Knowledgebase-Mutual Aid

Information Product

Title:Mutual Aid
Summary:MTAS was asked if a municipality is obligated to provide services outside the
corporate limits and if the municipality may make a mutual aid agreement with
a municipality from another state.
Original Author:Huffer, Dennis
Product Create Date:11/08/2001
Last Reviewed on::11/07/2016
Subject:Emergency services; Emergency services--Intergovernmental agreements; Intergovernmental agreements; Municipal government--Services
Type:Legal Opinion
Legal Opinion: Mutual Aid public.doc

Reference Documents:

Text of Document:
November 8,2001

Dear Sir:

Your letter of October 8, 2001 has been referred to me for reply.

Your first question is whether the municipality is obligated to provide services such as emergency services outside the corporate limits. The answer to this question is no unless there is some contractual obligation on the part of the city to respond outside its limits. Municipalities are created, of course, to provide services to their residents and taxpayers, and the governing body must exercise its discretion in determining whether to provide certain services outside the corporate limits.

Police authority generally is limited to the corporate limits except “for the suppression of all disorderly acts and practices forbidden by the general laws of the state”, and in these situations, the jurisdiction is generally extended to one mile beyond the corporate limits. TCA 6-54-301.The next section also allows police jurisdiction to serve arrest warrants anywhere within the county where the city is located.

There are several provisions in state statute that allow mutual aid and contractual agreements under which municipal employees may legally be sent outside the corporate limits. TCA 6-54-307 authorizes municipalities to make mutual aid agreements for police services with counties, other municipalities, and other entities. This statute also allows municipalities to make contractual agreements with organizations of residents and property owners for police protection outside the corporate limits. TCA 12-9-101, et seq. , the Interlocal Cooperation Act, also allows mutual aid and service agreements with counties and other entities. TCA 6-54-601 allows mutual aid and service agreements for fire protection outside the corporate limits.

Your second and final question is whether the city may make a mutual aid agreement with a municipality in another state. Both 6-54-307 and the Interlocal Cooperation Act allow agreements with entities in other states to the extent the laws of the other state allow such agreements. Although the Interlocal Cooperation Act is a uniform law proposed by the federal Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, apparently the state in question has not adopted it or any other law that would allow agreements between that state’s local governments and local governments in other states.

It is a good idea to discuss this with the TML Risk Management Pool. They have model agreements that the city can use to provide mutual aid or service outside the city.

I hope this information is helpful. If I may be of further assistance, please call.


Dennis Huffer
MTAS Legal Consultant

Please remember that these legal opinions were written based on the facts of a given city at a certain time. The laws referenced in any opinion may have changed or may not be applicable to your city or circumstances.

Always consult with your city attorney or an MTAS consultant before taking any action based on information contained in this database.