Attorney General: Demetrios Louziotis, Sr., Executive Director, Division of Special Revenue, 1992-009 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

April 7, 1992

Demetrios Louziotis, Sr.

Executive Director, Division of Special Revenue
555 Russell Road
Newington, CT 06111

Dear Mr. Louziotis:

The issue addressed in this opinion is whether Special Revenue Investigators may carry firearms.1 Special Revenue Investigators are employed by the Division of Special Revenue (DOSR) to investigate violations of the state's legalized gambling laws. In addition, they are statutorily granted the powers of State Police to make arrests for criminal offenses2 arising from the operation or conduct of the State's off-track betting and lottery. For the following reasons, we believe that the investigators are authorized to carry firearms in the same manner as State Police while investigating or making arrests for such criminal offenses.

The statutory authorization for Special Revenue Investigators is contained in Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-18c. The statute provides as follows:

Special policemen for division of special revenue. The commissioner of public safety may appoint not more than four persons employed as investigators in the security unit of the division of special revenue, upon the nomination of the executive director of the division of special revenue, to act as special policemen in said unit. Such appointees shall serve at the pleasure of the commissioner of public safety. During such tenure, they shall have all the powers conferred on state policemen while investigating or making arrests for any offense arising from the operation of any off-track betting system or the conduct of any lottery game. Such special policemen shall be certified under the provisions of sections 7-294a to 7-294e, inclusive.

Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-18c (Emphasis added).

This statute, standing alone, does not state whether investigators may carry firearms. However, as we have noted in the past, such absence of language does not bar authorization to carry firearms. See 91 Conn.Op.Atty.Gen. at p. 8 (Letter to T. William Knapp. Municipal Police Training Council, March 9, 1991). The statute does grant investigators "all the powers conferred upon state policemen" in their jurisdiction. Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-18c.

State Police are peace officers. Conn.Gen.Stat. 53a-3(9).3 As such, they are justified in using necessary force, including deadly force involving firearms in some circumstances, in connection with effecting an arrest. Conn.Gen.Stat.  53a-22; Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 12, 16 n. 14, 105 S.Ct. 1694, 85 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985); Martyn v. Donlin, 151 Conn. 402, 411, 198 A.2d 700 (1964). Thus, it is clear that State Police may use firearms in some circumstances in the performance of their duties. Indeed, they are equipped with arms by the Department of Public Safety. Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-6. Also, State Police are authorized to carry pistols or revolvers without a permit under Conn.Gen.Stat.  29-35.4  See 86 Conn.Op.Atty.Gen. 164 (1986). Special Revenue Investigators, too, have the same authority to carry and utilize firearms without a permit "while investigating or making arrests for any offense arising from the operation of any off-track betting system or the conduct of any lottery game" by virtue of the State Police powers granted to them by Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-18c. There is nothing in Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-18c which diminishes their power in this regard. See, e.g., State v. Sober, 166 Conn. 81, 89-92, 347 A.2d 61 (1974) (Special Police with State Police powers treated as State Police). These powers and the permit exemption do not apply when inspectors are off-duty or performing other functions. See 35 Op.AttyGen. 142 (1968). In these other circumstances, inspectors would be required to obtain a permit under Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-35 to legally carry a firearm.

This interpretation is in accord with the available legislative history. In debates on Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-18c, Representative Belden recognized that the investigators would have weapons and argued for a training requirement, stating:

... I think this is a small price to pay to make sure that those people who we do give the power to go out there and make arrests, use weapons, etc., that we insure, by law, very explicitly, that they shall be trained.

24 H.Proc.1984 Sess., Pt. 4 at pp. 1070-1071.

Representative Jaekle, in remarking on the import of the language giving investigators the powers of State Policemen, also supported a training requirement, stating:

But I think what is important is that the language of the file copy indeed would grant these people with all the powers of State Policemen including the power to have firearms.

The fiscal note, it said you could get around this by granting these individuals the power to arrest, as opposed to the same powers of State Policemen, but that is not what the file copy does. This file copy grants these individuals with all the powers of State Policemen, including the power to have firearms. All this Amendment says is have these people have the requisite training.

27 H.Proc.1984 Sess., Pt. 4 at p. 1071.

The bill was adopted with the language granting investigators the powers of State Policemen, and with a provision that they be certified "under the provisions of sections 7-294 to 7-294e, inclusive." 1984 Conn.Pub.Acts No. 84-457. This reference is to the certification programs of the Municipal Police Training Council which, we are informed, include training for Special Revenue Investigators which is similar to the core training given State Police, including training in the use of firearms, and the relevant laws applicable thereto. Continuing education for recertification is also required under these programs.

In light of the above, we believe that Special Revenue Investigators appointed by the Commissioner of Public Safety pursuant to Conn.Gen.Stat.  29-18c are authorized to carry firearms and they are exempted from the weapons permit requirements of Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-35 in the same manner as State Police while investigating or making arrests for any offense arising from the operation of any off-track betting system or the conduct of any lottery game.

Very truly yours,

Richard Blumenthal
Attorney General

Robert F. Vacchelli
Assistant Attorney General


1 We understand your request to involve pistols and revolvers, and our opinion is so limited.

2 Inasmuch as the unlawful possession of a pistol or revolver is a crime, Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-37(b), (c), we have requested that this opinion be reviewed by the Chief State's Attorney, and he concurs in its conclusions.

3 Conn.Gen.Stat. 53a-3(9) provides:

"Peace officer" means a member of the division of state police within the department of public safety or an organized local police department, a chief inspector or inspector in the division of criminal justice, a sheriff, deputy sheriff or special deputy sheriff, a conservation officer or special conservation officer, as defined in section 26-5, a constable who performs criminal law enforcement duties, a special policeman appointed under section 29-18, 29-18a or 29-19, an adult probation officer, appointed under section 54-104, an official of the department of correction authorized by the commissioner of correction to make arrests in a correctional institution or facility, or any investigator in the investigations unit of the office of the state treasurer or any special agent of the federal government authorized to enforce the provisions of title 21 of the United States Code.

4 Conn.Gen.Stat. 29-35 provides:

Carrying of pistol or revolver without permit prohibited. Exceptions. (a) No person shall carry any pistol or revolver upon his person, except when such person is within his dwelling house or place of business, without a permit to carry the same issued as provided in section 29-28. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the carrying of any pistol or revolver by any sheriff, parole officer or peace officer of this state, or sheriff, parole officer or peace officer of any other state while engaged in the pursuit of his official duties, or federal marshal or federal law enforcement agent, or to any member of the armed forces of the United States, as defined by section 27-103, or of this state, as defined by section 27-2, when on duty or going to or from duty, or to any member of any military organization when on parade or when going to or from any place of assembly, or to the transportation of pistols or revolvers as merchandise, or to any person carrying any pistol or revolver while contained in the package in which it was originally wrapped at the time of sale and while carrying the same from the place of sale to the purchaser's residence or place of business, or to any person removing his household goods or effects from one place to another, or to any person while carrying any such pistol or revolver from his place of residence or business to a place or person where or by whom such pistol or revolver is to be repaired or while returning to his place of residence or business after the same has been repaired, or to any person carrying a pistol or revolver in or through the state for the purpose of taking part in competitions or attending any meeting or exhibition of an organized collectors' group if such person is a bona fide resident of the United States having a permit or license to carry any firearm issued by the authority of any other state or subdivision of the United States, or to any person carrying a pistol or revolver to and from a testing range at the request of the issuing authority, or to any person carrying an antique pistol or revolver, as defined in section 29-33.

(b) The holder of a permit issued pursuant to section 29-28 shall carry such permit on his person while carrying such pistol or revolver.

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