Yes, Kansas cops can pull you over in Missouri — busting myths about policing the state line

State Line Road in south Kansas City

It starts with knowing where the Missouri-Kansas line actually is. “Part of the state line is literally right down the middle of State Line road, but as you get further south, the state line is actually on the Missouri side of State Line road,” says Sgt. Jacob Becchina of the KCMO police. Generally, cops are responsible for accidents or infractions in their own state.

Criminals can’t count on confusion (anymore). In the old days, when Becchina was working the beat, KCMO cops could not radio over to a KCK cop parked across the street. Instead, they would have to call their dispatcher who would call the dispatcher on the other side of the line and patch the calls together. “We were on totally different radio systems,” he says. “There’s now a regional communication channel that we can switch to.”

Cops from either Kansas or Missouri can pull you over on the other side of the state line. Contrary to urban legend, it’s possible for a police officer to pull someone over on the other side of the state line. “Let’s say there’s a car going down Bannister Road approaching the state line and they commit a traffic violation,” Becchina says. “[Leawood PD] may not have a good place to pull them over until they’re on the Missouri side, and that’s allowed.”

Cops cannot walk someone back across the line. Officers can issue a summons across the state line. If the charge is a potential felony, officers need to have the suspect held. They cannot, under any circumstances, walk someone across the state line. Instead, they must ask for the suspect to be “held” while they work on filing charges. “The criminal has to go before a judge for an extradition hearing,” Becchina says.

Kansas and Missouri police officers now work together on big events. A new “mutual aid” agreement covers twenty-two municipalities from opposite sides of the state line and applies to occasions that call for a large-scale police presence, like natural disasters and sporting events. At the Super Bowl parade, for example, officers from Kansas arrested people for fighting inside of Missouri and had them booked into a Missouri jail. “That’s new in the last few years,” Becchina says. “They do have arrest powers and all that through the mutual aid agreement if they’re acting under it.”

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