|Case Date:||October 14, 1982|
Wyoming Attorney General Opinions 1982. AGO 1982-016. 1982-016October 14, 1982TO: Colonel W. O. OylerCommander Wyoming Highway Patrol BY: Steven F. Freudenthal Attorney General Lawrence A. Bobbitt, III Assistant Attorney General QUESTION #1: What is the jurisdiction of state and county law enforcement officers on roads and highways within lands belonging to the federal government? ANSWER: See discussion. QUESTION #2: May state and local law enforcement officers obtain authority to enforce federal laws and regulations on the public lands? ANSWER: Yes. See discussion. QUESTION #3: May Wyoming enter into agreements with adjacent states whereby law enforcement officers from that state may enter into Wyoming and enforce Wyoming law? ANSWER: Yes. See discussion. BACKGROUND On November 27, 1981, Sergeant David Morris, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Worland, inquired of this office whether the Superintendent had authority to close U.S. Highway 212 (Beartooth Highway) running from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City, Montana for 41 miles in Park County, Wyoming. As this highway is not a "state highway" as defined in Title 24 of the Wyoming Statutes and is, therefore, not maintained by State forces, the answer was no. The Superintendent and Chief Engineer only can close "state highways" pursuant to Section 24-1-106, W.S. 1977. Sergeant Morris was concerned whether the state patrol could arrest and issue citations to individuals who drove around barricades placed by the officers of the National Park Service and the Forest Service. As the Superintendent has no authority to close the highways, bypassing barricades not erected by the Superintendent's authority would not be a violation of State statutes enforceable by the Wyoming Highway Patrol or by the Park County authorities. Sergeant Morris misinterpreted the memorandum responding to his inquiry. He notified all parties involved that the patrol had no jurisdiction on the Beartooth Highway of any kind. This was construed by law enforcement people both federal and state to mean no jurisdiction anywhere on park service/forest service lands. Understandably, this misunderstanding has created considerable confusion among law enforcement officers in northwestern Wyoming. DISCUSSION OF QUESTION #1 Questions regarding jurisdictional matters are not susceptible of easy answer. There are basically three kinds of federal jurisdiction within any state: exclusive, proprietary and concurrent. There are examples of all three within Wyoming. Francis E. Warren Air Force Base and Yellowstone National Park are under the exclusive law enforcement jurisdiction of the federal government. Areas within these enclaves are not subject to the police power of the State except as indicated by federal law. Grand Teton National Park, Devils Tower National Monument (see Section 5-1-108, W.S. 1977) and Bureau of Land Management lands held in a proprietary jurisdiction, are examples of concurrent jurisdiction. Where the...
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