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State v. Vrabel

Supreme Court of Kansas

April 24, 2015


Review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in 49 Kan.App.2d 61, 305 P.3d 35 (2013) . Appeal from Johnson District Court; STEPHEN R. TATUM, judge.



1. K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a describes the territory in which law enforcement officers employed by a city may exercise their powers as law enforcement officers.

2. Generally, city law enforcement officers may exercise their police powers within the city limits of the city that employs them; in any other place when a request for assistance has been made by law enforcement officers from that other place; or when in fresh pursuit of a person.

3. The legislature has granted additional extraterritorial jurisdiction to city law enforcement officers in Sedgwick and Johnson counties when executing a valid arrest warrant or search warrant within the respective county. The legislature has granted additional extraterritorial jurisdiction to city law enforcement officers in Johnson County, allowing city officers to exercise their powers as law enforcement officers in any adjoining city within Johnson County when any crime, including a traffic infraction, has been or is being committed by a person in view of the law enforcement officer.

4. The statutory territorial constraints on city law enforcement officers apply to the exercise of all of their powers as law enforcement officers; K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a does not apply solely to searches and seizures. When a city law enforcement officer arranges and provides the money for a controlled drug buy through a confidential informant, that officer has exercised his or her powers as a law enforcement officer within the meaning of the jurisdictional constraints of K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a.

5. To exercise their powers as law enforcement officers in a place outside the boundaries of their own city pursuant to the " request for assistance" exception under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(2)(b), the city officers must have received a request for assistance from the law enforcement officers of the other place. Mere acquiescence or acceptance of assistance by the officers of the invaded jurisdiction after notification by the invading officers does not constitute a request for assistance under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(2)(b).

6. The Johnson County bordering municipalities exception set forth in K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(7) applies when a crime has been or is being committed in view of the intruding officer, but it does not apply when the intruding officer anticipates a future viewing of a crime for which the officer has arranged, such as a controlled drug buy.

7. The legislative purpose for imposing territorial jurisdiction limitations on the exercise of police powers by city law enforcement officers is to maintain and protect the local autonomy of neighboring cities and counties, allowing each governmental unit to control the exercise of police powers within its respective jurisdiction. K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a was not intended to create additional individual rights for criminal defendants.

8. The suppression of evidence is not the appropriate remedy where city law enforcement officers have exercised their police powers to arrange and fund a controlled drug buy in another jurisdiction in violation of the jurisdictional constraints of K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(2) and where the aggrieved person has made no illegal search or seizure claim and has not alleged a willful and recurrent violation of the law by the city law enforcement officers involved in the drug buy.

Shawn E. Minihan, assistant district attorney, argued the cause, and Stephen M. Howe, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were with him on the brief for appellant.

Jonathan A. Bortnick, of Bortnick, McKeon, Sakoulas & Schanker, P.C., of Kansas City, Missouri, argued the cause and was on the brief for appellee.

Daniel E. Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chtd., of Wichita, was on the brief for amicus curiae Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


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[301 Kan. 798] JOHNSON, J.:

Law enforcement officers employed by the City of Prairie Village set up a controlled

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drug buy from Carl Vrabel to [301 Kan. 799] occur in the neighboring Johnson County city of Leawood. As a result of the controlled buy, the district attorney filed felony drug charges against Vrabel. But the district court suppressed evidence of the drugs and the conversation between the confidential informant (CI) and Vrabel during the controlled buy because the Prairie Village officers had obtained that evidence while exercising their police powers outside of their jurisdiction as authorized under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a(2). The Court of Appeals reversed, finding an implied agreement between the two cities that constituted a request for assistance by Leawood to Prairie Village. Vrabel seeks review of that reversal. Also, the State seeks our review of K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a's applicability to the facts of this case and of the question of whether excluding evidence was an appropriate remedy for a jurisdictional violation under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 22-2401a. We affirm the result reached by the Court of Appeals; we reverse the district court and remand for further proceedings.

Factual and Procedural Background

On July 26, 2011, a CI advised Corporal Ivan Washington of the Prairie Village Police Department (PVPD) that Carl Vrabel had hashish--a form of marijuana--for sale. At Washington's request, the CI arranged to buy drugs from Vrabel the following day at a location specified by Washington, which was a grocery store parking lot at 95th and Mission in Leawood. Washington would explain that PVPD frequently used the Leawood location for drug buys and that it was located on a main thoroughfare to Missouri, where Vrabel lived.

The next day, prior to the buy, the CI met with Washington and other officers in Prairie Village. The officers placed a recording device on the CI and provided her with money to purchase drugs from Vrabel. The PVPD officers then followed the CI to the controlled buy location in Leawood. Shortly thereafter, Vrabel arrived, parked his vehicle, and entered the CI's vehicle. The CI gave Vrabel money in exchange for hashish. Once the transaction concluded, Vrabel returned to his vehicle and left the area. The PVPD officers did not follow Vrabel or attempt to contact him on the day [301 Kan. 800] of the controlled buy. When the CI left the parking lot, she met the PVPD officers and gave them the purchased hashish.

In October 2011, the PVPD contacted Vrabel in Missouri. At the PVPD's request, Vrabel voluntarily followed the officers back to Prairie Village. After learning that Vrabel " didn't want to cooperate," the PVPD sent the matter to the district attorney's office. On March 9, 2012, the State charged Vrabel with distribution of marijuana and use of a communication facility to sell a controlled substance. On March 20, 2012, nearly 8 months after the drug buy, the Johnson County District Court issued a warrant for Vrabel's arrest. Vrabel voluntarily surrendered on March 26, 2012.

Vrabel filed a motion to suppress the hashish, the audio recording of the controlled buy, and surveillance photos of the scene, arguing that the PVPD " had no jurisdiction to set up and investigate a crime in the City of Leawood, Kansas." At evidentiary hearings on the motion to suppress, the State put on testimonial evidence from Washington and Captain Kevin Cauley of the Leawood Police Department (LPD) to support its position that the PVPD had jurisdiction to conduct the controlled buy in Leawood. Washington explained that his normal protocol when the PVPD conducts an investigation in Leawood is to contact Cauley and notify him of the investigation, allowing Cauley to determine if the LPD wants to assist.

On this particular occasion, Washington explained that LPD officers were not present at the buy location and did not provide assistance to Washington. Rather, Washington called Cauley and notified him that the PVPD was coming to Leawood for a narcotics investigation. Washington called Cauley again when the PVPD officers were on their way to Leawood to conduct the investigation. After the buy was completed, Washington attempted to call Cauley twice to inform him that the buy was successful and the officers were leaving.

Cauley confirmed that his phone records reflected three phone calls from Washington

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on the day of the controlled buy but explained that he did not remember the content of the conversations. He explained that he believed the LPD stayed out of ...

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