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AGO 1952 No. 230 - January 28, 1952
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CIVIL DEFENSE ‑- PERSONNEL ‑- DUTY OF COUNTY OFFICES TO SUPPLY.

It is not mandatory for a county office to supply personnel for civil defense.  A county official or employee participating in civil defense beyond the scope of the regular and normal duties of his office or position may, at will, terminate such additional participation in civil defense.

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                                                                 January 28, 1952

Honorable Wally Carmichael
State Representative
P.O. Box 736
Everett, Washington                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 230

Dear Sir:

            By letter of January 18, 1952, you request our opinion on the following:

            "Is it mandatory for any county office to supply personnel, for civil defense, upon the request of the county coordinator?  If so, does the county office or the civil defense pay his salary?  Can the county director specify any certain person when making his request?  Does the request go through the county board of commissioners, or directly to the elected official who is employing the personnel?  Can a county official or employee resign from civil defense, or quit even if the board refuses his resignation?"

            It is our conclusion that:

            It is not mandatory for a county office to supply personnel for civil defense.  A county official or employee participating in civil defense beyond the scope of the regular and normal duties of his office or position may, at will, terminate such additional participation in civil defense.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Under the Washington Civil Defense Act of 1951 (chapter 178, Laws of 1951), the civil defense organization of a county is under the direction and control of the board of county commissioners as the executive head of the county.  The county director of civil defense appointed by the board is the administrator of the county civil defense program, but is at all times responsible to the board of commissioners.   [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] Paragraph (1), section 8, chapter 178, Laws of 1951.

            The county, through its board of commissioners, is authorized to make appropriations for the payment of the expenses of the county civil defense organization.  Paragraph (1), section 12 of the act.  Such expenses clearly include the salaries of employed personnel.

            Section 13 of the act reads as follows:

            "In carrying out the provisions of this act, the governor and theexecutive heads of the political subdivisions of the state are directed to utilize the services, equipment, supplies, and facilities of existing departments, offices, and agencies of the state and of the political subdivisions thereof to the maximum extent practicable, and the officers and personnel of all such departments, offices, and agenciesare directed to cooperate with and extend such services and facilities to the governor and to the civil defense organizations of the state upon request."  (Emphasis supplied).

            Under these provisions it is recognized that existing offices, departments, and agencies of the county and of the state may, on a cooperative basis and in the regular course of their operations, render assistance to the county organization.  It is not contemplated that in cooperating with or rendering such assistance to the county organizations, personnel is to be assigned exclusively to the civil defense organization or that the existing state and county offices, departments, and agencies shall be materially disrupted in the performance of their normal operations.  Much less does it contemplate that such officers or personnel may be preempted into the active service of the civil defense organization.  Direct active participation of personnel in the operations of a civil defense organization is on a voluntary basis whether such personnel is compensated or is uncompensated.

            We therefore advise that there is no obligation on the part of a county office to supply personnel for civil defense; that in the event the county official or employee is actively participating in the civil defense operations to an extent which is beyond the cooperation with  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] the civil defense organization required of him in the performance of his normal duties, such official or employee may terminate such additional participation at will.

            The foregoing should not be construed as in any way affecting the continuing duty of the county commissioners to at all times participate as part of the county civil defense organization by directing and controlling the county director's administration of the county civil defense organization, pursuant to such duty as imposed by the Washington Civil Defense Act.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

FRED L. HARLOCKER
Assistant Attorney General

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