Opinion 2000 - 24


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

MUNICIPAL COOPERATION -- Police Protection (joint service agreement between two non-contiguous villages)

POLICE AND POLICE PROTECTION -- Contract for (between two non-contiguous villages)

VILLAGES -- Police and Police Protection (joint service agreement between two non-contiguous villages)

GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW 119-n(c), 119-o: Two non-contiguous villages may enter into a municipal cooperation agreement pursuant to General Municipal Law, article 5-G for the provision of police protection as a joint service.

You ask whether two villages that are not contiguous may enter into a municipal cooperation agreement pursuant to General Municipal Law, article 5-G (119-m et seq.) for the joint provision of police protection.

General Municipal Law 119-o(1) provides that "municipal corporations" may enter into, amend, cancel and terminate agreements for the performance among themselves or "one for the other" of their respective functions, powers and duties on a cooperative or contract basis, or for the provision of a joint service. The term "joint service" is defined as the joint provision of any municipal facility, service, activity, project or undertaking, or the joint performance or exercise of any function or power which each of the municipal corporations has the power by any other general or special law to provide, perform or exercise, separately (General Municipal Law 119-n[c]). To effectuate the purposes of article 5-G, the definition of "joint service" includes the extension of appropriate territorial jurisdiction necessary therefor (General Municipal Law 119-n[c]). Section 119-o(2)(b) specifically authorizes cooperation agreements to provide that personnel assigned to a joint service shall possess the same powers, duties, immunities and privileges they would ordinarily possess (1) if they performed their duties only in the municipality by which they are employed or (2) if they were employed by the municipality in which they are required to perform their duties. It is our opinion that, pursuant to the provisions of article 5-G, two or more municipal corporations may provide police protection as a joint service (see, e.g., 1978 Opns St Comp No. 78-696, unreported).

The term "municipal corporation" is defined for purposes of article 5-G, to mean a county outside of the City of New York, a city, a town, a village, a BOCES, a fire district or a school district. There is no indication in this definition, or in any other provision in article 5-G, that municipal corporations participating in a joint service must be contiguous, as a matter of law (cf., General Municipal Law 72-i, joint acquisition of lands and erection of memorial buildings by adjacent villages; General Municipal Law 103[3], purchases through an adjoining county; General Municipal Law 126-a, joint hospitals; General Municipal Law 353-a, joint airports). Further, the extension of extra-territorial jurisdiction that is provided for in the definition of "joint service" is not conditioned on municipal corporations being contiguous.

Accordingly, it is our opinion that two non-contiguous villages may enter into a municipal cooperation agreement pursuant to General Municipal Law, article 5-G for the provision of police protection as a joint service1.

December 20, 2000

Peter M. Weiler, Esq., Attorney at Law
Old Brookville Board of Police Commissioners

1. We note that our opinion addresses only the question of underlying statutory authority for a joint service agreement between two non-contiguous villages. There may be practical concerns with respect to, inter alia, the adequacy of response time to emergencies, that should be carefully considered in connection with a joint service police protection agreement between non-contiguous municipal corporations.