TORRINGTON – A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in the works between the Torrington Police Department and Goshen County Sheriff’s Department for collaboration of the two agencies.
According to Torrington Police Chief Matt Johnson, the MOU will help to avoid legal concerns involved with jurisdiction issues.
“In terms of a jurisdiction for a municipality we are limited to the city limits which is appropriate and as it should be,” Johnson said. “The trick with that is sometimes when there are crimes taking place or public safety issues that are taking place that are entering into or leaving the city it gets kind of important where that line is.”
In cases such as a DUI where a drunk driver is headed into city limits and is driving dangerously the police department will have the ability to enforce the law outside of its jurisdiction in order to maintain safety. Johnson said currently they cannot enforce the law in such cases unless a risk of death or serious bodily injury can be articulated.
Johnson, who collaborated with Goshen County Sheriff Cory Fleenor and County Attorney Eric Boyer to draft the MOU, said there wasn’t a single incident which initiated the need for it but instead mounting concerns over time.
“We haven’t had any big issues that were earth shattering or public safety concerning that prompted it but sometimes there’s little bumps where people are kind of like I’m not sure what the right answer is here and so it’s really just kind of been trying to move forward with good conversations on how can we all be best at supporting each other in law enforcement and supporting our community for safety,” Johnson said.
The MOU pertains specifically to about a half-mile radius around the city to allow the police department to assist with the sheriff’s department.
“If there’s a safety concern, if there’s something happening within a half mile of city limits, we don’t need to worry about starting a conversation at that point,” Johnson said. “We already know that we’ve got the ability to go out and help with that and take care of that.”
Johnson also said it will also benefit the sheriff’s department which has a limited number of deputies and a wide range of coverage.
“It also kind of formalizes our ability to have partnerships with the sheriff’s department in terms of being proactive so if there’s a criminal issue that we’re trying to address we can do that as a team and work together,” he said.
The MOU is expected to take out the “guesswork” of figuring out what jurisdiction the crime or public safety issue is occurring in. Johnson said it is also important to maintain the respect between the two agencies in order to have a good partnership.
“We’re appreciative of the collaboration and the partnership,” Johnson said. “It helps everybody to be safer and takes better care of our community. So that’s a win.”