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AGO 1953 No. 20 - April 28, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

ELIGIBILITY OF STATE PATROL PERSONNEL TO TAKE PROMOTIONAL EXAMINATIONS.

 1. Patrol personnel with the experience required by statute, but whose service is not consecutive, are entitled to take examinations for promotion.

 2. Temporary or permanent staff and technical officers are not eligible for examination for promotion.

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                                                                   April 28, 1953

Honorable James A. Pryde
Chief
Washington State Patrol
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 20

 Dear Sir:

             In your request of April 23, 1953, for an opinion as to the eligibility of state patrol personnel to take promotional examinations, you have asked the following questions:

             1. Are patrol personnel with the experience required by statute, but whose service is not consecutive, entitled to take an examination for promotion?

             2. Are temporary or permanent staff and technical officers eligible for examination for promotion?

             The answer to your first question is "Yes."

             The answer to your second question is "No."

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             In answer to your first question, the section of the code with which we are concerned is RCW 43.43.350 set out as follows:

             "Eligibility for examination or promotion shall be determined as follows:

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "Patrol officers with one year of probationary experience, in addition to three years experience as a regular patrolman, shall be eligible for examination for the rank of sergeant; patrol officers with one year of probationary experience in the rank of sergeant, in addition to two years as a regular sergeant, shall be eligible for examination for the rank of lieutenant; patrol officers with one year of probationary experience in the rank of lieutenant, in addition to two years as a regular lieutenant, shall be eligible for examination for the rank of captain."  (Emphasis supplied)

             It is to be noted that this section does not in any way limit the examination for promotion to anyone if he meets the requirements set out.  There is no requirement for consecutive service.  Thus, one who has broken service may still be eligible for examination for promotion so long as his service in a required grade satisfies the statutory requirements.  There are no supplemental sections of the code limiting or broadening this section.

             The section of the code with which we are concerned in answering your second question is RCW 43.43.370, which reads:

             "The chief of the Washington state patrol may appoint such staff or technical officers as he deems necessary for the efficient operation of the patrol,and he may assign whatever rank he deems necessary to such staff or technical officers for the duration of their service as such.

             "Staff or technical officers may be returned to their line rank or position whenever the chief so desires.  Staff or technical officers without line command assignment and whose duties are of a special or technical nature shall hold their staff or technical rank on a continuing probationary basis; however, such staff or technical officers, if otherwise eligible, shall not be prevented from taking the line promotion examinations, and qualifying for promotion whenever the examinations may be held.

             "If a staff or technical officer returns to line operations he shall return in the rank that he holds in the line command, unless promoted to a higher rank  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] through examination and appointment as herein provided:  Provided, Nothing contained herein shall be construed as giving the chief the right to demote or to reduce the rank of any officer of the patrol who was holding such office on April 1, 1949."  (Emphasis supplied)

             Under this section staff or technical officers are to be considered as on a continuing probationary basis.  RCW 43.43.350 of the code above quoted requires certain service as a probationary officer and certain service as a regular patrolman, sergeant or lieutenant, whichever the case may be.  The section with which we are dealing puts all of the officers on a probationary basis.  Since a probationary officer cannot meet the requirements as he has no service as a regular officer, he would not be eligible for examination for promotion unless by reason of his service otherwise he may be eligible.

             The last sentence of the above section prevents certain of these officers from being demoted.  In our opinion this does not have the opposite effect of making them eligible for examination for promotion, unless otherwise qualified.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

CYRUS A. DIMMICK
Assistant Attorney General

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