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AGO 1953 No. 461 - January 14, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


 Local civilian defense organizations may require compliance by civilians during practice alerts ordered by such organizations.

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                                                                 January 14, 1953 

Honorable D. E. Barbey
Department of Civil Defense
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 461

 Dear Sir:

             The question of the authority of local civil defense organizations to require compliance by civilians during practice alerts under "Washington Civil Defense Act of 1951" (chapter 178, Laws of 1951) is posed by your letter of January 2, 1953.

             You request an opinion whether the Civil Defense Act authorizes local organizations for civil defense to require the compliance of civilians during practice alerts ordered by such local organizations or by the state director of civil defense.

             It is our conclusion that your inquiry should be answered in the affirmative, when the Governor has issued an appropriate rule or regulation on the subject.


             As expressed in Section 2 of the Civil Defense Act of 1951 (chapter 178, Laws of 1951) the purpose of the act and the policy of the state is to coordinate the civil defense functions of the state and of the political subdivisions to the maximum extent.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Under the act the governor, through the director, has general supervision and control of the civil defense agency and in the event of disaster beyond local control, may assume direct operational control over all or any part of the civil defense functions within this state.  In performing his duties under the act the governor is further authorized and empowered:

             "(a) To make, amend, and rescind the necessary orders, rules, and regulations to carry out the provisions of this act within the limits of the authority conferred upon him herein, * * *" (§ 6, ch. 178, Laws of 1951)

             Section 18, subsection (1) of chapter 178, Laws of 1951, provides:

             "It shall be the duty of every organization for civil defense established pursuant to this act and of the officers thereof to execute and enforce such orders, rules, and regulations as may be made by the governor under authority of this act.  Each such organization shall have available for inspection at its office all orders, rules, and regulations made by the governor, or under his authority."

             Every violation of any rule, regulation or order issued under the authority of the Civil Defense Act "shall constitute a misdemeanor and shall be punishable as such:  Provided That whenever any person shall commit a second offense hereunder the same shall constitute a gross misdemeanor and shall be punishable as such."  Section 18, subsection (2), chapter 178, Laws of 1951.

             The governor is authorized and empowered by the legislature to make, amend and rescind the necessary orders, rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the Civil Defense Act, the pertinent language of which is quoted and/or paraphrased above.  In accordance with the plan for the civil defense of this state the governor is vested with the authority to institute programs and to take all other preparatory steps prior to occurrence of the emergency or disaster to provide trained and equipped forces to cope with the situation in time of need.  The governor is authorized and directed to cooperate with federal agencies and with agencies of other states in matters pertaining to the civil defense of the state and nation, including the direction or control of tests and exercises prior to happening of emergency to the end that the state may not be unprepared to meet disasters resulting from enemy attack or from storm or other natural  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] causes.  To aid in that program the creation of local organizations for civil defense is authorized upon which organizations is imposed the duty of executing and enforcing the rules, orders and regulations promulgated by the governor pursuant to the Civil Defense Act.

            The governor, may under the Civil Defense Act, delegate any administrative authority vested in him under the act.

             We are, therefore, of the opinion that when the governor, in the exercise of the power granted him under the act, has issued an order or regulation on the subject the local civil defense organizations may carry out and enforce such order or regulation.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General

Chief AssistantAttorney General

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