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Arrest – police officer acting outside his jurisdiction under § 66.0313(2)

State v. Michael E. Zinke, 2012AP2087-CR, District 4, 4/4/13; court of appeals decision (1-judge, ineligible for publication); case activity

The stop and arrest of Zinke by a police officer well outside his jurisdiction was proper under a mutual aid statute, § 66.0313(2), even though the officer was “miles away” from his jurisdiction and initiated contact with the agency that had jurisdiction.

These are the facts: A Village of Westfield police officer was traveling on a county highway in Marquette County when he observed a vehicle  repeatedly deviating from its designated lane. (¶2). He reported his observations to the Marquette County Dispatch Center, which informed him that no other on-duty law enforcement officer was available in the area to respond and requested his assistance,  specifically asking him to stop the car. He did, and ended up arresting Zinke, the driver, for OWI. (¶3). Neither the officer’s distance from his home jurisdiction nor the fact he called the sheriff’s dispatch invalidated his authority under the statute:

¶10      First, the statute by its plain language requires only that the officer act in response to a request for assistance. Nothing in the language of the statute or any Wisconsin case law that Zinke cites suggests that the statute does not apply if the responding officer is “miles away” from his home jurisdiction or initiates communication with the requesting jurisdiction. What matters is that the responding officer acts in response to the request. Indeed, Zinke’s interpretation of the statute would produce an absurd result by rendering law enforcement officers in situations like this one essentially unable to respond in a timely manner to observations suggesting potentially dangerous illegal activity. This court must interpret statutory language to avoid absurd or unreasonable results. State ex rel. Kalal v. Circuit Court for Dane County, 2004 WI 58, ¶46, 271 Wis. 2d 633, 681 N.W.2d 110.

¶11      Second, the portion of Zinke’s argument referring to the officer seeking and receiving “permission” to make a stop outside his jurisdiction essentially ignores the circuit court’s specific fact findings. As indicated above, the court found that the officer called to report his observations, at which point he received a “request[] to respond pursuant to mutual aid.” These findings of fact were based on the officer’s testimony to this same effect, and are not clearly erroneous.

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