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Working across state lines?

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  • Working across state lines?

    My current story line has the angel character Dawn, in the human world semi-permanently, hired by a (fictional) railroad as a full-time investigator for their police department. Her background was as a street cop, probationary detective, and finally full detective in Billings, Montana. Her new position with the railroad is based out of Houston, and I understand that she would need to study and demonstrate proficiency in the essentials of Texas law as it applies to her position before being fully qualified to work. Not a problem.

    After that has been accomplished, the story line has a series of container burglaries occurring in a railroad yard in Utah. The local police seem unconcerned and the railroad has no full-time officers, let alone investigators, stationed in Utah. I have the railroad dispatching Dawn, with her human partner Michael (a qualified RR special agent) to assist, from Houston to Salt Lake City to investigate the burglaries.

    Question is, what hoops would both Michael and Dawn have to jump through for this assignment? I'm assuming (may be incorrect) that she could begin doing tasks such as lifting fingerprints and photographing the burglary scene very shortly after arrival. What would they need to do before, say, referring charges to the local District Attorney if a suspect is identified? Would they have to wait before setting up a video surveillance camera (with the permission of the property owner)?

  • #2
    What you're describing is not a burglary. It's just a theft.

    Burglary in general terms, is entering or remaining unlawfully in a STRUCTURE for the purpose of committing another crime inside.

    The other crime inside is USUALLY theft, but not always.

    So for example, if you are standing inside your garden shed and your neighbor comes over and takes a swing at you but misses, that's a burglary, because his fist entered the structure for the purpose of punching you, even if his feet were still outside.
    Last edited by Aidokea; 06-18-2021, 07:55 AM.

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    • ehbowen
      ehbowen commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it.

    • BNWS
      BNWS commented
      Editing a comment
      Not sure about Texas or Utah but in New York enclosed trucks and trailers are considered "buildings" under the definitions section of burglary. Some one breaking into a tractor trailer or railroad car can be charged with burglary.

      https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PEN/140.00

    • Aidokea
      Aidokea commented
      Editing a comment
      Well, it depends upon the state then.

  • #3
    Railroad police have jurisdiction on their railroad regardless of state lines, so they don't need someone's permission to set up cameras, nor do they have to jump through any hoops to do their job.

    Comment


    • ehbowen
      ehbowen commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you.

    • KMAN1084
      KMAN1084 commented
      Editing a comment
      Pursuant to federal law, RR Cops have jurisdiction in any state in which their railroad operates. They must however be a certified law enforcement officer in the state they reside or where their railroad is.https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/49/28101

  • #4
    There is no such thing as a probationary detective and your job line is still wrong.

    Comment


    • #5
      As for realism, on the Union Pacific, the main class 1 railroad in Utah; SLC is a hub. The Service Unit (used to be called divisions) for the Rocky Mountain region is there, as is the police command. There are likely a couple Special Agents in Denver, one in Cheyenne, and two or three in SLC. If higher skills or assistance is needed, it would come out of Omaha or North Platte.
      As for a rash of container thefts, usually a number of camera outfitted containers are placed with surveillance. A task force is usually formed for a period and usually the groups or gangs are caught.

      Comment


      • ehbowen
        ehbowen commented
        Editing a comment
        Well, in the world of my novel, 'Consolidated Pacific' is the stand-in for UP and the 'Kansas, Pacific & Gulf' (Mike & Dawn's RR) is loosely based on BNSF. I have penciled in that their railroad owns very little property (mostly terminal facilities) in Utah, utilizing trackage rights acquired as a condition of a prior ConPac merger to move their freight. In SLC they lease yard space from ConPac but have a very small operation and no RR police. The break-ins and thefts seem to be specific to their side of the yard; local cops aren't interested and ConPac says 'meh'. But they do lend KP&G (Dawn and Mike) the use of an office in their SLC RR police headquarters, once they are dispatched from Texas. Sorry if I'm being wordy, but I do like to think these things out.

        Thanks very much for the real world tip re the camera outfitted containers.

    • #6
      Originally posted by Wentwestco View Post
      As for a rash of container thefts, usually a number of camera outfitted containers are placed with surveillance. A task force is usually formed for a period and usually the groups or gangs are caught.
      If I might follow up with you on this: I'm thinking that the reason KP&G's side of the yard is preferred for the thefts is that it is adjacent to a poorly maintained fence (and the gang has bolt cutters and a cutting torch) with a little-used dirt road not on railroad property close by. What are the legal niceties of setting up camera surveillance of the dirt road? Assume the camera(s) is (are) physically mounted on Consolidated Pacific's property by KP&G with CP permission.

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      • #7
        The railroad can set up whatever cameras they want.

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