Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1976 No. 45 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


Such game protectors as are employed under RCW 77.04.020 do constitute peace officers as defined by RCW 9A.04.110(15) to the limited extent of the law enforcement authority vested in them by RCW 77.12.070.

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                                                                    July 19, 1976

Honorable Paul Klasen
Grant County Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County Courthouse
Ephrata, Washington 98823                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1976 No. 45

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have inquired ". . . as to whether or not a State Game Protector is a peace officer under RCW 9A.04.110(15)."


            The statute which you have cited, RCW 9A.04.110(15), is a part of the definitions section of the new state criminal code.  This particular subsection defines the term "peace officer" to mean:

            ". . . a duly appointed city, county, or state law enforcement officer;"

            Bearing this provision in mind, we turn, next, to RCW 77.04.020 which deals with the operation of the State Department of Game and reads, in pertinent part, as follows:

            "The department of game shall consist of the state game commission and the director of game.  The director of game shall have charge and general supervision of the department of game and may appoint and employ such game protectors, deputy game protectors, and such clerical and other assistants as may be necessary for the general administration of the department.

            ". . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            The specific powers and duties of such game protectors and deputy game protectors as are employed under this statute, along with those of other designated law enforcement officers, are set forth in RCW 77.12.070 which provides that:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "Every game protector, deputy game protector, sheriff, constable, marshal, and police officer within his respective jurisdiction, shall enforce all laws and rules and regulations adopted by the commission for the protection of game animals, fur-bearing animals, game birds, nongame birds, harmless or song birds, and game fish, and further shall enforce all laws or rules and regulations adopted by the commission pertaining in any manner to the management, operation, maintenance or use of all real property used, owned, leased or controlled by the department or the conduct of persons in or on the same, and may issue citations to persons failing to comply with any such law or rules and regulations, or with RCW 9.66.060 as now exist or are later amended.  The police officers specified, and United States game wardens, any forest officer, appointed by the United States government, state forest wardens and rangers, and each of them, by virtue of their election or appointment, are constituted ex officio deputy game protectors within their respective jurisdictions."

            Thus, although they are only empowered to enforce a limited category of laws, it seems clear that with respect to those laws such game protectors as are employed under RCW 77.04.020,supra, do constitute (in the words of RCW 9A.04.110(15),supra) ". . . state law enforcement officer[s] . . ."  Accordingly, to that extent it follows that your question is answerable in the affirmative; i.e., state game protectors are peace officers within the meaning of this last cited statutory definition.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General