In Arkansas, local police officers are authorized to act outside their perceived territorial jurisdiction in six instances:
1) In fresh pursuit of a suspect,
2) When the police officer has warrant of arrest,
3) If the officer witnesses what they reasonably believe is a felony,
4) When a local law enforcement agency requests an outside officer to come within local jurisdiction or they have a mutual aid agreement with another jurisdiction and outside officer is from agency which has written policy regulating officers when they act outside its jurisdiction,
5) When that police officer has been deputized by the Sheriff of the county where the arrest was made, and
6) When the county sheriff requests peace officer from contiguous county to come into sheriff’s county.
What does “fresh pursuit” of a suspect mean in Arkansas?
If the officer saw you committing a crime or traffic violation in his jurisdiction and started pursuing you while in his jurisdiction, then he can activate his blue lights and arrest you in another jurisdiction.
What’s a Mutual Aid Agreement?
A mutual aid agreement is a resolution passed by a city Council, County Quorum Court, or even the legislature. That agreement allows emergency services from another jurisdiction (city, county or state) to operate inside of the jurisdiction enacting the agreement. Sometimes the agreement gives the Mayor or County Judge unilateral authority to enter into these agreements with other jurisdictions without explicitly naming those jurisdictions in the ordinance.
However, if an officer makes an arrest pursuant to the mutual aid agreement, their department must have a written policy on file. That policy must be about regulating the actions of its employees relevant to law enforcement activities outside its jurisdiction.
For example, if the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas has a mutual aid agreement with the City of Springdale, a Springdale police officer could make an arrest in Fayetteville without restriction.
For an example of a Mutual Aid Agreement for Fayetteville, Arkansas see Fayetteville City Code 93.03: https://library.municode.com/ar/fayetteville/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=CD_ORD_TITIXGERE_CH93CIDE_ARTIGEPR_93.03COOTGOAGMUAIAR
How Do I Know if a Police Officer has been Deputized to Make Arrests in My County?
If there is no mutual aid agreement then the police officer must be deputized by the County Sheriff in the county where the arrest was made.
You can either have your attorney request that information through the court, prosecutor, or a subpoena to the County Sheriff in a process called “discovery,” or you can send a “Freedom of Information Act Request to the County Sheriff asking for any records that the officer who made the arrest has been deputized.
What are “reasonable grounds” to believe someone is committing a felony?
An officer acting outside his jurisdiction only has the authority of a private citizen, and any citizen may arrest someone they have reasonable grounds to believe are committing a felony. This would not extend to traffic violations or misdemeanors. Misdemeanors would be things like Driving While Intoxicated, Driving Left of Center, Theft of Property less than the felony amount, Misdemeanor Battery or Assault, etc. Felonies would be murder, certain types of drug possession, certain types of assault and battery, etc. The officer has to witness the elements of a felony offense in order to make a lawful arrest.
What about Part-Time or Auxiliary Officers?
One thing to keep an eye out for is if they were an auxiliary law enforcement officer, because if they were then they had to be under the direct supervision of a full-time law enforcement officer. Additionally, the mere presence of a certified law enforcement officer does not mean the auxiliary officer is acting under his supervision. See: A.C.A. § 12-9-303.
If you have been arrested in Van Buren, Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Fort Smith, Arkansas, or anywhere else in this great state, give our Arkansas criminal defense lawyers a call at (479) 782-1125.
See: Ark. Code Ann. § 16-81-106 (Authority to Arrest). Perry v. State, 794 S.W. 2nd 141 (1990) (Local peace officer acting without warrant outside territorial limits of jurisdiction under which he holds office is without official power to apprehend offender unless he is authorized to do so by state statute; officer who seeks to make arrest outside his territory without warrant or statutory authority to do so must be treated as private citizen.). Blevins v. State; 31 Ark. 53 (1876); 5 Am.Jur.2d Arrest § 50 (1962); 6A C.J.S. Arrest § 53 (1975). Brewer v. State, 286 Ark. 1, 688 S.W.2d 736 (1985) (arrest by unsupervised auxiliary officers invalid).