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AGO 1954 No. 245 - April 21, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

CITIES AND TOWNS ‑- 3RD CLASS CITIES ‑- COUNCIL-MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT ‑- CIVIL SERVICE ‑- APPOINTMENT OF POLICE CHIEF.

1. City manager appoints the police chief under a council-manager form of government.

2. City manager appoints police chief subject to statutory procedure set forth in RCW 41.12.010 et seq.

3. Eligible appointee not restricted by present police force or outsiders but subject to eligible list submitted by civil service commission.

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                                                                   April 21, 1954

Honorable Gordon Sandison
State Representative
Port Angeles, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 245

Dear Sir:

            You have requested the opinion of this office on the following specific questions:

            1. Who appoints the chief of police under the city manager plan, the civil service commission or the city manager?

            2. When the City of Port Angeles operates under the city manager plan of government, what is the procedure to appoint a successor to a retiring chief of police under civil service?

            3. Who are the eligible appointees for the chief of police, members of the present police force or outsiders?

            In our opinion, the city manager should appoint the chief of police, following the procedure outlined in RCW 41.12.010, et seq., from an eligible personnel list established by the civil service commission of the City of Port Angeles.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            In September, 1937, the City of Port Angeles adopted Ordinance No. 1040 relating to civil service.  The ordinance incorporated by reference chapter 13, Laws of 1937, relating to civil service in the police department.  Such laws have been codified in RCW 41.12.010 et seq.  In 1952 the City of Port Angeles, by special election, adopted the council-manager form of government.  RCW 35.18.060 provides as follows:

            "The powers and duties of the city manager shall be:

            "* * *

            "(2) To appoint and remove at any time all department heads, officers, and employees of the city or town, except members of the council, and subject to the provisions of any applicable law, rule, or regulation relating to civil service: * * *"

            The power of the city manager to appoint department heads is provided by RCW 35.18.090.  RCW 35.18.100 pertains to the city manager's power to appoint subordinates.

            RCW 41.12.030 indicates that the members of the civil service commission are appointed by the same person who has authority to select, appoint, or employ the chief of the police department in such city.  All positions coming within the purview of the civil service statutes are filled by the appointing power.  See RCW 41.12.110.  The term "appointing power" referred to in civil service statutes is defined in RCW 41.12.220 as follows:

            "'Appointing power' includes every person or group of persons who, acting singly or in conjunction, as a mayor, city manager, council commission, or otherwise, is or are invested by law with power and authority to select, appoint, or employ any person to any office, place, position, or employment subject to civil service."  (Emphasis supplied)

            There are no inconsistent provisions in the foregoing statutes.  The city manager  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] should appoint the chief of police under the council-manager form of government, subject to the laws relating to civil service.

            A city adopting a council-manager form of government may adopt any system of civil service which would be available to it under any other form of city government.  See RCW 35.18.030.  The City of Port Angeles, by changing from the commission form of government to council-manager type, retained its former civil service laws.  Therefore, the procedure to appoint a successor to a retiring chief of police under the civil service is adequately outlined in RCW 41.12.040, RCW 41.12.050, 41.12.070 and 41.12.100.

            Under the ordinance of the City of Port Angeles and the statutes referred to herein, the civil service commission should receive applications and provide for, formulate, and hold competitive tests to determine the relative qualifications of persons who seek employment in any class or position.  As a result of the tests, it should establish eligible lists for various classes of positions.  When a vacant position is to be filled, the commission is to certify to the appointing authority, on written request, the name of the person highest on the eligible list for the position.  If there is not a present list, then a temporary appointment list should be submitted for the position.  The ordinance and statutes pertaining to civil service and the council-manager form of government do not limit the application for chief of police to members of the present police force, or prohibit applications by persons not members of the force.  In fact, the statutory provisions pertaining to appointees of the city manager and applicants for civil service are very broad and general.  See RCW 35.18.100.

            It is our opinion, therefore, that the city manager should appoint the chief of police following the procedure outlined in RCW 41.12.010 et seq., from an eligible personnel list prepared by the civil service commission of the City of Port Angeles.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

LLOYD G. BAKER
Assistant Attorney General

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