The Pentagon is in Arlington, but county police officers have no
to take action if they see potential terrorists or other
anywhere on the sprawling federal property.
Likewise, officers with the Pentagon's police force -- the Defense
Service -- are legally handcuffed from stopping suspicious
people or making
arrests on the tangle of state and county roads and
land parcels that surround
the Defense Department headquarters.
That is about to change. Arlington and Pentagon police are entering
a historic agreement that will give them the legal authority to
each other's territory to enforce state and federal laws.
The memorandum of agreement is among the first tangible changes in
among the region's myriad law enforcement agencies since
the Sept. 11 hijackings.
Officials had tried to hammer out a similar mutual-aid agreement
the two law enforcement agencies for more than a decade, but
attack on the Pentagon sealed the deal.
"This is analogous to a treaty," Arlington Police Chief Edward A.
said. "It's a common-sense, practical approach to collaborative
"We look at it as a way of mutually helping one another," Pentagon
Chief John Jester said. "We are a large terrorist target.
glad to get extra eyes around us."
The agreement, expected to be signed soon by Flynn and Jester,
why the change is necessary.
"By virtue of their respective law enforcement and security
both [agencies] have an interest in the protection
of persons and property
on and about the Pentagon Reservation," the
agreement states. "Because
the Reservation is located in Arlington
County, events on the Reservation
can have a direct impact on
Arlington and its residents. Events occurring
on property dissecting,
or just outside, the Reservation, on the other
hand, can have a
direct impact on the security and operations of the Defense
In the future, any county officer making an arrest on federal
will be provided with support, including fingerprinting,
and detention. The officer will stay with the case, and
it will be prosecuted
in federal court. Pentagon police officers will
be afforded the same help,
with their suspects appearing in state
After American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon, "our
were immediately on the ground," Flynn said. However, because
no written agreement, the two forces' roles were worked out
at the scene.
"There shouldn't be any lag time," Flynn said. The
Arlington Fire Department
needs no such agreement. It also is the
Pentagon's fire department and
was therefore in charge of the fire
and rescue operation after the terrorist
The agreement is part of a growing trend toward more cooperation
state, federal and local jurisdictions in the Washington region
even before Sept. 11. There is now a raft of regional law
forces, including those that target terrorism, drug
auto theft and outstanding felony warrants.
For example, had protesters tried to block the bridges leading from
into the District during the International Monetary Fund and
meetings two years ago, they would have been met by a
For the first time, D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey had invoked a
agreement, marking an important change in relations
between suburban and
D.C. police, officials said. As a result,
Arlington police officers with
riot gear were posted at strategic
locations on and near the bridges.
Flynn said his officers will help U.S. Park Police on July 4,
the George Washington Memorial Parkway and other areas to
allow the federal
agency to concentrate on the Mall.
"I'm seeing a lot more cooperation among localities," Flynn said. "In
ways, local law enforcement is demonstrating models of
the feds could learn from. And we're doing it
without creating new departments
or reorganizing each other's