54 Mass. Police Departments Reach Aid Agreement

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Police chiefs in 54 Massachusetts communities have signed an agreement that makes it easier for officers in one community to cross town lines while responding to legitimate law enforcement emergencies in another jurisdiction.

The mutual aid agreement announced Tuesday involves 51 Middlesex County departments, two from Essex County and one from Norfolk County.

The chiefs say the agreement enhances public safety and protects officers.

It essentially says on-duty officers from one participating department can cross town lines to respond to a crime in progress in another participating community.

Civil authorities in the towns have approved of the agreement.

The agreement was a response to two Supreme Judicial Court cases, including one in which drunken driving charges were dismissed because an officer followed the suspect across town lines.

“[Police officers] should never have to put themselves or others in danger by hastily rushing to stop a reckless driver or wanted felon before the town line,” said Weston Police Chief Steven Shaw, President of the Middlesex County Chiefs of Police Association, in a statement. “Crime doesn’t stop at the border, and this agreement will help ensure that criminals can’t escape the law by escaping one community.”

The agreement, the first of its kind in the state, features 51 of Middlesex County's 54 communities. Cambridge has yet to sign the agreement. Waltham and Winchester await the approval of their municipal governments.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom.