Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1990 NO. 4 >

1.  The county sheriff's duty to enforce state law applies equally in incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county.  2.  If a city is unable to provide for adequate police protection, the county sheriff must take this factor into account in allocating the resources of the sheriff's office.  However, the statutes do not obligate the sheriff to provide a city with a specific number of police officers or a specific level of police services.  3.  If a city wants to obtain a specific number of county police officers or level of police services, the Interlocal Cooperation Act empowers the city to contract with the county to provide those services.

AGO 2004 NO. 4 >

1.  A county sheriff, as supervisor of the county jail, is required to accept arrestees presented at the jail for booking and housing pending disposition of charges, whether the arrestees are presented by county officers, by state patrol officers, or by other state employees with criminal law enforcement responsibilities.     2.  The county sheriff does not have authority to (1) limit the hours during which the county jail will accept arrestees presented for booking by state officers, or (2) limit the number of arrestees that can be presented during a stated time period.  3.  RCW 43.135.060 does not require the state to reimburse counties for the cost of booking or housing arrestees presented at the county jail by state patrol officers or other state employees, since this practice is neither a “new program” nor an “expansion of an existing program.”

AGLO 1979 NO. 5 >

The provisions of chapter 41.14 RCW constitute the exclusive means of removing, suspending, demoting or otherwise taking action adverse to the employment status of a deputy sheriff whose employment is covered by that law, any provisions contained in a collective bargaining agreement to the contrary not withstanding.

AGO 1961 NO. 5 >

A county sheriff is prohibited by RCW 42.22.040 (2) from receiving a reward from the United States Post Office Department for the performance of services instrumental to the solution of a crime relating to the postal service, unless the matter for which the reward is offered is in no way connected with or related to his services as county sheriff.

AGO 1996 NO. 7 >

RCW 35.13.360 through .400 do not entitle sheriff's employees to transfer to the police department of a city which, having incorporated prior to the effective date of those statutes, but having contracted with the county for law enforcement services for several years, then (subsequent to the enactment of the statutes) forms its own police department.

AGLO 1975 NO. 8 >

(1) A vacancy in the office of county sheriff created by a resignation does not constitute an "incapacity" within the meaning of RCW 36.24.010 so as to require the county coroner to perform the duties of the sheriff until the vacancy is filled by the county commissioners. (2) If, upon the occurrence of a vacancy in the office of county sheriff, the superior court of the county were to appoint an acting sheriff under the provisions of RCW 36.28.090, its action would be entitled to a presumption of validity and even if ultimately established to be invalid, it would nevertheless establish the appointee as the defacto county sheriff.

AGLO 1978 NO. 8 >

RCW 41.14.030 does not prohibit a person from simultaneously serving as a county civil service commissioner and as a high school librarian.


AGO 1967 NO. 9 >

The only positions which are outside the classified civil service in the sheriff's office of a first, second or third class county are the positions of sheriff and three principal positions comparable to undersheriff, a chief criminal deputy and a chief civil deputy; accordingly, the sheriff of such a county may not fill the position of jailer or head jailer by appointment outside the classified civil service except to the extent that he may designate himself, or his undersheriff, chief criminal deputy or chief civil deputy as jailer or head jailer.

AGO 1968 NO. 9 >

(1) Where a sheriff finds a reported stolen vehicle abandoned on a public highway or at some other place in his county, he may, in the absence of available public equipment and facilities for such purposes, employ the operator of a private towing and storage service to tow and store such vehicle until the owner appears and claims it. (2) In such a case, the private towing and storage operator who has been thus employed may assert a lien in the vehicle against the owner for payment of such towing and storage charges as are due at the time the owner appears to claim the vehicle.

AGO 1984 NO. 9 >

RCW 41.14.140 does not authorize, or empower, a county sheriff to fix the compensation of his deputies without regard to what the board of county commissioners might have determined.