City police officers in one Florida county will have unrestricted authority to make traffic stops outside of their jurisdiction beginning Aug. 1.
Broward County’s new policing-without-boundaries plan would allow officers to patrol any of its cities, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Sheriff Al Lamberti has discreetly provided agreements to police departments giving city officers unfettered authority to enforce traffic laws countywide – even while off duty and running errands in civilian clothes.
So far, Sunrise, Coral Springs, Margate and Coconut Creek Counties have signed the plan. Fourteen cities and areas patrolled by sheriffs are also part of the policing agreement, including: Cooper City, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, unincorporated Broward, the airport and seaport, Lauderdale Lakes, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Parkland, Pembroke Park, West Park, Pompano Beach, Tamarac, Weston and Southwest Ranches.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Coral Springs Police Chief Duncan Foster said the plan will help his city get tough on belligerent and careless drivers.
“Many times we’ll have officers outside their jurisdiction and people will just be flagrantly driving by,” Foster said. “There was little we could do.”
Fort Lauderdale city commissioners are entertaining the idea and considering trying the plan out for six months, limiting police intervention to only cases of drunk and reckless driving.
“We have people literally thumbing their noses at other police officers because they figure there’s nothing they can do about their driving,” Sheriff Jim Leljedal said. Under the new plan, “that marked police car will be a deterrent wherever it is.”
Under normal circumstances, a city police officer might be forced to turn a blind eye to traffic violations like blown stoplights and excessive speeding because he would not have authority outside of his jurisdiction; however, the proposal could turn Fort Lauderdale into a heavily policed traffic zone as all city officers travel to the county jail and courthouse.
According to the news report, the plan will bring money into cities because the officer’s jurisdiction would receive a small cut of the traffic fine. However, Leljedal said that is not the point.
“We’re stressing that revenue-producing is not the purpose here,” he said.