Friday, March 11, 2016

Committee approves Rep. Chris Harris’ bill to standardize law enforcement jurisdiction at Breaks Interstate Park

Frankfort, KY (March 11, 2016) – The House State Government Committee unanimously approved House Bill 609, sponsored by Rep. Chris Harris yesterday, which seeks to mirror the powers of peace officers at interstate parks in both Kentucky and Virginia. This measure would specifically apply to Breaks Interstate Park which crosses the southeastern Kentucky state line in Pike County to also cover parts of Dickinson and Buchanan counties Virginia. 

            “The role of our law enforcement officers at Breaks needs to be consistent to be effective,” Rep. Harris said. “It doesn’t make sense to require rangers, police officers, and sheriffs to stop and check which side of the state line they are on when apprehending a criminal.”

            Breaks Interstate Park is one of the few state parks in the nation that lies across two adjoining states. It begins at the base of Pine Mountain in Kentucky and crosses the Virginia state line to cover more than 4,500 acres including Breaks Canyon first surveyed by pioneer Daniel Boone. Covering two states means two sets of state laws to follow, which can present special considerations for lawmakers.

            Last year, the Commonwealth of Virginia granted Kentucky law enforcement officers jurisdiction in the Virginia portion of the interstate park. This gives them powers of arrest and detention if they see a crime committed anywhere in the park. 

            “Virginia gave our officers jurisdiction in the Virginia side of the park. It makes sense that we extend the same courtesy to their law enforcement personnel if they’re in Kentucky,” Rep. Harris said.

            HB609 now goes to the full House for their consideration.

Rep. Chris Harris presents HB609 to the House State Government Committee. It Passed unanimously to the House for a vote.