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Interlocal Cooperation in Law Enforcement

This page provides a basic overview of interlocal cooperation in law enforcement in Washington State, including examples of interlocal agreements between cities, counties, Indian tribes, or other government agencies.

It is part of MRSC's series on Interlocal Cooperation.


A city or town may provide law enforcement protection in a number of different ways. The traditional and most common way is to establish a municipal police department under the direction of a locally appointed police chief or marshal.

Meanwhile, counties provide law enforcement through the sheriff's office.

Many small communities and even several larger ones enter into a contractual arrangement with another jurisdiction to provide law enforcement services. Cities and towns typically contract with the county for police services or they may also contract with a neighboring city or town for service. The level of service and cost must be negotiated between the jurisdictions. In contracting for police protection a city or town may opt to appoint a city employee or officer to serve as chief law enforcement officer or as is most typically done designate an officer from the jurisdiction being contracted with to serve in that capacity.

Many municipalities also enter into mutual aid agreements with other cities, the county, or the state patrol to provide back-up assistance in emergency situations.

Interlocal Cooperation Statutes

Examples of Law Enforcement Service Contracts

Below are selected examples of interlocal agreements where one jurisdiction provides general law enforcement services for another. For examples of other agreements such as inmate housing, mutual aid agreements, tribal law enforcement, or other specific topics, see the sections below.

Counties Providing Law Enforcement Services

Cities Providing Law Enforcement Services

Cost Study

  • Burien Provision of Police Service Assessment (2011) – Evaluates current contract with sheriff’s office compared to cost of establishing a police department; concludes that current contract is more cost-effective but that as the city grows an independent police department would become more cost-competitive

Examples of Mutual Aid Agreements

Examples of Dispatch/Communications Agreements

Below are selected examples of interlocal agreements for emergency communications and dispatch services. For more information on emergency communications, see our page Emergency Communication Services and Facilities.

Examples of Tribal Agreements

A number of cities and counties also have agreements with nearby Indian tribes for a variety of law enforcement services. Selected examples are below. For examples of tribal jail agreements, see our page Jail Services and Alternatives to Incarceration.

Examples of School Resource Officer Agreements

Examples of Regional Task Forces

Examples of Jail Service Agreements

For examples of interlocal agreements related to jails and inmates, see our page Jail Services and Alternatives to Incarceration.

Examples of Court Service Agreements

For examples of interlocal agreements related to court services, including prosecution, public defense, and indigent defense, see our page City and County Court Services.

Examples of Records Management/Software Agreements

For detailed guidance on law enforcement records laws, see our Law Enforcement Records Tool Kit.

Examples of Other Law Enforcement Agreements

Recommended Resources

Last Modified: February 27, 2024