The jurisdictional limits of municipal police officers is a topic that is often speculated about, with little clarity as to whether or not the police officer from the next Town over may pull you over and cite you for a traffic violation. As with many legal questions, the answer is not a simple yes or no, but it depends.
In accordance with Title 30-A M.R.S.A. §2671, “Police officers may serve criminal and traffic infraction processes and arrest and prosecute offenders of the law. No police officer has any authority in criminal or traffic infraction matters beyond the limits of the municipality in which the officer is appointed except to:
- Recapture a prisoner whom the officer has arrested and who has escaped;
- Take a person before the District Court;
- Execute a mittimus given to the officer by the District Court;
- Pursue a person who has gone into another municipality and for whose arrest the officer has a warrant;
- Arrest a person who travels beyond the limits of the municipality in which the officer is appointed when in fresh pursuit of that person. This paragraph applies to all crimes and traffic infractions;
- Except as provided in §2674.”
The statute provides fairly broad parameters under which to determine an officer’s potential jurisdiction or authority when operating in other municipalities. Title 30-A M.R.S.A. §2674 provides that, municipal officers may authorize the chief of police or other designee to request other municipalities to provide law enforcement officers to assist the requesting municipality. In situations where law enforcement officers have been authorized by municipal officers to provide assistance, they have the same authority as law enforcement officers within the limits of the requesting municipality or county, except as to the service of civil process.
Therefore, if you are speeding through Town and a police officer is pursuing you, it is not safe to assume that the jurisdictional limits of the municipality will afford you any legal protection. The jurisdictional limits of police officers and law enforcement officials are expanded outside jurisdictional limits in a range of statutory circumstances and as provided in municipal ordinance. It is always prudent to follow the traffic laws and to understand your municipal ordinances.