A soon-to-be announced reciprocal arrest agreement between the Baltimore city and county police departments adds another brick to the growing edifice of regionalism that has become the de facto way of doing government business in the metropolitan area. Pressured by a string of shotgun robberies in both jurisdictions that started last October, Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden have now agreed in principle to allow city police to make arrests in the county and vice versa.
Presently, if an off-duty officer from the city sees a crime being committed in the county, he or she has no more power to intervene than a private citizen would. Similarly, officers investigating leads in another jurisdiction with which their department has no reciprocal agreement must call and request a local officer to accompany them. Obviously, such arrangements make little sense against highly mobile criminals who may target an entire metropolitan area as their theater of operations.
Recognizing the regional nature of much contemporary crime, Baltimore County already has made reciprocal arrest arrangements with Anne Arundel, Howard and Harford counties, well as with the State Police, who also serve as Carroll County's police officers. Now that Baltimore city has joined this regional pact, the greater degree of cooperation that should result among departments will create what is in effect a regional police force for the entire metropolitan area.