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November 2015, Vol.9 , No.11 Subscribe | Past issues | Advertise | eMagazine Archives

Changes Needed to Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force Interagency Agreements

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Many counties, sheriffs’ departments and cities have combined forces to develop multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, sometimes with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the federal government. The intergovernmental agreements for these task forces vary significantly in their terms, particularly in the amount of consideration given to how much liability each governmental entity has for the actions of the drug task force.

A recent court decision involving a multi-jurisdictional drug task force has generated concern regarding the current agreements and the insurance policies meant to protect the counties against claims resulting from these drug task forces. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiff’s attorney that a Stephens County officer was an "officer" of Rabun and Habersham counties and, therefore, covered under their policies as well as the Stephens County policy.1  This decision exposed two counties to increased liability and future premium increases because of the actions of another county’s employee. 

In an effort to reduce the risk to one county when working with another county or city, ACCG staff recently met with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) staff, which oversees the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne JAG) for federal funding for these task forces, as well as the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association in regards to the intergovernmental agreements used to create these drug task forces. A Sample Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force Agreement has been developed for use by the governmental entities that participate in multi-jurisdictional task forces using Byrne JAG funding. The sample agreement attempts to clarify the county’s liability by including the following: 
  • The sample agreement is a mutual aid agreement pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 36-69-1 et seq. This task force is NOT a joint venture/partnership.
  • The sample agreement clarifies that personnel assigned to the drug task force by one county or city are not employees, volunteers or agents of the drug task force or of any other county or city for any purpose. Specifically, this means that a county should not be responsible for any liability resulting from the acts of an employee of another county or city participating in the drug task force. The agreement also specifies that a county should not be responsible for providing benefits to the employees of another county or city that participate in the drug task force, even if a sheriff has deputized the employees of the other county or city.

  • The drug task force created by the sample agreement is not a separate legal entity. No property, equipment or vehicles may be titled in the name of the drug task force. All property used by the drug task force must be titled to the county or city that has the financial interest in the property. 
  • Each county and city is responsible for insuring its own governing authority and its sheriff’s office or police department personnel participating on the drug task force.

  • Each entity expressly declines responsibility for the acts or omissions of another party and/or its elected officials, officers, agents, volunteers and employees, unless otherwise agreed to in writing. 
This language should be helpful in reducing risk for all counties that are participating in multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, even if they do not seek federal funding through the CJCC. The sample agreement can be modified for use by jurisdictions that work collaboratively to reduce drug use, sales, trafficking and other criminal activity without Byrne JAG funding.  

Whether your county uses the sample agreement or another intergovernmental agreement to establish its drug task force, you should ask your county attorney to carefully review the agreement under which the drug task force operates to ensure that liability and insurance coverage obligations are clearly assigned to the appropriate parties – and reflect the reality of the county’s insurance coverage.  

If additional assistance is needed regarding multi-jurisdictional task forces and ACCG-IRMA coverage, please contact Ashley Abercrombie, Deputy Director of Insurance Programs at (404) 589-7828 or For questions about your county’s liability for participation in a multi-jurisdictional drug task force, please consult your county attorney.

B & B Oil Company, Inc.
ACCG, Georgia's County Association
191 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 700
Atlanta, GA 30303
phone: 404-522-5022 | fax: 404-525-2477 |