BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - More than 150 Columbia police officers have received a commission from the Boone County Sheriff's Department to arrest suspects outside city limits.
Both sides signed the mutual aid agreement last month, renewing a deal that Sheriff Dwayne Carey said had lapsed several years ago.
County sheriffs have the power to commission, or deputize, officers within the county to make arrests when they have probable cause. Without that power, an officer would need a county deputy onsite to make the arrest when the officer had probable cause to do so.
Carey said he believed the agreement would improve public safety through better communication between the agencies.
"We all know who the bad guys are, and so we're focused on those individuals," Carey said.
Carey said state rules changed about five years ago, making the county sheriff liable for any misconduct that might occur outside an officer's jurisdiction. The sheriff said he sent new memorandums to area law enforcement agencies following the change, but then-Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton did not sign one.
Carey said that, when Geoff Jones took over as interim chief earlier this year, the two began discussing different ways to collaborate, including the idea of giving officers a commission. Ultimately, it was Carey's confidence in Jones that made him comfortable in moving forward.
"Because of the guy that he is professionally and the guy that he is personally, I decided that I would take the liability on and I would commission the Columbia police officers," Carey said.
Jones said the commission allows officers to pursue cases into the county if they need to do so. Officers were always able to conduct interviews or follow leads outside city limits, but making an arrest required the presence of a deputy.
"We can go out there and do the business that we need to do and it doesn't overburden the Sheriff's Department and it's more efficient for us," Jones said.
The Sheriff's Department has four signed memos from county law enforcement agencies. Those include the Hallsville, Centralia, Ashland and the University of Missouri police departments.