Police Detective 2

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Q: I am a detective with the city police department.  I was assigned to assist the county sheriff’s department with an on-going gambling wire-tap operation.  In addition, I would occasionally assist the sheriff’s department drug interdiction unit.  On September 6, 2007, I was injured when I was shot in the hand by a sheriff’s department investigator while assisting the sheriff’s department with a drug interdiction operation.

On the day that I was shot, I had reported to the sheriff’s department to assist with the wire-tap operation, but was asked by two sheriff’s department investigators to assist with the removal of marijuana plants from a rural location.  We discovered a man in a cabin on the property.  His dog attacked me.

A: Under the particular circumstances here, your relationship with the sheriff’s department constitutes an employment relationship for the purposes of General Obligations Law § 11–106(1) so as to bar recovery for your injuries.  The statute was enacted to provide an umbrella of protection to injured police officers and firefighters while, at the same time, protecting municipalities from liability.

It is questionable whether you can be called an employee only of the city.  Did you inform the chief of police before joining the county personnel in the drug operation?  What uniform were you wearing?  Even in the absence of a formal task force, it appears that you were also an employee of the sheriff’s department.

Thus, General Obligations Law § 11–106 bars a negligence claim against the county.  The courts reason that a contrary conclusion would inhibit municipalities from working together for purposes of law enforcement, in violation of the strong public policy in favor of such collaboration.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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