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March 16, 1970
Honorable James P. McNally
County of Stevens
206 Court House
Colville, Washington 99114
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 32
We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated March 11, 1970, requesting our opinion on a question pertaining to membership in the new Washington law enforcement officers' and fire fighters' retirement system.
This retirement system, as you know, was created by the 1969 legislature through its enactment of chapter 209, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess. However, although this act became effective on July 1, 1969, the system itself did not become operative until March 1, 1970 ‑ in accordance with the provisions of § 4 of the 1969 act. In the meantime, a comprehensive amendatory bill was prepared for the consideration of the anticipated 1970 special session, and this bill was enacted as chapter 6, Laws of 1970. The definition of the key term "law enforcement officer" was some what refined by the 1970 amendatory act, and now reads as follows:
"'Law enforcement officer' means any person who is serving on a full time, fully compensated basis as a county sheriff or deputy sheriff, including sheriffs or deputy sheriffs serving under a different title pursuant to a county charter, city police officer, or town marshal or deputy marshal: PROVIDED, That the term 'city police officer' shall only include such regular, full time personnel of a city police department as have been appointed to offices, positions or ranks in the department which have been specifically created or otherwise expressly provided for and designated by city charter provision or by ordinance enacted by the legislative body of the city."
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On the question which you have asked ‑ namely, what constitutes a "full time town marshal" within the meaning of this definition, our answer to this question is that an individual may be regarded as a "full time town marshal" only if this is the only office or employment he holds with the town in question ‑ and it is an office to which he devoted his full time.
In accordance with the foregoing, we have advised the administrators of the new retirement system to reject any applications for membership where the employee's permanent record (blue form) pertaining to the individual in question reveals, on its face, that the prospective member holds more than one office or employment with the town in question. For example, if the employee's permanent record reveals that an individual (a) holds the office of town marshal, and receives a certain salary for this position; and (b) also holds the office or job of street superintendent ‑ for which he receives a separate salary, then this individual would not be a "full time town marshal" ‑ and therefore, would not be eligible for membership in the retirement system. However, on the other hand, if the employee's permanent record pertaining to a particular individual indicates that the only office held by him is that of town marshal, and that the only salary payable to him is as the town marshal, then the individual in question would be regarded as a full time town marshal and would be accepted into the retirement system without regard to the details of the job he is called upon by the particular town to perform as its town marshal.
It is hoped that the foregoing explanation of the matter, and of the procedures which are being used by the retirement system administrators with our guidance to determine membership eligibility in the new retirement system, will be of some assistance to you in advising your county commissioners and other interested officials with respect to the question you have posed.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General