Council members Monday night authorized Coventry Police Chief Bryan Volpe to enter into Mutual Aid Agreements with the Towns of Scituate and Foster, adding to a list of aid agreements formulated in February that currently includes East Greenwich, West Greenwich and West Warwick.
Chief Volpe explained that the mutual aid agreements allow participating agencies to cover emergency police work in multiple jurisdictions if officers must stray over the border of a neighboring community. Incidents involving hostages, gunshots or other violent crimes would be considered reasonable in regards to an "outside" officer temporarily stepping in for a member of CPD.
"This isn't saying they're going to come in and perform police functions in the Town of Coventry as Coventry Police - they're not going to do that - but they do pass through at certain times and work on our road details," said Chief Volpe. "We also work in joint investigations with various agencies through our narcotics task force and whatnot. Without the mutual aid agreements, we're not allowed to work in other towns. We basically have no police powers or serve much of a function other than to give advice."
In regards to arresting powers, out-of-town officers included in the mutual aid agreements are authorized to make arrests in another jurisdiction if it is unpractical for a local officer to respond in a timely manner.
"Basically if they see a crime happening in front of them, they can act as police officers and contact our agency as soon as possible," said Chief Volpe.
Officers are not authorized to perform everyday police functions outside of their jurisdictions, such as writing traffic and seatbelt citations.
Town Council President Gary Cote explained that in addition to providing emergency assistance to neighboring communities, the mutual aid agreements also indemnify officers through their own police department's insurance in the event of injury outside of their jurisdiction.
According to Chief Volpe, the Coventry Police Department is currently working with Cranston police officials to form a similar agreement, as well as several departments in Connecticut that border the western end of Coventry.