Officer Safety

Jurisdictional Boundaries


Michael Warren

December 30, 2021

December 30, 2021

Another tragic story this week – this time from the State of Colorado. A shooting spree began in Denver but crossed over jurisdictional boundaries into Lakewood. It was there that an incredibly brave officer engaged the suspect, and ended this incident even though she was wounded herself. I am very thankful that this officer is expected to survive the injuries she sustained. And who knows how many lives she saved through his selfless sacrifice.

Too often we become overly focused on what is happening in our car, or our district, or our precinct, or our city. We fail to take notice – intentionally – of what is going on in jurisdictions around us. I know that I was guilty of this during my career. And truth be told, it is another form of tunnel vision.

Before I go on, let me be perfectly clear. You need to know what is going on in all those places. Your safety depends on it. My only point is that we can’t limit ourselves to only these areas.

So how do we address this? First, if possible, listen to the radio traffic from the jurisdictions closest to your patrol area. Get to know the voices of the dispatchers and officers. Gain an understanding of what normal activity sounds like so you can recognize when something unusual is happening.

Second, get to know the officers in those other jurisdictions. Meet them for your dinner break. Sit car-to-car and talk to them. We talk all the time about the “thin blue line family” – so let’s act like we like each other. Know each other as people.

Finally, and I recognize you might not have much control in this area, train together. If you potentially could be responding together it would make sense that you know what each other are going to do. To have confidence in each other’s tactics and knowledge.

Crime – even violent crime – doesn’t care about jurisdictional boundaries. Something that starts elsewhere may very well end up where you are. We are stronger and safer together. But we are even better if we are intentionally together BEFORE crime crosses jurisdictional boundaries.