OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- WASHINGTON STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE TRAINING COMMISSION ‑- LAW ENFORCEMENT ‑- ADMINISTRATION OF TESTS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission does not presently possess the legal authority to administer qualifying examinations to all persons seeking appointment or employment to positions in law enforcement within the various local communities of the state.
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March 6, 1978
Mr. James C. Scott, Director
Criminal Justice Training
Olympia, Washington 98504 Cite as: AGLO 1978 No. 6
By recent letter you requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
Does the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission presently possess the legal authority to ". . . assume and provide centralized administration of [what you have referred to as] the Wollack test to requesting user agencies . . ."?
We answer this question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.
As you have briefly described it, the Wollack test would be a job‑related entry level written examination which would be administered to persons seeking appointment or employment to positions in law enforcement (e.g., deputy sheriffs, [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] city police officers, etc.) within the various local communities of our state. Most certainly, the administration of some form of uniform qualification test for employment as a law enforcement officer might very well be a logical adjunct to the Training Commission's existing statutory responsibilities. Nevertheless, we must advise you that, in our opinion, additional legislation will first be needed.
As a state agency, the Commission has only those powers which have been granted to it by the legislature. State ex rel. Eastvold v. Maybury, 49 Wn.2d 533, 304 P.2d 663 (1956). With that in mind we have carefully analyzed the present powers of this agency as set forth in RCW 43.101.080 which reads as follows:
"The commission shall have all of the following powers:
"(1) To meet at such times and places as it may deem proper;
"(2) To adopt any rules and regulations as it may deem necessary;
"(3) To contract for services as it deems necessary in order to carry out its duties and responsibilities;
"(4) To cooperate with and secure the cooperation of any department, agency, or instrumentality in state, county and city government, and other commissions affected by or concerned with the business of the commission;
"(5) To do any and all things necessary or convenient to enable it fully and adequately to perform its duties and to exercise the power granted to it;
"(6) To select and employ an executive director, and to empower him to perform such duties and responsibilities as it may deem necessary;
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]] "(7) To assume legal, fiscal, and program responsibility for all training conducted by the commission;
"(8) To establish, by rule and regulation, standards for the training of criminal justice personnel where such standards are not prescribed by statute;
"(9) To establish and operate, or to contract with other qualified institutions or organizations for the operation of, training and education programs for criminal justice personnel and to lease for a period not to exceed three years a training facility or facilities necessary to the conducting of such programs: PROVIDED, That the commission shall not have the power to invest any moneys received by it from any source for the purchase of a training facility without prior approval of the legislature;
"(10) To establish, by rule and regulation, minimum curriculum standards for all training programs conducted for employed criminal justice personnel;
"(11) To review and approve or reject standards for instructors of training programs for criminal justice personnel, and to employ personnel on a temporary basis as instructors without any loss of employee benefits to those instructors;
"(12) To direct the development of alternative, innovate, and interdisciplinary training techniques;
"(13) To review and approve or reject training programs conducted for criminal justice personnel and rules establishing and prescribing minimum training and education standards recommended by the training standards and education boards;
"(14) To allocate financial resources among training and education programs conducted by the commission;
[[Orig. Op. Page 4]] "(15) To allocate training facility space among training and education programs conducted by the commission;
"(16) To issue diplomas certifying satisfactory completion of any training or education program conducted or approved by the commission to any person so completing such a program;
"(17) To provide for the employment of such personnel as may be practical to serve as temporary replacements for any person engaged in a basic training program as defined by the commission;
"(18) To establish rules and regulations recommended by the training standards and education boards prescribing minimum standards relating to physical, mental and moral fitness which shall govern the recruitment of criminal justice personnel where such standards are not prescribed by statute or constitutional provision.
"All rules and regulations adopted by the commission shall be adopted and administered pursuant to the administrative procedure act, chapter 34.04 RCW, and the open public meetings act, chapter 42.30 RCW."
In our judgment, however, this statute does not now (in the words of your question) authorize the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission ". . . to assume and provide centralized administration of . . ." such a testing program as you have described.
In addition, we have taken note of RCW 43.101.200 which codifies the provisions of § 2, chapter 212, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex.Sess. and reads as follows:
"(1) All law enforcement personnel, except volunteers, and reserve officers whether paid or unpaid, initially employed on or after January 1, 1978, shall engage in basic law enforcement training which complies with standards adopted by the commission pursuant [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] to RCW 43.101.080 and 43.101.160. Such training shall besuccessfully completed during the first fifteen months of employment of such personnel unless otherwise extended or waived by the commission and shall be requisite to the continuation of such employment.
"(2) The commission shall provide the aforementioned training together with necessary facilities, supplies, materials, and the board and room of noncommuting attendees for seven days per week. Additionally, the commission shall reimburse to participating law enforcement agencies with ten or less full-time commissioned patrol officers the cost of temporary replacement of each officer who is enrolled in basic law enforcement training: PROVIDED, That such reimbursement shall include only the actual cost of temporary replacement not to exceed the total amount of salary and benefits received by the replaced officer during his training period." (Emphasis supplied)
Noting, particularly, the above‑underscored phrase "successfully completed," we are of the opinion that the Commission does have the legal authority, by virtue of this statute, to administer tests for the purpose of determining an individual's passage (or failure) of the mandatory training program for which the legislature has thereby provided. This, however, is not (as we understand it) the same testing program as you have described in your letter.
We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General