Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
"In any film where a local cop meets a federal cop, the federal cop will always be wrong, unless the movie is set in the South."
When two or more law enforcement organizations both can lay claim on a particular criminal case or suspect they will rarely see eye-to-eye on the best way to prosecute/investigate the case. In the US, local cops vs. the Federal government (FBI, DEA, etc) is the most common setup. Usually, the locals will want to shut down a petty crook to protect their town and the "little guy", while the Feds are focused on the big picture and would rather he go free so they can focus on building a case against the "big fish" higher up the criminal ladder. When a case is particularly sensitive or difficult, the friction may be reversed: each group of investigators wants to absolve themselves of jurisdiction to avoid the problems that will come with it. This is most likely to happen if one of the groups is under pressure to improve their conviction rate and does not want to risk taking on a case they cannot solve.
Jurisdiction Friction may also occur at the initial crime scene: the hero investigator will barely have the time to unearth a few clues before the rival investigation outfit shows up to flash badges all over the place and claim jurisdiction. At this point, the hero will either turn Vigilante Man or move on to a new case that's oddly reminiscent of the old one.
Which side of the dispute is sympathetic and which is heartless/incompetent/arrogant/corrupt/trigger happy/working for the shadow government depends entirely on who the main characters are. FBI agent series such as The X-Files and Without a Trace naturally will have them in the right, while a Police Procedural like Law & Order is frequently on the other side.
In addition to local versus Feds, the friction can occur between other law enforcement subdivisions over the same suspect, like drug enforcement officers versus homicide investigators, or simply one of a city's police districts versus another. And everybody has it in for the Private Detective.
Compare Right Hand Versus Left Hand and We Are Struggling Together for when the factions bickering over a common goal are not part of any government.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
This is a large part of what ultimately gets Ramba Ral killed in Mobile Suit Gundam. He's a member of Dozle Zabi's Space Attack Force but is sent to Earth on a special mission to destroy the Gundam in order to avenge Garma Zabi's death. The Earth Attack Force commander M'Quve doesn't like having one of Dozle's boys playing around in his back yard and continually refuses Ramba Ral's requests for supplies and support, resulting in his running battles with the White Base slowly whittling away his forces until he finds himself in the unenviable position of trying to fight them on foot.
Happens in the anime version of Sailor Moon, of all places: as the third season Big Bad comes from outside the Solar System, the Outer Senshi declare that Sailor Moon and the Inners should stay out of their way, as in the Silver Millennium they were the ones dealing with enemies from outside. Gets a veneer of Insane Troll Logic when you remember that Sailor Venus and Sailor Moon, being respectively the military supreme commander and the reincarnation of the last surviving member of the Silver Millennium royal family, technically are those who they're supposed to answer...
Walker and Pilgrim in the comic book Powers often find their investigations turned over to the Feds. Naturally, this never stops them investigating anyway.
A police ally of the X-Men once used this to save them when crooks-turned-feds Freedom Force attempt to arrest the mutant heroes. She insisted Freedom Force produce the documentation necessary to take the X-Men into custody (which they didn't have on them). This gave the X-Men time to flee the city.
The military equivalent showed up in The DCU, when The Shield (an Army Super Soldier) and Magog (Marine corporal turned emissary of one of the Old Gods) ended up on the same mission together. They spent just as much time sniping at each other's respective branches as they did fighting the main threat.
In Batman Year 100 Gotham City PD and the Federal Investigators clash over a murder, GCPD thinks it should have jurisdiction as the murder happened in Gotham, the Feds because it was one of their men and also because they committed the murder and are organizing a massive cover up. Batman knows he has jurisdiction because he's theGoddamn Batman (see The Dark Knight film below).
In Gotham Central, tension exists between the Major Crimes Unit and the other squads. Some of the conflict is because the other squads tend to use the fact that the MCU has jurisdiction over cases with supervillains to lazily dump routine investigations on them by claiming that the case bears the hallmarks of a super villain. The rest of the conflict comes from the fact that the MCU is the only consistently honest department in the notoriously corrupt and incompetent GCPD.
Adventures in the Rifle Brigade has a jurisdiction conflict between the Wehrmacht and Gestapo. See, the crack commandos of the Rifle Brigade were caught on the streets of Berlin by Panzer ace Otto Flaschmann, who happened to be there on leave. However, Gestapo captain Venkschaft claims them as his prisoners, since Berlin is his home court. Seeing it as his collar, Flaschmann pulls strings with some powerful friends of his to get them turned over to him and sent to a cushy POW camp (instead of being tortured, interrogated, and executed). A furious Venkschaft accuses him of hunting for headlines. It's a moot point; they escape from custody almost immediately after being turned over to Flaschmann.
Takamachi Nanoha Of 2814: When Chrono showed up on the scene he tried to assert himself as an official of the Time Space Adminstration Bureau but Nanoha, as the local offical of the Green Lantern Corps, put a quick end to that.
Feathers and Fire: A Republic fleet officer tells Atreus the captain of his caught smuggling can't be prosecuted because that guy was operating in Hutt space where the Republic has no authority.
In Bad Future Crusaders, Equestria's forces consist of the regular guards, Captain Rumble and his elite Stormfront unit, the Canterlot Criminal Investigation Department, the Royal Equestria Air Force, and Featherweight's changeling spy network. They are constantly bickering over who should handle what except for Featherweight, who only provides the other groups with Intel rather than actually acting.
In the fan made video "Gunther vs Paul", which is based off of the second hotel raid in Deus Ex, Gunther is about to haul off Paul, after defeating him in hand-to-hand combat, but MJ12 agents show up just in time and order him away, causing him much frustration.
Muppets Most Wanted has crimes committed by Constantine and Dominic being investigated by Sam the Eagle (who is shown to be part of the CIA) and Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon. They get very little done until the end of the movie due to a "mine is bigger than yours" Running Gag and because the Interpol agent is a Joke Character who is constantly on breaks for the purpose of poking fun at French worker's' entitlements.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop has the Quebec and Ontario police arguing over a dead body found lying on top of a highway sign indicating the precise location of the Quebec/Ontario border.
Martin: His heart is in Québec.
David: Ya l'Ontario dans l'cul aussi! ("He's got Ontario up his ass!")
Martin: What ?
David: But his ass belongs to you.
And the reason they have to work together in the first place is to stop the RCMP (i.e. the Feds) from getting involved and stealing all the glory.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard runs afoul of this twice in The Fugitive (1993) when chasing Dr. Richard Kimble.
In the first act, Sheriff Rollins, while investigating the crash of the prison bus and the train derailment that resulted, is sure that No One Could Survive That and is ready to close the case when the Feds happen on the scene. When Gerard insists on making sure, he makes clear that he has the authority to take jurisdiction. Somewhat reluctant, Rollins turns over all aspects of the investigation to them so that they won't receive complaints from the locals. Their attitude towards the case (and by extension the Feds) pulls a complete 180 when evidence is found that the eponymous fugitive is Not Quite Dead, which causes the U.S. Marshals and the Illinois State Police to successfully work together.
In the final act, there's a disagreement between Gerard and the Chicago Police Department after Dr. Kimble is believed to have shot a police officer on the 'L' (which was actually Sykes, who Kimble was able to disarm): the CPD wants to kill him, and Gerard and his team want to take him alive. The blood is so bad that Gerard actually gets pinned down by sniper fire from a police chopper while chasing Kimble on the roof of the hotel.
No Country for Old Men has the local sheriff being distinctly uninterested in the investigation the feds (DEA, I think) are conducting into the mass murder that occurred in his jurisidiction.
Inverted in Beverly Hills Cop III, where Detective Billy Rosewood has been appointed DDOJSIOC (Deputy Director of Joint Special Inter Operational Command), responsible for coordinating the efforts of the various L.A. metro area law-enforcement agencies as needed. At one point he assembles a veritable army of different units and uniforms, including Baywatch lifeguards, to surround and secure a single suspicious van, which proves to be empty; he gets chewed out for it.
The movie Murder at 1600 has Wesley Snipes as a Washington D.C. police homicide detective investigating a murder of a secretary at the White House. He has all kinds of Jurisdiction Friction with the Secret Service (which guards the White House). This is also a case of poor research (or maybe They Just Didn't Care) because any murders on Federal property (like the White House) are handled by the FBI.
In The Negotiator, Samuel L. Jackson's character is a Chicago P.D. officer who has taken hostages in the headquarters of the Chicago PD, but the building itself is owned by the Federal Government. The FBI agents agree to let the local authorities handle the situation temporarily, but then later take over. When Samuel L. Jackson escapes the building, the local police take over again, because he is now at large in the city, which is not Federal jurisdiction. (Realistically, the Feds would still have jurisdiction because he was still a suspect in a crime committed on Federal property.)
The Matrix, this happens in the opening when Agent Smith, Agent Brown, and Agent Jones show up at the Heart 'O the City Hotel while the police are arresting Trinity. In the simulated world created by the Matrix, bluepills apparently see the Agents as the equivalent of the FBI.
Agent Smith: Lieutenant.
Lieutenant: Oh, shit.
Agent Smith: Lieutenant, you were given specific orders.
Lieutenant: Hey, I'm just doing my job. If you give me that "juris-my-dick-tion" crap, you can cram it up your ass.
Agent Smith: The orders were for your protection.
Lieutenant:[laughs] I think we can handle one little girl. [Smith ignores him and starts walking towards the building] I sent two units! They're bringing her down now.
Agent Smith: No, lieutenant. Your men are already dead.[Inside, as the one police officer prepares to put the handcuffs on Trinity, she attacks him and his comrades, knocking out or killing them]
Mysteriously avoided in Taking Lives, in which the Sûreté du Québec swoop down in helicopters in front of a train station in Moncton, New Brunswick (somehow managing to get there from Quebec in 20 minutes).
The Spurbury Police Department and the Vermont Highway Patrol continually clash over jurisdiction in Super Troopers, even leading to an out-and-out brawl at a murder scene. There is a justification beyond general JerkAssery, though: The state doesn't have the money to maintain both stations, so the Highway Patrolmen need to get big crimes on their record to justify their existence. This ends up getting resolved when the Highway Patrolmen expose the massive amounts of corruption in the Police Department... and then, when the Highway Patrol station is shut down, simply join the police department to replace the disgraced officers.
Notably not how things would actually be done in Vermont. The town collects the tax money for police protection, and the town selectboard decides whether to establish/maintain its own force or contract with State Police or Sheriffs — that's a town matter, not a state one.
The Spurbury Police Department is never actually in danger of getting shut down. The question is always whether the State Police can justify the expense of the Troopers' station.
Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) has tension between the auto theft unit and the homicide unit of the same department about the Big Bad, who is wanted by both of them. You'd think that being part of the same police department after the same man they'd find it easier to work together to bring him in and simply increase his charge sheet (and thus the likelihood of him being convicted for something), but apparently not.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has a Federal Wildlife Marshall who shows up at a diamond heist claiming jurisdiction because the criminals also arranged for the animals in an animal testing facility next door to be released at the same time. The local cops resent this... less because of the jurisdiction issue, and more because he's a complete idiot.
This is shown in The Dark Knight, when Batman shows up at a crime scene and asks Gordon for a couple minutes alone before his men come in and contaminate it. Gordon is happy to oblige, but his officers take offense.
Mr. Lau flies back to Hong Kong to escape prosecution in Gotham City, saying he's out of Dent's jurisdiction and confident that China won't extradite a national. Joker retorts, in his warning about Batman to the mafia meeting, that Batman has no jurisdiction. Lo and behold, Batman comes a'knockin' on Lau's door.
Becomes a plot point in Die Hard because the Big Bad knows the FBI's standard responses to a hostage situation, and was counting on them to take the case from the LAPD and follow their playbook, helping him crack a safe and cover his escape.
Averted in Die Hard with a Vengeance. The NYPD Captain is ordering his men to search the schools and challenges the FBI Agent not to pull a jurisdictional stunt. The FBI Agent has kids in one of the threatened schools, and he's more than happy to help.
Averted in The Boondock Saints. FBI Agent Smecker is called in to investigate a murder in Boston because the dead men were connected with the Russian Mob. He shows up with Da Chief, who tells the detectives in no uncertain terms that they are to fully cooperate with Smecker. Smecker turns out to be incredibly good at his job and shortly earns the respect of the police.
Subverted in the sequel. The Detectives are trying to prevent Special Agent Bloom from finding out they were involved in Don Yakavetta's killing. Bloom knows, and is actually on their side, but is just having fun fucking with them.
Averted in The Presidio. The Officer's Club at the Presidio is broken into, and an investigating Military Policewoman is shot on the scene. During the ensuing chase, which spills out into the city of San Francisco, the SFPD take over, and two officers are killed when one of them is shot and their car crashes and explodes. The SFPD and the Military Police decide to work together to solve the case, although it turns out the installation Provost Marshal and the police inspector assigned to work together on the case have a history with each other, and do not get along.
First played straight then subverted in the film adaptation of Along Came A Spider. Alex Cross is brought in to investigate the kidnapping of a US Senator's daughter from their exclusive, secured private school. The Secret Service representative is at first cagey and defensive about having a simple detective being brought in lead the case, but later approaches Cross and apologizes, says he thinks jurisdiction arguments are "a massive waste of time", then asks what he can do to help.
In The Avengers, the World Security Council berates Nick Fury for handing over Loki to Thor to "face Asgardian justice" instead of letting him be tried on Earth as a war criminal. Fury replies by saying that he didn't give Loki to Thor, he just didn't see fit to start an argument with a demi-god over the matter.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore has this as a minor plot-point (while the organizations in question are not technically government arms, they act like it and actually refer to the issue as a jurisdiction problem): generally the cats' MEOWS and the dogs' DOG goes after threats from the other species, but in the Kitty Galore case MEOWS also claims jurisdiction on the logic that she's a Rogue Agent of MEOWS. To sidestep the jurisdiction issue, the two organizations agree to work together.
In Airheads, the disagreements between LAPD's Sgt. O'Malley and SWAT leader Carl Mace causes many problems, as Mace threatens to undermine O'Malley's negotiations by trying to take down Chazz.
In the 2002 film Blood Work, based on a novel by Michael Connelly, the killer pursued by former FBI agent Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) pulls this intentionally-he dumps a body on the exact boundary between two police forces to create a jurisdictional dispute and slow down their investigation.
Mullins and Asburn in The Heat, at first. Also, the DEA.
Parkland shows a small brawl between the Secret Service who want to take JFK's body back to Washington, and the Dallas police who insist that Texas law requires him to stay in the state.
A particularly absurd example occurs in Hitman, between Interpol Special Agent Mike Whittier and the Russian FSB. Not only does the real Interpol have no jurisdiction over any crimesnote its Real Life purpose is maintaining crime databases and facilitating information sharing between member law enforcement agencies, the investigation they are fighting over is the attempted assassination of the Russian President — in Russia!
In the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter (not sure about the TV series), the Miami Metro PD gets into a jurisdictional tangle when the Ice Truck Killer, who they're investigating, leaves a body in an area under a rival district's jurisdiction.
Happens in The Dresden Files book Fool Moon, where three FBI agents are investigating a string of murders caused by a werewolf. The Jurisdiction Friction is so bad, they almost come to violence against Murphy while investigating a crime scene. This is because they are the werewolves themselves, in particular demonic-influenced ones, and gradually losing their human minds to the Beast. The fact that they're the guilty parties, having set up another type of werewolf to lose control of his curse and attack a Mob head who's escaped justice, doesn't help.
This is addressed in several Vince Flynn books, most notably Transfer of Power. Of course, the different Agencies have it a bit easier than most examples, because their heads know each other personally, but there is still an acknowledged interagency rivalry and pride.
In Gorky Park the friction between the militia (police) and the KGB was quite apparent. It become a plot point when Renko, chief investigator for the Militsiya, wonders why the KGB hasn't taken the case away from him.
There's serious friction between the Night Watch (once a band of incompetents, now a semi-serious police force) and the Day Watch (basically a gang with badges) in Men at Arms, especially when Night Watch officers discover a body during the hours of daylight. There is also a jurisdiction question when a crime has been committed on guild territory since guilds are supposed to have jurisdiction over their members and the Watch can't take on the whole Assassins' Guild at once (although the Beggars' and Fools' Guilds are more accommodating). In the later books Commander Vimes and the City Watch are respected and feared enough that Guilds will cede jurisdiction. It helps that he's the Assasins' Guild's landlord.
And in Snuff, Vimes is in the Shires, where he has a certain amount of authority as a local landowner, but is explicitly not part of the (self-appointed) local law-enforcement hierarchy at all. But as far as Vimes is concerned, murder is a universal crime and that's all the jurisdiction he needs.
In the novel Pyramid Power, the Pyramid Security Agency runs roughshod over every other government agency that had anything they wanted due to their charter giving them authority over just about everything that can be associated with the alien pyramid that landed in Chicago. But one agency wasn't on the list of people they could overrule — the Fish and Wildlife Service — which brought charges against them for illegal actions against an endangered species — the sphinx and dragons that came out of the pyramid. Who then requested assistance in dealing with the violators from some of the agencies that the PSA had been pushing around — which included a regiment of paratroopers.
In Allegiance, Mara Jade, Darth Vader, and the Imperial Security Bureau all have their own different tasks, but there's one duty they all have in common: finding traitors and killing them. They don't get along. Vader is paranoid that Mara is being trained to replace him, Mara wishes he'd stop, and neither of them like the ISB. Both clash with Mara; the ISB tries to have her killed when she nears a truth they don't want her knowing, and Vader outright tries to murder her when he thinks she's after his target.
Matt Stover's novelization of Star Wars — Episode III: Revenge of the Sith describes an argument between Anakin Skywalker and the Jedi Council over who commands the Grand Army of the Republic after Palpatine is given oversight of the Jedi Council. When argument breaks out after Anakin clarifies that with his new powers, Palpatine is now Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, Yoda states "Pointless it is, to squabble over jurisdiction." (Yoda couldn't have been more wrong — Palpatine's gaining direct control over the clones was exactly what allowed him to order them to execute Order 66, the order that wiped out almost all of the Jedi.)
In the Tom Clancy novel Executive Orders, one of Jack Ryan's first acts as president is to settle a turf dispute. The Boeing 747 crash into the US Capitol building left the NTSA (responsible for investigating airplane crashes), the Secret Service (the President was killed), and the FBI (terrorism, assault on a Federal building) and the Washington DC police department (murder) all with claim to the investigation. Ryan orders the FBI to take the lead, as it's bigger and has more resources, with the Secret Service a close second.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, Lannister soldiers arrive with an arrest warrant for Gendry, who has joined the Night's Watch. Yoren asserts that recruits of the Night's Watch are immune from arrest, but the Lannister men refuse to back down, resulting in a fight.
Appears frequently in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series of Tony Hillerman, about two detectives on the Navajo Tribal Police. Homicides committed on Indian Reservations are FBI jurisdiction, which often leads to conflict between the Navajo detectives and the FBI agents. Individual agents such as Kennedy may be decent people, but the FBI as a whole is portrayed as an inept bureaucracy.
With FBI agents pulled to Florida from all over the country, in A Deeper Blue, to deal with a possible terrorist attack using VX nerve gas, those from New York run into trouble "interfacing" with Lake County deputies, who hold a rather low opinion of the FBI in general due to previous conflicts, and an FBI motto that seems to the locals to be "Ready, Fire, Aim."
The Apprentice Rogue:Artamos is part of the Order of Black Knights, which is tantamount to the kingdom's Black Ops. The mission that forms the plot is Artamos' responsibility so he has to enforce his authority over the plate mail knights from both his own kingdom and his charge's kingdom; both of them think they should be in charge.
In the Vorkosigan Saga there is a rivalry between Imp Sec and local police, as well as the normal military police. This takes on a nationalistic component in Komarr which is a conquered planet and still resentful. There is also a rivalry between Imp Sec and Ops within the Barryaran service, however that is more Interservice Rivalry.
This happens in Hen of the Baskervilles from the Meg Langslow Mysteries when a body ends up splayed across the county line of Caerphilly County and Clay County. Clay County is very much unequipped to do a proper investigation of the murder, but wants jurisdiction anyway. Meg and the Caerphilly County police chief manage to convince them to give Clay County to give the case to them by insinuating that the cost of the investigation will be astronomical, though Clay County still insists on having one of their people on the case as an observer, who turns out to be an interfering idiot. The twist in this case is that he's not simply an interfering idiot, he also happens to be the murderer.
Averted in Charlotte MacLeod's novel Vane Pursuit, in which various (but connected) crimes are committed in a variety of locations separated by hundreds of miles, and the law enforcement personnel are all happy to cooperate with each other and agree to let their superiors sort out who will actually have jurisdiction.
In Ellery Queen's novel The Glass Village, jurisdiction friction is the main point of the story. Residents of a small town fear that the stranger they blame for the murder of a local woman will "get away with it" if he's prosecuted by the state. To avoid a lynching, the stranger is tried by the local townsfolk with the assistance of a judge who deliberately does everything incorrectly, so that the verdict will be overturned on appear and he can have a fair trial after tensions have eased.
The FBI is mentioned several times in Under a Graveyard Sky as making it difficult to track down the virus turning people into Technically Living Zombies, as the microbiology experts supposed to be assisting them are also the primary suspects, and the FBI's concern is more "find the guilty party" than "stop the virus". CDC staffers are particularly hostile to the FBI, thanks to how they reacted to previous events like the anthrax attack shortly after the September 11, 2001 attack.
Ragnarok, the first book in The Echo Case Files, utilises the classic 'feds versus local cops', in which the fed protagonists can technically steamroller through anything the local cops try and put in their way, but (initially at least) try and play nicely with them, to avoid making enemies.
The fourth Rivers of London book, "Broken Homes", puts a spin on this. Peter states that unlike in television, friction occurs when other branches or services won't take over a murder or unusual case. Turns out murder investigations are really complicated, generate a huge amount of paperwork, use up all of the manpower budget and forensics budget, and are generally a pain in the arse all around (and that is just the mundane ones). Most Chief Inspectors are desperate to get that sort of headache off their budget.
Happens in The Snow Queen Series. On the planet Tiamat, only off-worlders are subject to the star-spanning Hegemony's legal system; any Tiamatans caught in crime must be turned over to the Snow Queen's justice. Unless it's a crime that would affect her or her plans, Queen Arienrhod usually simply releases the perpetrators. Thus, criminal enterprises on the planet generally need only use a Tiamatan front man or front woman to avoid prosecution. This is an endless source of frustration to Hegemonic Police Commander Jerusha PalaThion and her force.
Miami Vice did this often with the standard local vs. Feds variety. Sometimes averted when the Feds specifically asked for Vice assistance. Notably, sometimes the Vice squad bumped heads with detectives in other Miami police divisions like homicide or theft.
Happens a fair bit in Sons of Anarchy; there are various clashes between the local police, the local sheriffs, the ATF, the FBI and even the CIA at the end of season 4.
The Maquis freedom fighters were attacking Cardassians, but while based outside Federation space they were still technically Federation citizens, making it very testy—if not an outright race—as to whether Starfleet was going to find them and stop them, or the Cardassians were going to find them and kill them.
You won't find many Starfleet officers who actually like Section 31, and most 31 operatives regard Starfleet as idealistic dreamers with no idea of how the universe truly works. Yet both are sanctioned forces of the Federation.
The initial Starfleet/Bajoran Militia team up at the beginning of Deep Space Nine was like this.
Similarly, Deep Space Nine goes in depth into the rivalry between the Cardassian Central Command (military) and the Obsidian Order (very powerful civilian secret police.) Given that the Obsidian Order is an extremely powerful entity in Cardassia, which is basically fascist, it's inevitable that they and the military will come into serious conflict on a regular basis. Really, any time a secret police force exists in Star Trek, you can expect it to come into conflict with the military at some point, probably quite a lot.
In 24, a great many plots and subplots involve Jurisdiction Friction. 24 being the way it is, the conflict spirals way beyond Fed vs. Local. Past conflicts have involved CTU vs. The US Secret Service, CTU vs. LAPD, CTU vs. The Armed Forces, CTU vs. The FBI; it gets pretty interesting. Subverted though, in that in several instances, various organizations will team up to stop their common Big Bad.h
In the 24: Live Another Day novel Deadline, a character thinks to himself about the fact that contrary to the way things are usually portrayed in the movies, the arrival of the FBI generally doesn't spark an immediate rivalry with law enforcement agencies.
In Kilner's experience, the opposite was usually the truth. State or county cops with less manpower and typically with operational budgets that were already stretched to the limit would welcome the involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Friction often occurs not only between the NYPD and feds, but between their Order equivalents, the Manhattan District Attorney and the US Attorney's office. Also, the other boroughs, other towns or counties in the state, the state government, the Port Authority, New Jersey, other US States, the US military, Canada, and other nations. It's one of the writers' favorite ways to disrupt a case that could be a slam dunk by the 45 minute mark. It helps that New York's unique position in geography and politics means it has a lot of overlapping government spheres of influence, second only perhaps to Washington, D.C.
In only the first season for example, one of three Federal inmates in a prison van is murdered during transport to court in Manhattan, leading to NYPD detectives and FBI agents bickering over who has the jurisdiction to question the other two prisoners while the deceased is lying dead on the pavement. It then gets averted when the investigation leads them to Ian O'Connell, an accused killer with ties to the IRA. A British agent observing the subsequent trial not only cedes authority to Ben Stone, he offers to have a character witness from the UK fly to New York on the next Concorde to rebut the defendant's testimony. As he says to Stone, "O'Connell belongs in jail. Your jail, our jail, it doesn't matter."
Two episodes ("Jurisdiction" and "Bronx Cheer") both dealt with overlapping jurisdictions where the Manhattan DA prosecuted one person and another jurisdiction prosecuted (or convicted) someone else for the same crime. Both times, the people the other jurisdiction prosecuted were actually innocent and had been railroaded for political reasons.
The Wire has a reverse of the standard version. One law enforcement jurisdiction will often try to foist murder cases onto another to avoid having their numbers go down when the case inevitably goes unsolved. The city police actually go to the FBI, begging for their assistance in busting criminals or solving crimes, but the Feds usually turn them down due to their new, mandated focus on terrorism.
Subverted when the clearly-more-competent FBI comes to town to investigate a serial killer and the local crew try desperately (and fail) to (in the words of Lt. Dangle) "not seem like dicks" to them.
Played for laughs on another occasion where the Reno sheriffs' drug sting operation (posing as a buyer) nets-a DEA sting operation (posing as the seller), after both go through a Long List of humorous drug euphemisms.
Dr. Huang (an FBI profiler) often acted as a mediator between the squad and the feds. One gets the feeling during the times he actually takes the FBI's side, he does so not because he thinks they're right, but because he doesn't particularly like Stabler most of the SVU team.
Another episode featured Benson and Stabler going up against the FBI when one of the key participants in their case was revealed to be in the Federal Witness Protection Program as a witness to a key Federal case. Subverted, in that Benson and Stabler's interference in the Federal case merely ended up getting the guy killed and screwing up both the FBI and NYPD investigations.
Largely averted in Criminal Minds: the FBI main cast won't get involved in a case until the local authorities ask for help, since they don't want the locals to stop asking. This was a minor problem in one episode until an agent notices that a letter from the UnSub was sent from a different state, giving the FBI jurisdiction anyway.
It was a major issue in one episode, where Reid and Prentiss are sent into a cult compound to investigate allegations of pedophilia, posing as social workers (since the FBI isn't welcomed by cultists). Before they sent agents in, the FBI checked to make sure that no other law enforcement organisations were planning operations that could interfere, receiving negative answers from police at all levels. In fact the governor had been planning a major raid by the state police and lied about it, since he didn't want the FBI co-opting his big operation, and went ahead with it while Reid and Prentiss were still inside, sending the cultists into a siege and endangering the agent;s lives. When Hotch takes command of the situation he essentially bans the state authorities from the scene in retribution, relying solely on the county sheriffs.
Stargate SG-1 bristles when it comes to the NID, but it all gets really simple once they turn out to be the Bad Guys anyway.
In CSI, the titular forensic technicians have apparently unlimited authority to interrogate suspects, pursue fugitives, engage in gun battles, make arrests, and cut deals. In the real world, their obviously massive share of departmental funding alone would make the normal cops psychotically jealous — but the eager and justifiable use of the Law of Conservation of Detail makes many a Fan Dumb believe that in the CSI Verse the normal cops are useless. Also, it seems that CSI also have ridiculous authority to investigate crimes and incidents that clearly would fall under Federal Jurisdiction (The bus accident in CSI, and the plane crash in CSI: Miami being prime examples which would fall under National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency)
Actually has been played straight a couple of times. The first season had at least one episode where the CSIs clashed with the FBI. Popped up again more recently in "Zippered".
Played straighter in CSI NY, with Mac butting heads with the U.N. over a French diplomat who died during a New York party. Mac wanted to move the body for autopsy, but got refused for a while.
Parodied when the Treasury Department horns in on a case. Naturally, they have their own Federal psychic consultant.
And used again when Chief Vick (police) and her sister (Coast Guard) get in a fight over which of them has jurisdiction over a case.
Comes up frequently in NCIS. Is the dead body of the week a matter for NCIS, their counterparts in the Army, the FBI, or a local enforcement agency? Sometimes, characters on all sides get so snappy about jurisdiction that it seems they're more interested in having cases on their records than catching the bad guys... and the main characters are not above playing some dirty tricks in order to keep control of an investigation, such as when they agree to hand over a corpse to the FBI but put one of their own (live) agents in the body bag instead.
The pilot episode both played it straight and subverted it. First, a Navy Commander dies on Air Force One, and the case is fought over by NCIS, FBI, and the Secret Service. Then a Marine Major dies in identical circumstances and the local police have no problems handing the case over, 'cause they've got another body across town to deal with.
Gibbs has a frontierish eye-for-an-eye attitude toward justice that in some ways resembles that of a clan chief more then that of a cop. The cases he demands are often those in which he vaguely feels he has some reason to think It's Personal.
Averted in another episode of NCIS; the local cop offers to cooperate fully, in exchange for all credit.
Mostly ignored on NCIS: Los Angeles as the LAPD usually isn't informed of what's happening. Did show up in an episode where each group was conducting an undercover op into the same people, which caused enough of a problem that the team gained an LAPD detective as a liaison and member of the team.
Los Angeles also tends to give this a nod whenever the team has to do something that would require going through local channels, but don't have the time — Hettie goes a long way back with a lot of people and can easily procure the warrants needed to veto the usual chain of command.
This gets played for laughs at one point where the local cops hand over a case with absolutely no hesitation. The team thinks this is suspicious... then notice the dead guy kept a meticulous filing system without a computer.
Built into The Closer, given that Brenda Leigh Johnson, a detective with the LAPD, is married to an FBI agent.
The Dukes of Hazzard occasionally saw this, when Hazzard's Sheriff Rosco Coltrane clashed with Sheriff Little of neighboring Chickasaw County.
Inverted in Homicide Life On The Street, when a detective takes a corruption case involving a judge and local drug dealers to the local office of the FBI and the friction comes from the fact that the FBI don't seem interested in taking the case or what the cop has to say. Disgruntled, the cop leaves, but one of the agents corners him and explains off-the-record that they're already investigating the case; official policy is not to let on to the locals, hence their apparent lack of interest. Satisfied, the cop agrees not to let on that he talked to them.
Sometimes played straight, sometimes averted, on The X-Files. Considering that Agent Mulder is the Trope Namer for a conspiracy believing weirdo, understandably some local cops are annoyed when he shows up spouting his nonsense. Others are happy to let him take the case off their hands, and a tiny minority even believe him.
Surprisingly averted in a Season Two episode of Castle. The FBI shows up, there's a little Jurisdiction Friction but they ultimately wind up helping more than getting in the way (although they still need Castle's insight to actually get the case solved), and the FBI agents in question are nice people. Most of what tension there is seems to stem primarily from the fact that Beckett is seething with jealousy (not that she admits it) about Castle's fascination with the gadgets the FBI bring with them and the way he clicks with the lead FBI profiler.
Again averted in in "Setup"/"Countdown," when the Department of Homeland Security pulls rank once the case involves possible radiation and foreign terrorism. The DHS agent in charge, while a hard-ass, is actually a reasonable guy; the fact that Castle had a private meeting with a member of a foreign government's Secret Police is a valid reason to be furious.
Comes up again in "Lynchpin." There's Jurisdiction Friction but Castle and Beckett are on the other side of it as they're working with the CIA and required to keep secrets from their colleagues at the NYPD.
Once again comes up in "The Human Factor". An American dissident is killed by a military drone missile and the Feds completely block the NYPD's attempts at investigation at an apparent attempt at coverup. Once Beckett gets her hands on the Special Investigator from the Attorney General's office, however, and extracts a promise of help from the Attorney General himself, they get along better.
Played more-or-less straight in the Sixth season ep "Need to Know", only with Beckett now working for a Federal task-force taking the case away from Castle and the NYPD. In order to help her colleagues with the NYPD, Beckett goes against her Federal partner McCord and provides the press with an anonymous tip. McCord later tells her that she thinks Beckett did the right thing, but their superiors disagree, and Beckett is fired.
Similarly averted in Rizzoli & Isles. When the FBI shows up, the only real friction is between Detective Frost and the head agent, and it's immediately obvious that it's something personal. She was Frost's former fiancé.
Some serious jurisdiction friction crops up "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" when the NSA decides a murder has national security implications. Although the NSA has no authority to investigate homicides, they seize all of the evidence they claim has security implications and refuse to grant the BPD team access to it.
Mostly absent on NUMB3RS — when the LAPD show up, it's usually to provide the FBI with more boots on the ground.
However, Don Eppes did clash with a narcotics detective in the episode "Man Hunt", and with the NSA in the episode "Finders Keepers."
Although the Sanctuary team has no real jurisdiction, this trope comes into play a few times as they try to gather abnormal-related evidence before the law enforcement comes in and sets up jurisdiction.
Played straight and parodied on Dollhouse. FBI Agent Ballard gets stonewalled by an ATF Agent after the latter completely botches a high-risk warrant on a religious cult (Does This Remind You of Anything??). Later, several of the Dolls and their human handlers are sent to investigate an outbreak, but the handlers are only given cover identities as private security. Topher, as a joke, programs the Dolls to think they are NSA Agents, who act like jurisdiction-stripping jackasses to their handlers.
The Shield: Played for serious drama, as Vic manipulates the LAPD and ICE against each other in an effort to get a job offer and an immunity deal from the latter.
JAG: Occurs in several episodes. Not only with external parties (i.e. non-military) such as local police or FBI; but often the local commanding officer does not like the presence of JAG officers from Washington in his/her fiefdom.
When an alien structure is found on the planet near Babylon 5, an Earth Force cruiser arrives and the Captain argues with Commander Sinclair over who should investigate it. The Captain wins at first, by right of seniority (a Captain outranks a Commander), but Sinclair proceeds to use every trick he can to hinder the Captain's misguided attempts to sieze control of the machine. Both end up teaming up against an alien warship that arrives and attacks the station, wanting to stake their own claim. At the end of the episode, once the crisis has passed, the Captain informs Sinclair that their higher-ups decided that Sinclair was the one in the right, and apologizes before departing.
Talia Winters and Susan Ivanova argued on what to do with a teenage thief who just awakened with Telepathic abilities; Talia wanted the teenager to join the Psicorps, and Susan wanted to have her go through the justice system. Dr. Stephen Franklin intervened, saying that since the teenager is unconscious, she is in medical care, and both of them should leave as they could be disturbing the patient.
When the war criminal known as Deathwalker turns up on Babylon 5, just about every member race of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds sends a warship that demands that she be turned over or else they would attack the station. Ivanova defuses the situation by getting them to argue with each other over which one of the threatening warships Deathwalker should be turned over to, as there was only one of her. Also, the major powers want her immortality drug or want to avoid a trial. Sinclair negotiates a truce that allows the development of the immortality drug, and a trial. Deathwalker reveals that the drug requires a death for a life. Then Kosh asserts his jurisdictional claim and kills Deathwalker
When a bomb goes off in one of the fighter bays soon before the President of the Earth Alliance is expected to arrive on Babylon 5, a detachment of his security detail arrives to try and take control of the situation. Garibaldi is accused of being behind the bombing, and ends up going into hiding while he tries to find out what is going on. Commander Sinclair covertly helps him while Lt. Commander Ivanova is as unhelpful as possible for the security detail's commander. The security detail's second in command is revealed to be The Mole and Garibaldi saves the day.
Michael Westen in Burn Notice made use of this trope one time, walking into a torched building and claiming to be from the county government. He didn't get free access to the site, but it bought him a few minutes while the city fire chief called the county office.
The second season of Dexter has a variation. When Dexter's victims are discovered, an FBI taskforce is sent to assist Miami Metro, because the task force leader (Special Agent Lundy) is an expert at difficult serial killer cases. This trope is defied by Captain Matthews, who insists that the case will not be a "jurisdictional circle-jerk." Lundy joins his task force with the Homicide team and generally works well and respectfully with them. When another killer starts copycatting Dexter, Lundy warns that the FBI may seize total control of the investigation; Dexter ends up killing the copycat, so that he won't be locked out of the loop.
Happens again (briefly) in the Third Season: A series of murders are blamed on a local drug dealer that killed the kid brother of a Crusading ADA and a high-ranking Miami-Dade Sheriff's Deputy. ( Dexter actually killed both the dealer and the brother, the latter by accident.) When a body is found matching the killer's MO but outside Miami's metro area, the Deputy uses this to shoehorn his way into Miami PD and take over the investigation.
The fourth season has the FBI take control of the investigation into the Trinity Killer. The Homicide team is especially bitter about this, since they had not only done pretty much all of the legwork by then, but the FBI had been ignoring Lundy's insistence that the killings were connected for 15 years.
On The Mentalist, the CBI often finds itself bumping up against local police departments who are not happy about them having jurisdiction.
A finger of a missing (later revealed to be murdered) man from Nevada was found in the desert and a team of experts was needed to establish which side of the California-Nevada border the spot where the finger was found was in. If it was in Nevada, the CBI would have no jurisdiction. If in California, they'd be allowed to work on the investigations. Considering who the protagonists of the show are, it's obvious which state the finger was found in.
In the fifth season premiere "The Crimson Ticket," the F.B.I. and C.B.I. agents have a throwdown regarding the events of the previous season's finale.
A non-law enforcement example occurs in the last episode of The West Wing, where a train is caught in an ice-storm at a point hazily around the Massachusetts / New Hampshire border and both state governors are dithering about exactly who's responsibility it is to send the rescue teams out. This means that one of President Bartlet's last official acts in office turns out to be calling both governors at the same time, picking one at random, and basically telling him not to be such a damn idiot and send his state's National Guard out anyway, since no one cares who's job it is to rescue the train as long as someone does it.
On New Tricks the team occasionally experiences this when a cold case they are investigating turns out to be connected to an active case. They are not supposed to be investing active cases since most of them are not actually police officers any more.
In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Officer Don's sting operation against a video pirate is taken over by a state cop played by Miguel Ferrer:
Jack: Jack McMannus, state crime division. Don: What? Like the Feds? Jack: No. Feds are federal. I'm with the state. See, it's Feds, [gestures up high] state, [gestures slightly lower] you. [gestures way down low] [later] Tommy: Hey, who's this guy? Jack: Jack McMannus, with the state. Harry: Ooh, a Fed! [gestures up high]
Alcatraz: Since Alcatraz was a federal prison, Hauser's federal taskforce should have jurisdiction over capturing the returning "63s". However, since the government's been keeping a tight Masquerade on the disappearance and return of the inmates, and the crimes committed by the 63s so far have fallen under SFPD jurisdiction, there's been a lot of headbutting between the groups. Fortunately, since Rebecca's a cop, she's able to handle the cases without stepping on toes.
Episode 4 has Hauser intentionally invoking this trope as a delaying tactic — the villain of the week has taken hostages in a bank, and the police have arrived to deal with it. Hauser plays the role of traditional FBI agent in these situations in order to distract the cops long enough for Rebecca to sneak in and extract the target.
"I'm going to go join that jurisdictional pissing match over there and buy you some time."
A big part of early episodes of Chuck, in which CIA agent Sarah and NSA agent Casey have to work together with MacGuffin Guy Chuck. This fades in later episodes to the point where the writers seem to forget that Sarah and Casey work for two different agencies.
The main concept of Bron|Broen. A serial murderer dumps human remains exactly on the border between two countries, so that the police of the cities on each side of the border have to co-operate unwillingly.
Likewise the concept of the upcoming US remake The Bridge, with the borders moved to US and Mexico.
The Murdoch Mysteries episode "Anything You Can Do" begins with a Mountie taking control of Murdoch's investigation on the grounds that the victim is a suspect he's been pursuing.
The Leverage team uses this to their advantage in one episode. In "The Radio Job", they get barricaded by FBI inside a building, so they fake a terrorist threat and turn the situation into a turf war between the Feds and Homeland Security. While the two team leaders are butting heads, they buy themselves times and escape through a series of distractions.
In Game of Thrones, Lannister soldiers claiming the king's authority come to arrest Gendry, who has joined the Night's Watch. Yoren asserts that recruits of the Night's Watch are immune from arrest, but the Lannister men refuse to back down, resulting in a fight.
On Twin Peaks, the events surrounding the murder of Laura Palmer crossed the county line, thus necessitating the presence of FBI agent Dale Cooper. When he arrives in Twin Peaks, he tells Sheriff Truman that he's encountered this trope in past dealings with local law (see above under Film for an instance of his colleague dealing with it) and hopes to avoid any friction here. In pleasant defiance of the trope, Truman completely agrees and the two quickly become friends, with one exception: when Cooper advises Truman, on scant evidence, to release Ben Horne and drop the charge of Laura Palmer's murder, Truman, for the first time, refuses point blank, declaring he's "had enough of the mumbo jumbo" involved in Cooper's eccentric approach to law enforcement. Of course the whole thing is quickly resolved when they discover the killer was Laura's father Leland, possessed byBOB.
Played straighter in Sheriff Truman's antagonistic relationship to Agent Rosenfeld, the FBI forensics specialist, who acts much more like the classic Jerk Ass fed trope until eventually chilling out.
Played straight and subverted in the second season, when Cooper's pursuit of cocaine smugglers crossing the Canadian border puts him in a feud with an RCMP officer ( who turns out to be crooked) and under investigation by the DEA. The subversion is that the DEA agent is an entirely reasonable cop who ends up helping Cooper to prove his innocence.
An episode of Bones had the Roswell Sheriff refuse to release a mysterious body to the FBI. For good reason.
Sheriff: I'm not allowing the Feds to swoop in and take off with a mysterious body. (Gets a painful look on his face.) Not after what happened last time.
An episode of Southland sees two LAPD officers, one of them Jessica Tang, argue with a pair of LA County officers over who takes responsibility for cleaning up a guy hit by a train, with his remains spread from the track (County jurisdiction) to the road. However, when Tang tongue-lashes someone down the phone over getting help for a homeless retired Marine, the County officers quickly agree to take the body.
This is a recurring problem on Longmire. Longmire has no jurisdiction on the Native reserve and is openly despised by the tribal police because he got their old police chief arrested for corruption. In turn both police forces hate getting the feds involved if they can avoid it. Longmire also gets into trouble when an investigation leads into the neighboring county and that county's sheriff is not happy that Longmire did not notify him.
The rivalry between the Metropolitan Police and the City Police causes problems in the Ripper Street episode "The King Came Calling".
Happened in Doctor Who in "The Claws of Axos". Britain's Ministry of Security wanted to control UNIT, and the Brigadier spends the episode battling bureaucrat Horatio Chinn over the issue.
In the original Battlestar Galactica episode "Greetings from Earth", there's a clash between the military and civilian authorities over who should control a shuttlecraft full of humans in suspended animation.
An episode of Frost has David Jason's Inspector Frost (Britain's answer to Columbo) seeking to investigate a suspected murder on an Army base. Frost is hindered and frustrated by the Royal Military Police (who at the time of screening were following the old principle of demarcation between British civilian and military authorities: if a serious crime happened on a military base, it was for the RMP to investigate and no business of the civilian cops, whose remit began at the barracks gates). Frost sees how amateurish and incompetent the Army cops are at investigating murder, and gets involved anyway: as he uncovers skullduggery, financial corruption, bullying, illegal sale of military equipment, et c, the Army cops eventually realise they're all on the same team. Eventually.
In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Kevin blackmails a Navy officer to persuade her to allow Sam and Dean, who are posing as FBI agents, to investigate a crime on the Navy base where the FBI would not have jurisdiction.
One episode, "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty", involved an actual dispute over jurisdiction, as one subplot is that Stottlemeyer and Disher have personally captured wanted fugitive Miguel Escobar, who they are arresting for a local homicide. But the FBI and DEA want to try Escobar first because he's guilty of drug trafficking charges in multiple states. Stottlemeyer is reluctant until the FBI agent who passes him word of the transfer of custody produces a warrant from the U.S. attorney general.
Other episodes like "Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect", "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather", "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever", and "Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy" put the local and federal cops in tense cooperation (with the SFPD and Monk invariably solving the case and embarrassing the wrongheaded feds). Stottlemeyer is also shown to have contempt for Agent Grooms (who is with the ATF in "Sleeping Suspect" and FBI in "Cabin Fever").
"Really, Really Dead Guy" was a particularly egregious case as the jurisdiction friction is over a particularly gruesome homicide involving a street musician who was killed six ways (struck over the head, suffocated with a plastic bag, poisoned, stabbed four times, shot two times, and run over with a car, in that order). In reality, the FBI has no jurisdiction over homicides unless they are political figures, people in the witness protection program, the homicide was committed during a crime that is a federal offense (like a security guard being killed during a bank robbery) or the killer crossed state lines in committing the crime. The entire case should have been handled by the SFPD only.
On the other hand, they worked well together in "Mr. Monk Is Someone Else". And in "Mr. Monk Bumps His Head", Randy Disher persuaded the FBI to lend the SFPD a plane, so evidently they get along on rare occasions.
Good News Week: Invoked by Paul McDermott when John Howard's government was considering sending in the army to deal with a docks dispute:
"No, no, no. You send the navy in to deal with a dock strike. You send the army to deal with a coal miners' strike, and you send the air force in to deal with a pilots' strike! Otherwise, the navy, army, and air force get into a big demarcation dispute and go out on strike, and the government has to send in the wharfies to defend us against invasion! Which isn't a bad idea — when those wharfies cover the coastline, nothing gets ashore!
Arises several times in Fringe, not helped by the fact that the Fringe department generally can't explain what they are doing and would sound insane if they did. They also had to deal with higher-ups who viewed them as a rogue group occasionally.
In Gotham, Gotham PD has the Homicide Division and the Major Crimes Division constantly clashing over who gets the murder cases. Not to mention the hostility due to accusations of one side being corrupt over the other.
In the Champions universe the two U.S. government anti-supervillain agencies PRIMUS and SAT have been known to squabble over who's in charge of investigating or dealing with supercrimes. Likewise, conservative elements in the U.S government resented the way UNTIL charged around the U.S. and created SAT specifically so the U.S. could handle its own super-problems.
Used to great effect by the shadowrunners who are Genre Savvy. The very basis of the setting's Mega Corp. system is that corporations of a certain size are granted extraterritoriality over their possessions, with private security to enforce corporate laws which may or may not match up with the local government's version. A sufficiently daring shadowrunner can commit a run in a government area and escape into a corporate zone, or vice versa, where the opposing police force cannot pursue him. Tensions between public and corporate police forces are high enough that extradition is rarely an issue; between opposing corporations, even more so. Just be careful not to get caught: Private security tends not to be overly concerned with such trivialities like the Geneva Convention, and the poor unlucky runner might find himself the recipient of some creative product testing rather than a nice safe prison term.
The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America. In Washington D.C. there's considerable conflict over jurisdiction between the FedPol (Federal Police) and the FDC (Federal District of Columbia) National Guard.
Space Marine chapters in the Warhammer 40,000 universe can be notorious for this. The Space Wolves and Dark Angels chapters, rivals for the past 10,000 years, have actually fought wars with each other over jurisdictional grievances.
This is cranked up yet another notch when the Inquisition gets involved. Members of the Inquisition technically only answer to each other and the Emperor, and can call upon the aid of any Imperial citizen, from a janitor to a High Lord of Terra. However, Space Marine chapters, fleet units and armies of the Imperial Guard sometimes take exception to the Inquisitor's edicts, and have enough political clout and firepower to make an Inquisitor's day miserable. This is cranked up ANOTHER notch when two Inquisitors start butting heads.
It's explicitly said a few times in the backstory that the Space Marine chapters do not answer to the High Lords of Terra or the Inquisition. The novels focused on the Grey Knights and Deathwatch (both of which are attached to the Inquisition, mind you!) state that they are just as autonomous as Codex chapters. It's explained in one sourcebook that this is yet another measure put in place to prevent another Horus. It really only comes into play when the Inquisitor of the story gives an order the Marine Captain of the day disagrees with, so that when the Inquisitor inevitably plays the "You answer to ME!" card, the Marines can go "Uhhhh....no we don't, piss off."
Some systems also have their own branches of the Commissariat in charge of the local Planetary Defense Forces. The friction happens when the Imperial Guard has to defend those systems, because the local commissars tend to punish IG members, which is overstepping their bounds as far as commissars in the main branch are concerned. The local commissars have a tendency to get shot by the members of the main Commissariat.
It gets more interesting on the law front, as the Ecclesiarchy has its own courts which are wholly independent of civil law; the AdeptusArbites have jurisdiction over all Imperial crimes (plus general law enforcement on some worlds directly administered by the Imperium rather than local governor), and only have to defer to the Inquisition, so there have been numerous occasions when they have clashed with the Ecclesiastical courts, or even the Commissariat (on at least one occasion, the Arbites have arrested an entire Imperial Navy task force, and on another, commandeered a cruiser in the middle of a contested warzone to provide the muscle to arrest an Imperial Planetary Governor). To make matters even more fun, the Adeptus Mechanicus has its own laws and enforcers, and its members technically aren't even Imperial citizens, but members of a (semi-subordinate) allied (semi-)sovereign polity, meaning trying to pin a crime on them is really tricky. Oh, and the exact set of laws that apply in any situation depend upon whose territory it is.
In Alan Wake, an FBI agent called Nightingale assumes control of the Sheriff's Office and the Washington State Rangers of Bright Falls, Washington in order to capture the eponymous protagonist. However, it soon turns out that Nightingale is a Trigger Happy drunkard, who tries to shoot and kill an unarmed Wake and instead nearly injures innocent bystanders on two separate occasions. The local sheriff, Sarah Breaker, calls him out on this, and it turns out that Nightingale is suspended, and is trying to capture Wake on his own accord and without any legal backing in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, as he thinks Wake is responsible for the death of his former partner. He is wrong, if only slightly.
Deadly Premonition closely follows the example set by Twin Peaks when FBI agent Francis York Morgan rolls into a small town to investigate a murder. Friction occurs between himself and the local authorities until York reveals the murder is part of a much larger case and completely takes control of the case.
Final Fantasy XIII has an army that is split into two divisions: PSICOM (Public Security and Intelligence Command) and the Guardian Corps. The Purge that is central to the game's events is orchestrated by PSICOM, but when things go wrong, they cover it up from the Guardian Corps. Then when that doesn't work out, they enlist the Guardian Corps.'s help, but the Corps. gets upset when a PSICOM commander starts giving orders in a village that has traditionally been protected by the Guardian Corps.
In the Mass Effect series, Spectres are an elite Council Agents granted absolute authority in Citadel Space. Various law-enforcement agencies are told to simply look the other way whenever Spectres arrive on the scene, much to their annoyance.
Asari Justicars are fully committed to upholding an ancient and strict Code that allows for no leniency. Asari law enforcement is obligated to stand aside if one shows up but gets very worried as there's a good chance that anyone involved in a crime, no matter how small, will end up dead very soon, which tends to be a diplomatic nightmare when the person in question is anything other than another asari. In fact, the Justicars are one of the two groups that were used as a basis for the Spectres.
In The X-Files Game, the player character can meet the town's detective that is on scene for a crime investigation. The detective will hate your guts and if you decide to push it further by being a bigger jerk ass over how the investigation belongs to the FBI, you will get fired.
In the Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth subseries, whether due to Interpol involvement, foreign national issues or simple prosecutor substitution, Edgeworth cannot seem to get through a single case without someone else claiming jurisdiction over the crime scene and demanding that he leave. Given his unending quest for the truth, this rarely stops him.
Rainbow Six references jurisdiction issues quite a bit since Team Rainbow often needs to be first called upon by the government that needs them. In the case of the fifth game, Rainbow Six Vegas, a "jurisdictional pissing match" between local law enforcement, FBI, and the military means to a slow response to the terrorist attack on Las Vegas. However the government allows Rainbow to help because they have a team in place lead by a former Delta Force operative (the player character). The FBI and SWAT are later shown to be glad for the help.
Grand Theft Auto V has a rivalry between the "FIB" and "IAA" (expies of the FBI and CIA, respectively) take up a good portion of the single-player plot. It is far more extreme than any such inter-agency rivalry in real life (we hope), stopping just short of outright warfare between the agencies.
In the Whateley Universe story "Loose Cannons", a five-way battle took place between the M-SOC (Metahuman Special Operations Command), the MCO (Mutant Commission Office), some unnamed jerks in power armor, the KoP (Knights Of Purity), and some superpowered teenagers. The M-SOC, the MCO and the KoP were "arguing" jurisdiction over arresting the teenagers.
In "The Snuke," which parodied 24: Kyle's attempt to track down a terrorist cell through social networking websites is taken over in sequence by the FBI, Homeland Security, the CIA, the Secret Service, and the NSA, all within less than two minutes. Kyle then takes it back by just saying so.
NSA Agent: All right, we're in charge now! Kyle: (pause) Not any more, you're not. NSA Agent: Oh, snap.
This was also parodied in "Lil' Crime Stoppers" when the boys were playing detective agency, and had their game taken over by a bunch of kids playing FBI. Later, real cops are taken over by the real FBI in exactly the same fashion.
The Simpsons episode "Marge vs. the Monorail" had Police Chief Wiggum and Mayor Quimby arguing about which of them is in charge of handling the out-of-control monorail situation. In the end, neither of them does anything about the monorail because they're too busy reading the town charter to see who really is in charge of the situation (and getting distracted when Wiggum notices he's entitled to "comely lasses").
Subverted in a later episode, where Sideshow Bob's plan to murder Bart without legal consequences involves the murder takin place in "Five Corners", point where five US states meet, Chief Wiggum arrives to arrest him at the last minute, so Bob steps into another state where the Springfield PD has no jurisdiction, it's then revealed that Wiggum contacted the police of the other four states, and each is waiting in their respective jurisdictions, and amicably work together to bring him in.
When some of the Simpsons needed to be rescued from Niagara Falls, American officers and Canadian officers argued over who had the authority to do the rescuing.
A minor one occurred in an episode of The Fairly OddParents where Timmywished he was the most wanted kid in the world. This prompted the Dimmsdale Police Department at his house, then the FBI helicopters arrived few seconds later. One of the police officers then shouted "Hey, we were here first!"
In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Elementary My Dear Stacy", Perry is forced to work alongside the James Bond-expy/parody agent Double 0-0 because both the OWCA and the British Secret Service claim jurisdiction over stopping Doofenshmirtz while he is on Britisch soil.
Real life example: The Waco Siege in 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) tried to raid a compound, and made a complete mess of things. The FBI steps in, takes over, brings in a friggin tank, and makes an even BIGGER mess of things. The two agencies have been at odds ever since.
Still the situation in 2009. This article details, among other things, the ATF and FBI arguing over who should investigate explosions on a routine basis.
Considering the multiple law enforcement agencies and the occasional shift of control (control of the drug unit is shifted from department X to department Y), this is certainly a reality in the United States. , , , , , , 
Margaret Garner, when cornered by slave catchers, killed her children rather than let slavers take them back with her. This produced a legal discussion as to whether the Federal Fugitive Slave Act trumped mere state murder charges. It did, so she had to flee.
In countries that have a gendarmerie (regular soldiers trained as cops who enforce the law among the civilian population) there is often a rivalry between the gendarmerie and the local police.
Particularly bad in Italy, where there are NINE different police forces. Things are regulated this way:
If it happens in a fire (especially if the fire is the crime), the Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (the firefighters) have jurisdiction.
The Carabinieri (gendarmerie and military police) have jurisdiction if the perpetrator is a member of the armed forces or the crime involves organized crime, terrorism (they have an anti-terrorism branch for this), crimes at sea, drugs or food sophistication, or there's just need for serious firepower (they're part of the armed forces, after all, their standard equipment includes assault rifles and squad automatic weapons, and if things go south they also have larger machine guns and sniper rifles).
The State Police has jurisdiction over crimes involving, highways (there's a special branch for this), railways (another special branch), mails and internet (a third special branch), airways (special branch), organized crime (special branch), drugs (special branch), and preventing any kind of crime (another special branch).
The Guardia di Finanza has jurisdiction on financial, tax, terrorism and drugs-related crimes, doubles as custom guards and military police, and may intervene when there's need of larger firepower than theCarabinierican muster (after all, the Carabinieri don't have grenade launchers and hand grenades, while the Guardia di Finanza does).
The Coast Guard has jurisdiction on crimes at sea, assuming the State Police, the Guardia di Finanza, the Carabinieri or the Italian Navy don't get there first (Italy has a lot of coastlines, and the Coast Guard needs any help they can get).
The State Forestry Department deals with crimes against the environment or happening in national parks and forests.
The Jail Police deals with crimes happening in jails, and escorts convicts whenever they are to get out of the prison before their sentence expires (if they need to go to the hospital or to testify).
Provincial police (almost non-existent) and city police forces deal with minor crimes happening in towns and provinces; minor crimes in general are dealt with by whoever gets there first.
Finally, since 2008, Italian Army soldiers can double as police officers if they happen on a crime or are needed for crowd control, at least until other police forces arrive and take over.
To mitigate the problem, efforts against drugs and organized crime (that are jurisdiction of the Carabinieri and the State Police and tend to involve also the Forestry Department and Guardia di Finanza) are coordinated by the Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga (Central Directorate for Anti-Drugs Services) and the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate) respectively.
Richard Ramirez (also known as the Night Stalker) avoided capture because of exactly this.
In Real Life, in British Policing (at least, say 90% of the time), whether this is any uncertainty whatsoever, the bickering will be over why one's own force shouldn't be responsible for an investigation. This shouldn't be complicated because jurisdiction in Great Britain is very simple — the force which polices the area where the crime happened investigates — but it never works that way in practice. Where there are no cross-border issues, it becomes a question of which squad or team within the individual force gets lumbered with the responsibility — and then it gets ugly.
The exception to this is any incident involving armed forces personnel, because they're subject to military law and are supposed to be handed over to the military police... unless civilians were involved, in which case it gets complicated. For example, the submarine HMS Astute was paying a goodwill visit to the city of Southampton when one of the posted sentries suffered some sort of mental breakdown (as it turned out, he had been on a 48-hour drinking binge and had had over 20 pints of cider and beer, plus other drinks) and opened fire in the control room, killing one officer and wounding another. The perpetrator and his victims were all Royal Navy personnel, but the ship was in a civilian port rather than a Royal Dockyard and when the shooting occurred, several members of the city council were in the compartment whilst being given a tour of the non-classified areas. Figuring out whose jurisdiction that falls under will probably take much longer than the actual trial.
This trope is a fact of life in countries with a federal political system, including Canada and the United States. Different levels of government are continually squabbling over who has jurisdiction in any given sphere, arguing over money and agitating against perceived "unfair" treatment from each other. In some cases, this is deliberately encouraged — one reason the United States chose a federal system dividing power between the federal and state governments was to prevent either one from becoming too much of a threat to individual liberty.
A strange subversion of this exists in the West Bank/Palestinian Territory, as Israeli citizens (regardless of race or religion) fall under Israeli law, while the Palestinians who are not citizens are under martial law, especially in zones B and C. Things are kept so separate that if an Israeli soldier actually witnesses a citizen commit a crime against a Palestinian in the territory, that soldier cannot arrest the citizen but must call the police.
The manhunt for John Dillinger in 1933-1934 was one of the earliest cases of friction between the FBI and local law enforcement. Local officers disparagingly called the FBI agents "college boys". After Dillinger's arranged jailbreaks in the fall of 1933, the Indiana State Police petitioned the FBI for help pursuing him but were rebuffed, leaving the the ISP and Chicago Police Department to track Dillinger down. In November of 1933, they picked up his tail a disagreement over whether to capture Dilinger by himself or with the rest of the gang caused to a dramatic car chase allowing Dillinger to flee. In April of 1934, after Dillinger evaded an FBI raid in St. Paul that included officers from the notoriously corrupt local police, J. Edgar Hoover issued memos forbidding local police from participating in FBI raids. This came back to haunt the FBI later the same month, after they failed to notify local officials of a capture attempt on the Dillinger gang at Little Bohemia.
In the pursuit of another 1930s criminal, Alvin Karpis, both the FBI and the federal postal inspectors claimed jurisdiction, with the postal inspectors one step ahead of the FBI for most of 1935.
Very sadly, "the Wall", a bureacratic device designed, supposedly, the facilitate co-operation between the FBI and the CIA was largely responsible for the failure of US authorities to stop the 9/11 attacks. In (highly simplified) essence, the CIA was massively anal about secrecy, and viewed telling the FBI anything as a security risk, and the FBI was massively anal about chain of evidence, and viewed telling the CIA anything as compromising some future prosecution. Indeed, the FBI didn't even know the hijackers were in America until a few days before the attacks, and even then, this was only because a CIA officer accidentally copied an FBI agent into a round robin email. Thing were tightened up — a lot — post 9/11.
In another US example, inside of Washington, DC, what police department is responsible for a crime depends on location, time of day, the phase of the moon, and the condition of the president's dog. There's the DC police, there's the Secret Service, and eleventy-seven additional layers of government security going on at any given point at any given time. Just remember to keep away from the little red dots.
Applies to the Washington DC metro area as a whole, with Virginia and Maryland surrounding and only a stone's throw away from the District of Columbia. Not to mention numeroous state and federal facility scattered throughout the neighboring counties.