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Legally, What Can Happen When You Commit A Crime And Cross State Line?

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As we explore the state line in our ongoing project looking at borders that unite and divide the metro, we’ve heard a number of times about the question of law enforcement.

How does the state line affect it?

Well, it depends.

In all cases, law enforcement departments say they collaborate closely across jurisdictions. When a crime occurs on or near the state line, dispatch officers from the city where the crime occurred immediately get in touch with dispatch across state line.

In the case of a felony crime – a violent or sexual assault, armed robbery  — Kansas and Missouri departments will pursue a suspect across the state line. They can handcuff and detain them “for a reasonable time” in accordance with what’s known as the fresh pursuit law.

Detaining officers cannot file charges for crimes in the opposite state.  They have to wait for officers from the jurisdiction where the crime occurred.  Ultimately, a suspect may be extradited to the state where the crime occurred for an "extradition hearing."

In the case of a misdemeanor — a traffic infraction, public intoxication or disorderly conduct — officers typically will not pursue across the state line. That changes if there is a major injury such as shots fired or a victim seriously wounded. 

Officers on both sides of the line say there is a perception among criminals that they’ll be free if they flee into the neighboring state. 

Not true.

Credit Courtesy photo / KCUR
KCUR's Beyond Our Borders project will examine the Missouri-Kansas state line in the Kansas City metropolitan area through the end of 2014.

"It's known by criminals that we won't chase them across the state line if they run based on a traffic violation. But we can have dispatch call KCMO, or vice versa," says Emmett Lockridge with the Kansas City, Kan., police department

Kansas and Missouri police departments all have multiple  “mutual aid” agreements that spell out procedures and they regularly collaborate on arrests and investigations. 

We want to hear from you on this. Tell KC: What are your experiences with the law in Kansas and Missouri? What are your perceptions of law enforcement on either side?

This look at the Missouri-Kansas state line is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders  and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences on the state line with KCUR.

I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions.
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