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Law enforcement in Alachua, Bradford, Clay and Putnam Counties renew collaborative agreement to keep the town of Melrose safe

6:57 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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MELROSE, Fla. -- Law enforcement in four Florida counties are working together to keep the town of Melrose safe.

The city sits in four different counties: Alachua, Bradford, Clay and Putnam. The sheriff's offices for those counties say, in the past, the town's location caused some jurisdictional problems when deputies were pursuing criminals across county lines.

So, in 2008, the four sheriff's offices signed the first-ever Memorandum of Understanding, called "Four Corners Cops without Borders."

On Tuesday, the sheriff's offices renewed their one-of-a-kind agreement. Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said the concept is based on the Doctors without Borders program, allowing deputies to pursue a violent offender across county lines into another agency's jurisdiction.

Darnell said the agreement is unique, possibly the only one in the country. She said without it, deputies have to waste minutes trying to capture a dangerous suspect in situations where every second counts.

"The deputy would have to stop and figure out where they were. Like, right now, 'Are we in Putnam County or Alachua County?' Then I would need to call through the Communications Center. And think of this at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, I need to then go through the 911 center to ask the Watch Commander to call the Watch Commander from Putnam County to say 'Yes, you're authorized to do that,'" Darnell explains.

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said the agreement has benefited all four counties.

"Criminals don't obey county lines. Now we don't have to worry about them either. It blurs the distinction," he said.

Residents say they also recognize the benefits of the agreement.

"A lot of times in Putnam County, the area is spread out so wide that a lot of times it takes them awhile to get here," said Cornelius Clayton, Jr.

The original agreement was signed March 24, 2008. It was renewed in 2009, again in 2011, and a third time Tuesday.

The Cops without Borders agreement signed Tuesday will be in effect for four years, through April 15, 2017.

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