Questions about police jurisdiction

I received an email with the following questions: “I live in the township of Alpena but work within the city limits. My question is whether or not the State Police have any jurisdiction within the city limits.

“Whenever I see troopers responding to an accident or conducting a traffic stop, it is always within the township, never the city limits. And a follow-up question is if they do not have any jurisdiction, what if they see a crime/infraction being committed within the city? Must they call the city police to report it? Can they wait until the driver has crossed over into the township and then pull them over?”

This is a question I get often when out in the public presenting.

In the past few months, this question has become more common because of all the female officers in the Alpena area now. Students see me in public and think I’m the officer at Thunder Bay Junior High, who is a deputy from the Alpena County Sheriff’s Office. Many times, I am asked if I am so-and-so from the Alpena Police Department. Then, to top it off, there are female Michigan Department of Natural Resources officers in two of our surrounding counties.

Believe me, I am not complaining that there are so many female officers around, but, when I tell the resident that I am not that officer and they work for the other departments, it then prompts them to ask what the difference in the agency is.

The easiest way to explain this is that each officer is assigned to a specific area to work.

Officers who are assigned to a specific city or township are to only work in that designated area. Alpena city officers work within the city limits of Alpena. Oscoda Township Police Department specifically are only certified to work in that township. Law enforcement officers who work at a sheriff’s department will be assigned to the county they work for.

As for the Michigan State Police or Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, we work for the State of Michigan. That allows us, as state employees, to work anywhere in the state at any given time. In my career, I have worked at the Alpena, Newberry, and Sault Ste. Maire posts, but have also been able to work at special events in Flint, Lansing, and Detroit because I am a member of the Michigan State Police.

To specifically answer the above question of whether or not the State Police have any jurisdiction within the city limits: Yes, we do.

We tend to allow the agency who is specifically assigned to a city or township to respond to those complaints or accidents. That does not mean that, if we are right there when it happens, we will not respond. But, if it is a dispatched complaint from a 911 center, we will allow the other agency to take the complaint.

The answer to the second part of the question, what a trooper would do if he or she sees a crime/infraction being committed within the city, is very simple.

On occasion, you will see a trooper on a traffic stop within the city limits, because the trooper observed the violation while patrolling.

Due to the fact that a trooper has jurisdiction within the entire state, we are able to address the issue immediately.

Ashley Simpson is a Community Service Trooper for the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post. If you have a question for Trooper Simpson, you can email her at or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police-Alpena Post, 3283 W. Washington Ave., Alpena, Mich., 49707.