Attorney General: Mr. T. William Knapp, Municipal Police Training Council, 1991-011 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

March 9, 1991

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

Dear Mr. Knapp:

You have requested an opinion of the Attorney General regarding an inquiry from Wesleyan University Office of Public Safety which reads as follows:

The Wesleyan Office of Public Safety consists of 22 patrol, 5 supervisors, and 2 administrative people who are actively involved in the patrol of the campus. Currently 27 of these individuals are sworn Special Constables under section 7-92 of the Connecticut General Statutes. The duties of the patrol and supervisory personnel entail a variety of services, traditional security and some law enforcement activities on university owned property. Our law enforcement duties entail an average of 20 arrests per year for trespass in various degrees. We have on occasions been the first responder to burglaries and other more serious offenses. These are infrequent but result in an arrest by our Public Safety Officers.

You also make reference to a 1984 interpretation of training requirements by the then Executive Director of the council in which it was determined that Wesleyan Public Safety Officers were "limited duty officers" not required to receive basic police officer training because such personnel: (1) did not carry firearms; (2) did not participate in arrest situations where a felony charge is involved; and (3) were employees of and compensated by Wesleyan University and not the City of Middletown

Your letter continues:

The Municipal Police Training Council is concerned with the accuracy of that 1984 determination. The council is concerned that persons with the statutory authority to make custodial arrests for the commission of crime, and the use of force to do so (presumably also deadly force), pursuant to Connecticut General Statute 7-92 are not formally trained and certified as police officers as appears to be the express requirement of Section 294a. Recognizing that a change in position may impose significant training requirements on persons and organization, the Council seeks the formal opinion of the Attorney General on the following question:

Does the municipal Police Training Council have authority to require basic police officer training for those persons appointed special constables pursuant to Connecticut General Statute 7-92?

Although your question was originally directed to the Attorney General and is couched strictly in terms of the authority of the Municipal Police Training council, the analysis of relevant statutes in order to provide you with an answer necessarily implicates not only the civil authority of the Council but the criminal authority to make arrests and, ultimately, to prosecute those arrested for the commission of crime. Therefore, we have determined to respond jointly under the Attorney General's authority in Conn.. Gen. Stat. 3-125 and the Chief State's Attorney's authority in Conn. Gen.. Stat. 51-279. For the reasons which follow, our answer tot he question posed is in the affirmative. The Municipal Police Training council may require persons who retain and exercise the powers of a special constable to undertake and successfully complete basic police officer training.

Constables attain office, in accordance with the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-185 or 7-92, through appointment by a municipality's "chief executive officer" or through election, under Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-200, in a town's "regular municipal election." Constables appointed pursuant to the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-185 and constables elected pursuant tot he provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-200 are subject tot he provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-89:

Sec. 7-89. service of process. Liability. constables shall have the same power in their towns to serve and execute all lawful process legally directed to them as sheriffs have in their respective counties and shall be liable in the same manner for any neglect or unfaithfulness in their office.

Special constables appointed pursuant to provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-92 have the authority of constables of such town to serve criminal process and make arrests for commission of crime.

Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-92 provides as follows:

Sec. 7-92. Special constables. The chief executive officer of any municipality may appoint such number of special constables as he deems necessary to preserve the public peace within such municipality, who may serve for terms of not more than two years or during any public celebration or gathering or any riot or unusual excitement, and such special officers shall have the authority of constables of such town to serve criminal process and make arrests for commission of crime. The chief executive officer may appoint special constables: (1) With limited geographical jurisdiction; or (2) who are appointed at the request of corporations or businesses and who shall: (A) Have jurisdiction only on land controlled by such corporation, association or business; (B) be deemed for all purposes to be agents and employees of such corporation, association or business; and (C) be paid for their services by such corporation, association or business. (Emphasis added)

Our offices have previously advised the Commissioner of Public Safety with respect to the police authority of constables as follows:

1. Constables, including elected constables of towns which have adopted an appropriate ordinance, have authority to arrest, without a warrant, persons in the town where they are employed for both felonies and misdemeanors when the person is apprehended in the act or on t he speedy information of others.

2. Constables are not authorized to make warrant less arrest outside of their town of employment. They may make such arrests in their own jurisdiction for offenses committed outside their jurisdiction provided they have speedy information that the suspect has committed such offense. Thus, when a constable learns from other law enforcement officers of probable cause to believe that a person located within the constable's jurisdiction, and that information has been speedily received, the constable may make a warrant less arrest.

3. Constables have no authority to arrest, without a warrant, any person for any crime except when apprehended in the act or upon the speedy information of others.

4. Constables have authority, within their respective towns of employment, to execute arrest warrants.

5. Constables have the authority to execute an arrest warrant anywhere in Connecticut provided that the crime named in the warrant was committed in the town of employment.

6. However, constables do not have the authority to execute search warrants.

7. Members of the Division of State Police may dispatch a constable who performs criminal law enforcement duties to towns other than the constable's town of employment to assist other peach officers who may be confronting riotous or violent circumstances.

8. Constables may not engage in fresh pursuit.1

9. Constables may transport an arrested person to the nearest available barracks even if located out of their town. In order to take custody of an confine persons arrested by constables, members of the Division of State Police must determine that the facts of the situation warrant such arrest and confinement in the same manner or to the same extent as would be done had the arrest been made by a State Police Officer.

10. Provided general control and direction is exercised on each occasion when such power is utilized, the Commissioner of Public Safety may, in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-10, appoint special police officers who when so appointed have the powers conferred upon state policemen.

84 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. 146 (Opinion dated April 5, 1984 to Honorable Colonel Lester J. Forst, Commissioner of Public Safety by Joseph I. Lieberman, Attorney General and Austin J. McGuigan, Chief State's Attorney). (Copy Attached).

"(A) constable who performs criminal law enforcement duties" is a "peace officer." Conn.. Gen. Stat. 53a-3(9). As "peace officers" in their precinct, special constables "shall arrest, without previous complaint and warrant, any person for any offense in their jurisdiction, when the person is taken or apprehended in the act or on the speedy information of others ... " Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-1f(a).

A "constable ... certified under the provisions of (Conn. Gen. Stat.) sections 7-294a to 7-294e, inclusive, ... who perform(s) criminal law enforcement duties, when in the immediate pursuit of one who may be arrested under the provisions of (Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-1f)," is authorized "to pursue the offender outside of (his) ... precinct into any part of the state in order to effect the arrest." Conn. Gen. Stat. 541f(c). A "peace officer" is justified in using physical force, even deadly physical force, to effect an arrest or prevent an escape from custody in specifically delineated circumstances. Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-22.

Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-294a provides as follows:

Sec. 7-294a. Municipal police training council. Definitions. As used in sections 7-294a to 7-294e, inclusive, "academy" means the Connecticut police academy; "applicant" mans a prospective police officer who has not commenced employment or service with a law enforcement unit; "basic training" means the minimum basic law enforcement training received by a police officer a the academy or at any other certified law enforcement training academy; "certification" means the issuance by the municipal police training council to a police officer, police training school or to a law enforcement instructor of a signed instrument evidencing satisfaction for the certification requirements imposed by section 7-294d and signed by the council; "council" means the municipal police training council; "governor" includes any person performing the functions of the governor by authority of the law of this state; "review training" means training received after minimum basic law enforcement training; "law enforcement unit" means any agency, organ or department of this state or a subdivision or municipality thereof, whose primary functions include the enforcement of criminal or traffic laws, the preservation of public order, the protection of life and property, other prevention, detection or investigation of crime; "police officer" means a sworn member of an organized local police department, an appointed constable who performs criminal law enforcement duties, a special policeman appointed under section 29-18, 29-18a or 29-19 or any member of a law enforcement unit who performs police duties; "probationary candidate" means a police officer who, having satisfied pre employment requirements, has commenced employment with a law enforcement unit but who has not satisfied the training requirements provided for in section 7-294d; "school" means any school, college, university, academy or training program approved by the council which offers law enforcement training and includes a combination of a course curriculum, instructors and facilities. (Emphasis added).

Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-294d provides, in part, as follows:

Sec. 7-294d. Powers of council. Certification of police officers, police training schools and law enforcement instructors. Refusal to renew, cancellation or revocation of certification. Automatic certification. Exemptions. (a) The municipal police training council shall have the following powers:

* * * *

(5) To require that all probationary candidates receive a minimum of four hundred eight hours of basic training before being eligible for certification, such basic training to be completed within one year following the appointment as a probationary candidate, unless he candidate is granted additional time to complete his training by the council. (Emphasis added).

The distinctions described to us for the 1984 determination that special constables did not require basic training; the restrictions on the use of firearms and the type of arrests and the circumstance of private, as opposed to public, employment; do not appear to us determinative or even relevant to the question whether special constables are subject to basic police training and the certification procedures administered by the Council. A "'police officer' means ... an appointed constable who performs criminal law enforcement duties...." Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-294a.

The Wesleyan public safety officers are "special officers [who] have the authority of constables of [the City of Middletown] to serve criminal process and make arrests for commission of crime," Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-92, and who, in fact, make arrests for the commission of crime under such authority.

Under our statutes, a peace officer may carry a firearm without any special licensing. Conn. Gen. Stat. 29-28, 29-35. The authority or requirement for a police officer to carry firearms, however, does not come directly from state statutes; it comes from the law enforcement unit which employs the officer. Firearms training is, of course, included in police officer training. But, it is not the firearm that defines the officer or determines whether such officer requires police training. Rather, it is the appointment of such person to a position which authorizes that person to enforce the criminal laws of the State of Connecticut and to make arrests for the commission of crime which riggers the requirement for police training.

Similarly, distinctions between or among the types or levels of crime with which he officer may generally be involved is equally irrelevant in determining whether police training is required. It is difficult to see how a general law enforcement unit as described by Wesleyan, with special officers appointed by the mayor of the City of Middletown to make arrests for the commission of crime on the grounds of Wesleyan University, could necessarily avoid involvement in felony arrests. In any event, the Wesleyan University, Department of Public Safety now relates that its officers in fact are first responders to burglaries2 and other serious crimes.

Further, misdemeanor arrestees are entitled to the same constitutional protections as felony arrestees. The general public, including the university students, faculty and staff, on the grounds of Wesleyan University, may legitimately expect that Wesleyan security officers, with the power of arrest have the same or similar level of basic police training as their counterparts in the Middletown Police Department. You have advised that the Council's definition of "Limited Duty Officer" is one who is not authorized to carry a firearm and is not authorized to make a custodial arrest. We can find no distinction in the statutes between the terms "arrest" and "custodial arrest," and conclude that the statutory authority to make an arrest for the commission of crime impliedly includes the authority to make a custodial arrest, that is, take the arrestee into custody. It would be incongruous to have an officer given the power of arrest by the Mayor of Middletown but then be generally limited with no power of arrest by his or her employer.

The arrest of a citizen for the commission of crime is fraught with potential for both legal and physical danger. Compliance with established laws, as described under both federal and state constitutions, our statutes and state and federal court decisions, is essential to ensure both the freedom of the innocent and the conviction of the guilty. The authority to make arrests carries with it, as you note, the power and authority to use physical, including deadly physical force, to effect the arrest. Proper search, custodial arrest and detention procedures are necessary to ensure the physical safety and security of both the arrestee and the arresting officer. Officers and their employers and insurers may legitimately wish to avoid potential liability for false arrest, sue of excessive force, unreasonable searches and seizures and employment related injuries to arresting officer(s). Experience alone would indicate the folly of attempting to execute these difficult tasks without the requisite training to do so properly.

Lastly, the employment or compensation arrangement is also irrelevant to the determination of whether such officers should have basic police training. It is not that such officers are employed by Wesleyan University rather than the City of Middletown, it is that they are appointed by the Mayor of Middletown pursuant to statute for the express purpose of preserving the public peace, serving criminal process and making arrests for the commission of crime on land controlled by Wesleyan University, a private corporation within the confines of the City of Middletown. Whether such officers are compensation for their activity and by whom, is not a consideration.

Our statutes provide the only relevant criteria. A person who is to be employed for the purpose of, and with the requisite authority to, make arrests for the commission of crime, i.e., a police officer, must be properly trained and certified as a person who is to be employed for the purpose of, and with the requisite authority to, make arrests for the commission of crime, i.e., a police officer, must be properly trained and certified as a person capable of accomplishing such tasks. A special constable appointed pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-92, and, thus, with requisite authority to make arrests, is a police officer as defined in Conn. Gen.,. Stat. 7-294a and subject to the basic police training requirement under Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-294d (5) and all other police training requirement imposed by law.

In reaching this conclusion, e are bound by the same criteria as that which would be applied by the courts.

"We have consistently held that if a statute is clear and unambiguous there is no room for construction." Murray v. Lopes, 205 Conn. 27, 33, 529 A.2d 1302 (1987) . . . Kilpatrick v. Board of Education , 206 Conn. 25, 28, 535 A.2d 1311 (1988); State v. James, 197 Conn. 358, 363, 497 A.2d 402 (1985); State v. Smith, 194 Conn. 213, 221, 479 A.2d 814 (1984); Lerman v. Levine, 14 Conn.. App. 402, 409, 541 A.2d 523 (1988); 2A J. Sutherland, Statutory Construction (4th Ed. Sands 19984) 46.01. 46.04. When the statutory language is clear and unambiguous, it is from that source that we deduce the intent of the legislature. Commissioner v. Freedom of Information Commission, 204 Conn. 609, 620, 529 A.3d 692 (1987); Rhodes v. Hartford, 201 Conn. 89, 93, 513 A.2d 124 (1986); Johnson v. Manson, 196 Conn. 309, 316, 493 A.2d 846 (1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1063, 106 S.Ct. 1290, 89 L.Ed.2d 597 (1986); 2A J. Sutherland, supra , 48.01. In analyzing the plain language, the terms must be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning unless their context dictates otherwise. State v. Bruney, 189 Conn. 321, 326,l 455 A.2d 1335 (1983); Kilpatrick v. Board of Education, supra; 2A J. Sutherland, supra, 46.01.

Nichols v. Warren, 209 Conn. 191, 196 (1988).

We see no ambiguity in the statutes and, thus, no room for construction. The Council has authority, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-294d (a)(5) to require those persons appointed Special Constables pursuant to the authority of Conn. Gen. Stat. 7-92 and employed to serve criminal process and make arrests for the commission of crime to complete basic police officer training and to maintain certification as a police officer in order to remain employed in such a capacity.

Sincerely yours,

 

JOHN J. KELLY                               RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
CHIEF STATE'S ATTORNEY               ATTORNEY GENERAL

 

                                                   L. D. McCallum
                                                   Assistant Attorney General

JJK/RB/LDM
Encl.


1 But see Conn. Gen. Stat. 54-1f(c) as amended by P.A. 84-302 allowing fresh pursuit by a "constable certified under the provisions of sections 7-294e ... who perform(s) criminal law enforcement duties."

2 The three degrees of the crime of burglary in this state are all felonies. Burglary in the first degree is a Class B felony, Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-101. burglary in the second degree is a Class C felony. Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-102. Burglary in the third degree is a Class D felony. Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-103.


Back to the 1991 Opinions Page
Back to Opinions Page 



Content Last Modified on 6/9/2005 1:10:26 PM