Attorney General: Mr. T. William Knapp, Municipal Police Training Council, 1990-038 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

December 2, 1990

Mr. T. William Knapp
Executive Director
Municipal Police Training Council
285 Preston Avenue
Meriden, CT 06450-4891

Dear Mr. Knapp:

In your letter of June 19, 1990, you refer us to 1990 Conn Pub. Acts, 90-120 e2 and seek our interpretation of the meaning of the phrase "police officers who have managerial duties."

1990 Conn. Pub. Acts, 90-120, e 2 provides as follows:

Sec. 2. (NEW) (1) The municipal police training council established under section 7-294 of the general statutes, in conjunction with the office of the chief state's attorney and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association and (2) the division of state police within the department of public safety, in conjunction with the office of the chief state's attorney, shall provide a minimum of four hours of instruction on the subject of new legal developments which impact on police policies and practices concerning the investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal matters, in two sessions each year to police officers who have managerial duties. Each such police officer shall be required to take such course of instruction in addition to the certified review training required by subsection (a) of section 7-294d of the general statutes.

(Emphasis added).

In meeting with you and members of your staff, you indicate uncertainty and the potential for ambiguity because of remarks made on the floor of the House of Representatives during debate on passage of the bill. You relate that it is your understanding that the training is intended for those police officers, without regard to rank in their respective police departments, who have responsibilities for developing and carrying out police policies and procedures. However, Representative Joseph S. Raia, D-23rd, the proponent of the bill, in remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives, indicated that the instruction is intended for police officers with the rank of lieutenant or above. Your concern is heightened by the recognition that Rep. Raia is also a police officer in the City of New Britain, Connecticut and, thus, his remarks may carry additional significance.

33 Conn. H. R. Proc., 1990 Sess., pp. 6198 through 6218 (May 1, 1990) records the following excerpted remarks:

REP. RAIA: (23rd)

This instruction shall be offered in two sessions each year to the State and local police officers who have managerial duties

. . . .

Each officer has to go for 40 hours (of review training) every three years. The managerial officers, that's lieutenants or above, will be included 4 hours of the new and existing laws that will cover and I will read it for you.

(This instruction) would only be for persons who are lieutenants or above. When you get to the rank of lieutenant, you're usually not on the street anymore, you're just an overseer as a manager, and you're supervising your men . . . ."

(Emphasis added)

In contrast, in the Senate, the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, in moving adoption, remarked: "The second proposal requires a biennial training session for state and local policemen to update police managers on the rapidly changing laws, governing investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal matters." (Emphasis added)

33 Conn. S. Proc., pt 5, 1990 Sess. 1411 - 1413 (April 26, 1990) (Remarks of Senator Herbst).

While it is true that statements made on the floor of a lawmaking body are a strong indication of legislative intent, Manchester Sand & Gravel Co. v. South Windsor, 203 Conn. 267, 524 A.2d 621 (1987), Representative Raia's remarks must be deemed exemplary rather than definitive. It should also be recognized that "legislative discussions may only be expressive of the views and motives of individual members and may not be a safe guide to views of the law-making body." Robinson v. Unemployment Security Board of Review, 181 Conn. 1, 9, 434 A.2d 293 (1980) and that "words do not become ambiguous simply because lawyers or laymen contend for different meanings." Weingarten v. Allstate Ins. Co., 169 Conn. 502, 508, 363 A.2d 1055 (1975). "If there is no ambiguity in the language of the statute, it does not become ambiguous merely because the parties contend for different meanings." Harris Data Communications, Inc. v. Heffernan, 183 Conn. 194, 198, 438 A.2d 1178 (1981); Caldor, Inc. v. Heffernan, 183 Conn. 566, 571, 440 A.2d 767 (1981). "Honest disagreement about the interpretation of a statutory provision does not . . . make the statute ambiguous or vague." State v. Mattioli, 210 Conn. 573, 579, 556 A.2d 584 (1989). In any event, it is not necessary to refer to legislative history in order to determine the intent of the General Assembly in passing 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts, 90-120.

To determine the intent of the legislature, we first consider whether the statutory language

yields a plain and unambiguous resolution. (citations omitted). If the words are clear and unambiguous, it is assumed that they express the intention of the legislature and we need inquire no further. (citations omitted). The words of a statute must be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning unless their context dictates otherwise. If the language is ambiguous, the ambiguity is normally resolved by turning for guidance to the legislative history and the purpose the statute is to serve.

(Citations omitted); State v. Mattioli, 210 Conn. 573, 576, 556 A.2d 584 (1989)

Put another way, in construing a statute, the first and foremost indication of intent is the language used.

Courts (and this office) cannot, by construction, read into statutes provisions which are not clearly stated. Robinson v. Guman 163 Conn. 439, 444, 311 A.2d 57 (1972); United Aircraft Corporation v. Fusari, 163 Conn. 401, 415, 311 A.2d 65 (1972). It is not for us to search out some intent which we may believe the legislature actually had and give effect to it, but we are confined to the intention which is expressed in the words it has used. Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Walsh, 134 Conn. 295, 301 57 A.2d 128 (1948).

It is a cardinal rule of construction that statutes are to be construed so that they carry out the intent of the legislature. This intent is to be ascertained from the language of the statue itself, if the language is plain and unambiguous. Hurlburt v. Lemelin, 155 Conn. 68, 73, 230 A.2d 36 (1967); Landry v. Personnel Appeal Board, 138 Conn. 445, 447, 86 A.2d 70 (1952). Where the legislative intent is clear there is no room for statutory construction. Little v. Ives, 158 Conn. 452, 455, 262 A.2d 174 (1969); State ex rel. Cooley v. Kegley, 143 Conn. 679, 683, 124 A.2d 898 (1956); State ex rel. Rourke v. Barbieri, 139 Conn. 203, 207, 91 A.2d 773 (1952). Hartford Hospital v. Hartford, 160 Conn. 370, 375, 279 A.2d 561 (1971). "We must construe the act as we find it, without reference to whether we think it would have been or could be improved by the inclusion of other provisions." Murphy v. Way, 107 Conn. 633, 639, 141 A. 858 (1928); State v. Nelson, 126 Conn. 412, 416, 11 A.2d 856 (1940); Houston v. Warden, 169 Conn. 247, 251-52.

Johnson v. Manson, 196 Conn. 309, 493 A.2d 846 (1985).

Thus, we first turn to the term contained in the statute itself, "police officers with managerial duties."

Conn. Gen. Stat.  1-1(a) provides: "In the construction of statutes, words and phrases shall be construed according to the commonly approved usage of the language; and technical words and phrases, such as have acquired a peculiar and appropriate meaning in the law, shall be construed and understood accordingly."

Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged) defines "manage," as follows: manage v: to direct or carry on business or affairs: supervise, administer.

You have advised us that police organizations in Connecticut are disparate, some large and complex, some small and relatively simple in their organization. You have further advised that, in some police departments, an officer with the rank of "corporal" or "sergeant," i.e., lower in nominal rank than a "lieutenant," may have significant management duties while, in others, a "lieutenant" may have virtually no management responsibilities.

In passing, we note that definition of the term "lieutenant," in the context of a police department, does not necessarily include any connotation that a person holding such a rank is a manager.

lieutenant n : a fire or police department officer ranking below a captain.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged) 1306.

Additionally, we have found no reference in our statutes or reported cases from which to conclude that, as a matter of law, police managers are necessarily ranked at lieutenant or above.

However, we do note that the General Assembly, in the same session, passed an act regarding police personnel specifically rank-based. See 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts, 90-57.1 By using different language, i.e., a rank-based distinction in 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts, 90-57 and non-rank-based classification of police officers in 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts, 90-120, we may presume that the General Assembly intended a different result. Put another way, if the General Assembly had intended the contemplated training in new legal developments to be directed only to police officers with the rank of lieutenant and above, it would have said so. Downer v. Liquor Control Commission, 134 Conn. 555, 560, 59 A.2d 290 (1948).

Moreover, as a practical matter, to draw the line of demarcation for the purpose of the contemplated training at the rank of lieutenant would be underinclusive in some departments, leaving out those officers nominally ranked below lieutenant but with important managerial obligations; and overinclusive in others, including lieutenants who may have no managerial duties. Such a construction would appear not to meet the intent of the legislation in the one case, and would be misdirected, at best, in the other. Absent clear language in the act itself, we cannot say that rank in the police department is the essential determinant in establishing who should receive the training required by 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts, 90-120.

We find the phrase "police officers who have managerial duties," according to "commonly approved usage of the language," Conn. Gen. Stat.  1-1(a), to mean, police officers who direct or supervise other officers or administer programs within police departments, regardless of their nominal rank.

This result, of course, may make it somewhat more difficult to determine, with precision, who is required to take the training in

new legal developments. Each separate police organization should denominate those officers it deems as having managerial duties for the purpose of this training and proceed accordingly.2

Very truly yours,

CLARINE NARDI RIDDLE
ATTORNEY GENERAL

L. D. McCallum
Assistant Attorney General

CNR/LDMc


1 1900 Conn. Pub. Acts, 90-57

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1-24 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The following officers may administer oaths:

(13) the commissioner of public safety and the chief, acting chief, superintendent of police, major, captain, lieutenant, [and] sergeant AND CORPORAL of any local police department or the division of state police within the department of public safety, in all affidavits, statements, depositions, complaints, or reports made to or by any member of any local police department or said division of state police or any constable who is under the supervision of said commissioner or any of such officers of said division of state police and who is certified under the provisions of sections 7-294a to 7-294e, inclusive, and performs criminal law enforcement duties;

2 This advice to you is solely for the purpose of determining who should participate in the training requirement of 1990 Conn. Pub. Acts, 90-120. It should not be applied out of context to any other employer-employee or labor-management relationship within police organizations.


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