically pertain to car accidents or personal injury claims in RI. However, it is possible that an out of jurisdiction arrest could involve a car crash where someone is injured as a result. In fact in ceraso there was a serious accident. Also the information could pertain to the intentional tort of false imprisonment.

(RI Attorney David Slepkow is also a criminal defense lawyer representing clients in misdemeanors, drunk driving, dui / dwi, and breathalyzer refusal cases.)

In State v. Ceraso, the Rhode Island Supreme Court determined that, “In the absence of a statutory or judicially recognized exception, the authority of a local police department is limited to its own jurisdiction.”STATE v. CERASO, 812 A.2d 829 (2002), citing Page v. Staples, 13 R.I. 306 (1881).

“There are two exceptions to this general rule. First, when the police are in “hot pursuit” of a suspect, they may cross into another jurisdiction pursuant to § 12-7-19. Second, in emergency situations, it may be necessary and appropriate for the police from one jurisdiction to exercise authority in another jurisdiction.” State v. Ceraso, See R.I.G.L. § 45-42-1; State v. Locke, 418 A.2d 843, 847 (R.I.1980); Cioci v. Santos, 99 R.I. 308, 315, 207 A.2d 300, 304 (1965).”

Notably, Ceraso does not state that only the authority of the police to arrest is limited to their own jurisdiction. Cesaro clearly states that “…the authority of a local police department is limited to its own jurisdiction.”

Facts of ceraso: ““In the early hours of February 14, 2000, Newport police officer, Sergeant Richard Field (Sgt. Field) obeyed a direction by his superior officer, Lieutenant Turano, to respond to a roll-over accident that had just occurred near the toll booths on the Jamestown side of the Newport Bridge. Sergeant Field promptly responded and arrived at the scene simultaneously with the State Police. Upon arrival, Sgt. Field immediately observed a scene of absolute chaos. There were police and rescue vehicle units present from both Jamestown and Newport, all of which had their emergency lights activated. The accident had completely blocked off the eastbound traffic from Jamestown and, because the toll booth operators had not stopped the flow of traffic onto the bridge from Jamestown, the eastbound lanes had backed up and were at a complete standstill between the toll booths and the accident scene. Even the Jamestown police cruisers were blocked in by the traffic and were prevented from gaining vehicular access to the accident scene.”

It is immaterial and irrelevant whether the Out of Town Police officer effectuated a stop, detainment or an arrest. At the end of the day, they lacked authority or jurisdiction to take such actions outside of their jurisdiction. The only exception would be an arrest if the case fell into the two statutory recognized exceptions or a judicially recognized exception. There is no case in Rhode Island that carves out a judicially recognized exception allowing the police jurisdiction and authority to detain an individual outside of its jurisdiction until the other police department arrives,

In State v Marran, 1996 R.I. Super. Lexis 125, before the Rhode Island Superior Court the Court stated: “The General Laws of Rhode Island limit the authority of a police department to its own jurisdiction Page v. Staples 13 R.I 306 (1881) Although, there are exceptions to this general rule; Cioci v. Santos, 99 R.I 308, 207 A.2nd 300 (R.I. 1965); State v. Locke, 418 a.2d 843 (R.I. 1980), neither the Rhode Island General Assembly, nor the Rhode Island Supreme Court has chosen to extend, carte blanche, the authority of a municipal police department outside of its jurisdiction. The general rule from Page has been in existence for over a century and is still good law. It is only in the last twenty-five years that the Rhode Island General Assembly chose to extend a municipal police department’s authority outside of its jurisdiction when the police are in “hot pursuit” of a suspect under R.I.G.L. § 12-7-19, or when an emergency situation exists under R.I.G.L. § 45-42-1. Furthermore, it is only in the last sixteen years that the Rhode Island Supreme Court chose to extend a municipal police department’s authority outside of its own jurisdiction when a chemical test relating to a suspect’s blood alcohol content is in question. If the Rhode Island General Assembly or the Rhode Island Supreme Court felt that municipal boundaries which limit a police department’s jurisdiction were not important, either body would have expressly heretofore commented on that issue. There are no exceptions to the Page general rule in the instant case. Therefore, in the absence of statutory authority granted by the Rhode Island General Assembly, or of special emergency circumstances as described by the Rhode Island Supreme Court in Locke, the Newport Police Department’s authority ceased to exist over Marran as soon as he was transported outside the city limits of Newport and into Middletown.” This case was not overturned but was declined to follow in Hagan,

It appears that Hagan did later carve out a judicial exception for out of Jurisdiction officer’s investigative activities for transporting a suspect for a breathalyzer test. Nonetheless the general principals and law set forth in Marran still apply today.

The statutory authority or judicial exceptions to make an arrest or take police action under certain circumstances is in derogation of the over century old common law that police were limited to their own jurisdiction.

A detainment is either an arrest or the functional equivalent of an arrest because he was not free to leave.

In Hagan, Portsmouth Police arrested the defendant for drunk driving. Id. Portsmouth detected an error in its breathalyzer machine. Id. Portsmouth contacted the neighboring Middletown Police. Id. Portsmouth transported the defendant to Middletown to use Middletown’s breathalyzer. Defendant was charged with driving under the influence of liquor. Id.

In STATE v. Joseph H. HAGAN, the Rhode Island Supreme Court stated, “This Court first recognized that the authority of a police department is limited to its own jurisdiction in Page v. Staples, 13 R.I. 306 (1881). In that case, a Providence County sheriff, admittedly for his own convenience, took a prisoner through Kent County on his way to admitting that defendant to bail at the Providence County jail. This Court subsequently sustained the prisoner’s action of trespass for false imprisonment and ordered a new trial. Id. 1259*1259 at 308. We held that in the absence of a statutory exception, the power of a sheriff is limited to his own county, or in the limited circumstances in which the officer has custody of a prisoner upon a writ of habeas corpus, he may take the prisoner to the place where the writ is returnable. Additionally, an officer may in “fresh pursuit” “retake” a prisoner into custody after pursuing him across county lines. Id. at 307-08. The trial judge in the present case relied on Page for the basic premise that an officer’s authority may not readily be extended beyond the limits of the municipality and that the circumstances presented in this case did not satisfy any recognized exception to this archaic holding.” STATE of Rhode Island, ex rel. TOWN OF PORTSMOUTH v. Joseph H. HAGAN. 819 A. 2d 1256

The Hagan Court decided that, “A police officer may take a prisoner already in lawful custody to another municipality to carry out legitimate law enforcement duties. However, the limited authority of an officer to make an arrest outside the boundaries of his or her municipality remains unchanged” State v. Hagan carved out a limited exception allowing police to take a defendant already in custody across town lines.

It is pertinent that the RI Supreme Court is discussing the issue in terms of authority and the power of the police. This case clearly distinguishes an action such as an arrest or detainment from legitimate post-arrest-defendant-in-custody law enforcement investigation activity.

If there is no authority to make an arrest absent a statutory exception then there is no authority to detain.
An out of jurisdiction police officer does not have the power or authority to detain a person awaiting the arrival of a police department with power to effectuate an arrest. There is no case law establishing a judicial exception allowing an out of jurisdiction police officer to detain someone in order for police officers within that jurisdiction to investigate and arrest.

The statute and case law speaks to the ability of an out of jurisdiction officer to make an arrest. These statutes do not envision that a police officer without arrest powers can detain a suspect because a detainment is the functional equivalent of an arrest.

If the Court allows out of jurisdiction police officers to detain, it will create an exception that will eviscerate the rule. Out of jurisdiction officers could wander the state and detain relying on other departments to arrest.

In STATE of Rhode Island v. Robert J. BJERKE.697 A.2d 1069 (1997) the Rhode Island Supreme Court stated “It is well established that whenever a person is detained by state authorities, even if briefly, the Fourth Amendment is implicated and the detention must be in conformance with the strictures of that amendment. See Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979); Terry, 392 U.S. at 18 n. 15, 88 S.Ct. at 1878 n. 15, 20 L.Ed.2d at 904 n. 15 (“the Fourth Amendment governs all intrusions by agents of the public upon personal security,”); see also State v. Halstead, 414 A.2d 1138, 1146 (R.I.1980).

§ 12-7-19 Arrest after close pursuit by officers from cities or towns. – Any member of a duly organized municipal peace unit of another city or town of the state who enters any city or town in close pursuit and continues within any city or town in such close pursuit of a person in order to arrest him or her on the ground that he or she has violated the motor vehicle code in the other city or town shall have the same authority to arrest and hold in custody the person as members of a duly organized municipal peace unit of any city or town have to arrest and hold in custody a person on the ground that he or she has violated the motor vehicle code in any city or town.

“§ 45-42-1 Emergency police power. – (a) When the police chief of a city or town within the state or his or her designee requests emergency police assistance from another police department within the state, the officers responding to the request shall be subject to the authority of the requesting chief and have the same authority, powers, duties, privileges, and immunities as a duly appointed police officer of the city or town making the request, until the requesting chief of police discharges and releases the assisting police officers to their own departments.”

Article by Rhode Island Personal injury Attorney David Slepkow 401-437-1100 helping clients with pedestrian accidents, auto accidents, slip and fall as well as other personal injury claims.

Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.

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