Top Stories

Caribou allows police to respond to emergencies outside jurisdiction

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou city councilors Monday unanimously approved allowing Caribou police to respond to emergency situations outside of Caribou.

Caribou Police Chief Michael Gahagan explained that state law permits city officials to grant certain police officers authority outside of their jurisdiction under special circumstances.

Gahagan told councilors that the permission would be used only in emergency or violent scenarios, such as when an officer is needed to respond to a potential domestic violence call in a nearby municipality covered by the Maine State Police when a trooper is not immediately available. The state police cover all of Aroostook County and can often be more than an hour away, he said. With the city’s approval, Caribou police would not need to wait for troopers to arrive on the scene to act in a nearby emergency.

Mayor David Martin asked the police chief if he needed authorization from all other jurisdictions, to which he said that only Caribou’s authorization is required.

“Do other communities go into Caribou’s jurisdiction?” Martin asked.

“On certain cases they do,” Gahagan said, “but they always notify us. So, if we were working on a burglary, we always have that power. If we had a burglary here, but wanted to interview someone in Presque Isle, we’d have to call them beforehand.”

Councilor Hugh Kirkpatrick asked if this has been requested in the past.

“We’ve never requested this in the past, because we had always had a lot of help,” the chief said. “I can see, as time goes on, we’re not having as much of that. Plus, we’re having incidents in schools now, and many [officers] are being trained with the ALICE program. Woodland Consolidated School has that program, and we’re the closest agency to Woodland. If something happens there, for example, and the closest trooper is down in Bridgewater, then we’re going to be there before they are.”

Gahagan also wrote, in the council packet, that the request is primarily a result of limited resources in Aroostook County, and that council’s approval will remove “any ambiguity, from the officer’s perspective, if and when the need for their assistance outside of Caribou arises. It also provides the officers with statutory protection concerning issues of liability which they enjoy within the jurisdiction of the City of Caribou.”

He also indicated, both in the packet and during the meeting, that his officers will not be patrolling outside of Caribou, nor will they be responding to routine calls in those municipalities.

Martin asked if nearby towns, such as Woodland and New Sweden, would be required to reimburse Caribou PD.

The chief said they would not have to reimburse Caribou, as the officers only leave their jurisdiction in the event of an emergency.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.