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The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



Opinion No. 5662

March 4, 1980


Park ranger



Law enforcement information network (LEIN)



Park rangers of a county parks and recreation commission do not constitute a criminal justice agency for purposes of obtaining information from the law enforcement information network.

Where park rangers are deputized by the county sheriff, law enforcement information network information may be obtained upon request of the county sheriff.

A township constable is ineligible to receive information from the law enforcement information network unless the constable serves as the criminal justice agency for the township.

Mr. Henry Sedmak

Executive Secretary

LEIN Policy Council

714 South Harrison Road

East Lansing, Michigan 48823

You have requested my opinion on the following questions:

1. May park rangers appointed by a county board of parks and recreation have access to law enforcement information network (LEIN) information?

2. May a constable have access to computerized criminal history records?

Under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 42 USC 3701 et seq, the Congress has created the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), and charged it with the responsibility of assisting state and local government in strengthening and improving criminal justice through technical assistance and federal grants. 42 USC 3711.

In 42 USCA 3771(b), Congress has provided:

'All criminal history information collected, stored, or disseminated through support under this chapter shall contain, to the maximum extent feasible, disposition as well as arrest data where arrest data is included therein. The collection, storage and dissemination of such information shall take place under procedures reasonably designed to insure that all such information is kept current therein; the administration shall assure that the security and privacy of all information is adequately provided for and that information shall only be used for law enforcement and criminal justice and other lawful purposes. . . .'

In determining access, rules promulgated pursuant to the Crime Control Act of 1973, 42 USCA 3751, must be considered. 28 CFR 20.21(f)(4)(v) concerns security and states that the state plan (LEIN) shall set forth operational procedures to:

'Provide that direct access to criminal history record information shall be available only to authorized officers or employees of a criminal justice agency and, as necessary, other authorized personnel essential to the proper operation of the criminal history record information system.'

28 CFR 20.3(c) and (d) set forth definitions for 'criminal justice agency' and the 'administration of criminal justice':

'(c) 'Criminal justice agency' means: (1) courts; (2) a government agency or any subunit thereof which performs the administration of criminal justice pursuant to a statute or executive order, and which allocates a substantial part of its annual budget to the administration of criminal justice.

'(d) The 'administration of criminal justice' means performance of any of the following activities: detection, apprehension, detention, pretrial release, post-trial release, prosecution, adjudication, correctional supervision, or rehabilitation of accused persons or criminal offenders. The administration of criminal justice shall include criminal identification activities and the collection, storage, and dissemination of criminal history record information.'

Reading these rules together, it is clear that the agency must qualify for access to such information and not particular officers or employees of the agency. Once the agency is deemed to have met the criteria of a criminal justice agency, then authorized officers or employees of the agency may be entitled access to such information.

With respect to your first question, you have indicated that the park rangers in question have been deputized by the county sheriff. 1968 PA 216, Sec. 14(4); MCLA 46.364; MSA 5.570(114), provides:

'A county or regional commission may appoint park rangers who may be deputized by a sheriff to enforce the laws of the state and the apprehension of the violators thereof. Park rangers may enforce the rules adopted by a county or regional commission whether deputized or not, and shall have the powers, privileges and immunities conferred upon peace officers by the laws of this state. No park ranger shall be appointed unless he or she meets the minimum standards established by the law enforcement officers training council. Park rangers shall exercise their authority and powers only on lands, waters and property administered by or under the jurisdiction of a county or regional commission.' (Emphasis supplied.)

The park rangers of a county or regional parks and recreation commission do not constitute a criminal justice agency as defined by 28 CFR 20.3(c), supra.

Where the park rangers have been deputized by the county sheriff, they may seek LEIN information only through the office of county sheriff. This office is charged with the duty of preservation of the peace and the arrest and detention of persons charged with the commission of a public offense. White v East Saginaw, 43 Mich 567; 6 NW 86 (1880). It is clearly a criminal justice agency. Thus, deputized park rangers may have access to LEIN information only when it is requested and obtained by the county sheriff.

It is, therefore, my opinion that rangers appointed by a county board of parks and recreation may not have direct access to LEIN information.

Your second question concerns the access of a constable to LEIN information.

As to township constables, reference should be made to 1846 RS ch 16, Sec. 82, as last amended by 1976 PA 426; MCLA 41.82; MSA 5.74, which provides:

'(1) Constables shall serve all warrants, notices, and process lawfully directed to them by the township board, or the township clerk, or another officer, and shall perform other duties as are required of them by law. A township board, by ordinance, may restrict or limit the powers of a township constable prescribed by state law. If the township requires the constable to perform both statutory criminal and civil duties, a person elected or appointed to the office of township constable shall comply with the minimum employment standards established by the law enforcement officer training council pursuant to section 9 of Act No. 203 of the Public Acts of 1965, as amended, being section 28.609 of the Michigan Compiled Laws. The cost of complying with these standards shall be borne by the township.'

It should also be noted that township boards are empowered pursuant to 1945 PA 246, Sec. 1, as last amended by 1978 PA 590; MCLA 41.181; MSA 5.45(1), to employ and establish a police department with full power and authority to enforce all local township ordinances.

While constables have been included within the definition of the term 'peace officer', People v Bissonette, 327 Mich 349, 356; 42 NW2d 113, 116 (1950), a township constable whose peace officer authority had not been limited by ordinance of the township board, nevertheless, would not constitute a criminal justice agency for purposes of securing information from LEIN where the township had an established police department. The latter agency would be the criminal justice agency of the township. Only in a township where the township constable served as the criminal justice agency for the township would the township constable be eligible to receive information from LEIN.

Constables are also authorized in charter townships under 1947 PA 359, Sec. 9; MCLA 42.9; MSA 5.46(9), with powers and duties as required by state law. In 1947 PA 359, Sec. 12; MCLA 42.12; MSA 5.46(12), the township board in each charter township is authorized to establish a police force and appoint a township marshall for the preservation of quiet and order and the protection of persons and property within the township. Such police agency or marshall, not the constable, would be the appropriate agency to receive information from LEIN.

In fourth class cities, constables have similar powers in civil and criminal matters as are conferred by law upon constables in townships. 1895 PA 215, ch VII, Sec. 24; MCLA 87.24; MSA 5.1681. However, the city marshall of a fourth class city is designated as the chief of police of the city and he is vested with all the powers conferred upon sheriffs for the preservation of quiet and good order in the city in accordance with 1895 PA 215, ch VII, Sec. 16; MCLA 87.16; MSA 5.1673. Thus, in a fourth class city, the city marshall or the police department of the city, not the city constable, would be the agency eligible to receive information from LEIN.

As to home rule cities, 1909 PA 279, Sec. 32, as last amended by 1976 PA 408; MCLA 117.32; MSA 5.2112, provides for at least one constable to be elected or appointed in certain cities with similar powers conferred by law on constables in townships. By ordinance the city may abolish the position or restrict and limit the authority conferred upon the constable. By 1909 PA 279, Sec. 34; MCLA 117.34; MSA 5.2114, the peace officer powers of a sheriff within the city limits of a home rule city are conferred upon police officers of the city. Thus, the police department of such city, not the city constable, is the appropriate agency to request and receive information from LEIN.

It is, therefore, my opinion that a constable is not a law enforcement agency eligible to receive information from LEIN, except where the township constable serves as the only criminal justice agency for the township.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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