COEUR d’ALENE — Coeur d’Alene police want to be allowed to chase criminals who are holed up in other jurisdictions.
For now, their hands are tied.
But, Police Chief Lee White said he plans to ask local sheriffs from four northern counties to invite his officers and detectives into their counties to pursue bad guys who committed crimes in Coeur d’Alene.
It’s not a new principle, and the City Council approved the idea this week.
In a presentation to council members, White said city officers, under state law, are already allowed to chase bad guys who commit crimes in Coeur d’Alene, into other jurisdictions, under specific circumstances. Police in a vehicle pursuit can cross county and state lines, he said. In addition, officers may work in other jurisdictions at the request of another agency. Or, officers who are in another jurisdiction may make an arrest if they witness a serious crime, or witness someone harming or injuring another person.
The law, though, curtails the work of detectives whose investigation doesn’t end at city limits.
“It does not allow for continued investigation,” White said.
That means investigators may not cross jurisdictions to gather information, interview witnesses or for stakeouts.
An amendment to state law which sought to expand the ability of police to cross jurisdictions didn’t get traction when it was introduced last year in the House, White said.
The two-sentence amendment adds a line to allow officers to investigate their open cases in other jurisdictions, and adds a requirement to notify the “affected agency prior to any planned activity.”
He hopes to have it introduced again this year with different results.
Rep. Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls, a former police officer, supports the amendment because building relationships among regional agencies results in good law enforcement, he said.
“You never know when you need to call another guy for help,” Cheatham said.
Over a two-month period this year between September and November, White’s agency had 36 incidents — including sexual assault, robbery, burglary and aggravated battery — that originated in Coeur d’Alene but are in limbo because suspects have moved out of the city.
“These aren’t your small type incidents,” White said.
It behooves other agencies to let the original agency into their jurisdictions, White said. It frees up resources by not requiring cases from another area to be assigned to deputies who have their own caseloads.
Council members unanimously voted to allow White to pursue an agreement with sheriffs in Shoshone, Bonner, Boundary and Kootenai counties.
Councilman Dan Gookin said the agreement, similar to cross-deputization among counties, makes sense.
“This is not intrusion,” Gookin said. “This is meant to form an interagency assist.”
By allowing police to snag suspects in someone else’s territory, without taxing the other jurisdiction — but letting them know what’s going on — boils down to cooperation.
“If they have a warrant and the sheriff is too busy to pick up (the suspect),” Gookin said, “let someone else do it.”
White said some of his officers have federal authority through the U.S. Marshal’s Office to cross into other jurisdictions. What’s missing is a thumb’s up at the state level.