The city Board of Estimates has approved a police mutual aid agreement with Baltimore County that would give police officers full police powers in both jurisdictions.
Action by county officials is necessary before the agreement can take effect. The agreement fully expands limited police authority granted in previous years by the state legislature, which governs the hot pursuit of suspects across jurisdictional lines and drug investigations.
"To our knowledge this is the first police mutual aid agreement between jurisdictions in Maryland with this kind of full police powers," said city Deputy Police Commissioner Michael C. Zotos, who presented the agreement to the board this morning.
It does not mean, however, that city police officers will freely operate in the county and vice versa.
The agreement would allow, for example, an off-duty city police officer who witnesses a crime in the county to make an arrest with full police authority.
Currently, under the same circumstances, the city police officer would be able only to make a citizen's arrest like any other private citizen, said Zotos. But the officer -- just like any private citizen -- would be legally liable for making a false arrest.
The agreement also means that the two jurisdictions could share personnel and equipment upon request.
Further, the agreement would allow a police officer from the county, for example, to go before a judge in the city and swear to a warrant. Now, the county police officer would have to use a city police officer to swear to the warrant.
Also, in the case of a homicide investigation, a city police officer could arrest a murder suspect living in the county. Currently, the arresting officer would have to be a member of the county Police Department, Zotos said.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said county police officers will have to abide by the city Police Department's car-chase policy, which prohibits high-speed chases.