Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1951 No. 31 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


The salary of the sheriff's jailer is set, like other deputies, by the county commissioners.

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                                                                    May 2, 1951

Honorable Don G. Abel
Prosecuting Attorney, Grays Harbor County
Aberdeen, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 31

Attention:  Mr. Paul Fournier, Deputy

Dear Sir:

            You have inquired whether:

            A sheriff's deputy, utilized partially as a jailer, may be paid as a regular deputy sheriff.

            We conclude that he can.


            Rem. Rev. Stat. § 10195 (P.P.C. § 680-11) provides:

            "The sheriff, * * * shall have charge of the county jail of his proper county and of all persons by law confined therein, * * *"

            subject to proper rules and regulations promulgated by the county judge or judges.  Rem. Rev. Stat. § 10203 (P.P.C. § 680-27) provides:

            "The jailer or keeper of the jail, unless the sheriff elect to act as jailer in person, shall be a deputy appointed by the sheriff, and such jailer shall take the necessary oath before entering  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] upon the duties of his office,and shall be paidby the sheriff for his services as jailer and not by the county; provided, the sheriff shall in all cases be liable for the negligence and misconduct of the jailer as of other deputies."  (Emphasis supplied).

            Rem. Rev. Stat. § 4160 (P.P.C. § 492-3) provides:

            "Each sheriff may appoint as many deputies as he may think proper, for whose official acts he shall be responsible to the amount of their [his] bond, and may revoke such appointments at his pleasure; and persons may also be deputed by any sheriff in writing to do particular acts; and the sheriff shall be responsible on his official bond for the default or misconduct in office of his deputies."

            Rem. Rev. Stat. § 10186 (P.P.C. § 680-29) Laws of 1881 provide:

            "Whenever the board of county commissioners of any county of the state of Washington deem it necessary for the sheriff of any county to employ assistance for the safekeeping of any person or persons in custody of said sheriff on criminal charge or otherwise it shall be lawful for said commissioners to authorize said sheriff to employ one or more jailers for such purpose, and said county shall pay said jailer quarterly out of any funds in the county not otherwise appropriated:  Provided,such compensation shall in no caseexceed fifty dollars per month, and shall be fixed by said board of county commissioners."  (Emphasis supplied)

            This section is carried into both Rem. Rev. Stat. and P.P.C. as unamended and still in force.  However, the code revision committee in compiling RCW, determined the section was "superseded," and with this we agree.

            The laws of 1890 (Rem. Rev. Stat. § 4210 et seq., P.P.C. § 475-41) provide:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "* * * the county officers of the counties of this state, according to their class, shall receive as a salary for the services required of them by law, or by virtue of their office, which salary shall be full compensation for all services of every kind and description rendered by the officers named herein:  Provided, that in case the salaries herein provided for are, in the judgment of the board of county commissioners, inadequate for the services required of the officers named herein, then the said board of county commissioners may allow such officer a deputy, or such number of deputies as, in their judgment, may be required to do the business of such office in connection with the principal, for such time as may be necessary, and at such salary as they may designate; the said deputies shall be paid in the same manner and time as their principals:  Provided, that the county commissioners shall pay the actual traveling expenses of the sheriff while on official duties, to be audited by the board of county commissioners."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Other provisions of the act abolished the fee status of the sheriff's office and provided that such fees be paid into the county treasury.  This would amend that portion of Rem. Rev. Stat. § 10203 (P.P.C. § 680-27) above, requiring the sheriff to pay his own jailer.  The portion requiring the jailer to be a deputy would remain in force.  The sheriff was still responsible for his deputies, and he could appoint as many as he chose, but salaries were to be determined by the county commissioners.

            State ex rel. Farmer v. Austin, 186 Wash. 577, 584, 588, 59 P. (2d) 379 (1936), held that the county commissioners were authorized, within the limits of a valid discretion, to determine the number of deputies, including jailers, paid by the county and to set the salary scale.  The fifty dollar statutory ceiling on the jailer's monthly salary is not specified in the opinion, but it, however, thoroughly considers the over-all problem and holds Rem. Rev. Stat. § 4210, P.P.C. § 475-41, above, controls.

            We, therefore, conclude:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            (1) That the jailer must be a deputy sheriff,

            (2) His salary as jailer is set by the county commissioners, and

            (3) It necessarily follows that a deputy he may exercise both the normal duties of a deputy, as well as those of the jailer.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General