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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. 6235

July 18, 1984


Home rule--employment of emergency reserve police officers as peace officers


Emergency reserve officers of city--exercise of powers of peace officers

A home rule city may employ and use emergency reserve police officers meeting the training requirements of 1965 PA 203, whose duties may include patrolling city streets and parks in marked police vehicles, issuing citations and making arrests.

Honorable Robert A. DeMars

State Representative

The Capitol

Lansing, MI

You have requested my opinion regarding the circumstances in which a reserve police officer, whose position is created by local ordinance, may patrol city streets or parks in a marked police vehicle, issue citations and make arrests.

You advise that the City of Lincoln Park has enacted a city ordinance, Chapter 2.42, which authorizes its public safety commission to appoint special patrolmen, known as emergency police reserve officers, as may be deemed necessary. Section 2.42.050 of the ordinance further provides that while performing actual duties, such reserve officers shall possess the same powers as full-time regular police officers of the Lincoln Park Police Department. Since the establishment of the emergency reserve officers program, it has evolved into a permanent part-time police force rather than an emergency force called upon only during times of emergency.

The reserve officers have been compensated since January of 1976 and have negotiated their status and benefits pursuant to collective bargaining agreements between the city and an association representing the reserve officers since June 1, 1977. The police reserves in Lincoln Park receive monthly written assignments requiring the performance of police duties at least one day per week. They do not work in conjunction with any full-time regular police officers, although they are under the direction of regularly employed supervisory level officers. All reservists hired after January 1, 1977 have received the necessary training to comply with the minimum standards established by the Law Enforcement Council pursuant to the Law Enforcement Officers Training Council Act of 1965, 1965 PA 203, as amended; MCLA 28.601 et seq; MSA 4.450(1) et seq.

On order to determine whether a Lincoln Park emergency reserve officer may engage in police patrol, issue citations, and make arrests, it is first necessary to determine the status of the Lincoln Park emergency reserve police officers. In People v Bissonnette, 327 Mich 349, 356; 42 NW2d 113 (1950), the court provided the following general definition of the term 'peace officer':

Peace officers have general authority to operate in a broader field. Their powers have not been specifically defined by the statute law of this state.

'Peace Officers. This term is variously defined by statute in the different States; but generally it includes sheriffs and their deputies, constables, marshalls, members of the police force of cities, and other officers whose duty is to enforce and preserve the public peace.' [Emphasis added.]

Inasmuch as the city ordinance, section 2.42.050, supra, provides that permanent intermittent reserve police officers possess the same power as full-time regular police officers, it is clear that duly assigned emergency reserve police officers are peace officers as that term is generally understood in Michigan. It is also well established that in the absence of preemptive state legislation 'the control of a city police department is a function of local municipal government.' Smith v Flint City Comm'n, 258 Mich 698, 700; 242 NW 814 (1932).

A review of the pertinent statutes reveals that the Legislature has not prohibited home rule cities from using reserve or part-time police officers; rather, it has mandated that each city charter provide 'for the public peace and health and for the safety of persons and property.' 1909 PA 279, Sec. 3(j); MCLA 117.3(j); MSA 5.2073(3)(j). The use of reserve officers is consistent with overall legislative intent. For example, 1935 PA 59, Sec. 6(b), as emended; MCLA 28.6; MSA 4.436, authorizes the director of the state police to create an 'auxiliary' police force. RS 1846, c 14, Sec. 70; MCLA 51.70; MSA 5.863, authorizes county sheriffs to appoint 'special deputies' to perform particular police duties. 1895 PA 215 Sec. 2; MCLA 92.2; MSA 5.1750, authorizes mayors of certain cities to appoint 'temporary policemen' for three-day periods during emergencies.

With respect to the training requirements for law enforcement officers, the Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Training Act of 1965, 1965 PA 203, supra, Secs. 2(c) and 9(2) provide that all police officers who are 'regularly employed' and who are 'responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the enforcement of the general criminal laws of the state' must meet the training and instructional requirements therein set forth. The said Act further provides that a police officer who fails to comply with the Act's requirements 'shall not be empowered to exercise all the authority of a police officer in this state, nor employed in a position which is granted the authority of a peace officer by statute, . . ..' 1965 PA 203, supra, Sec. 9(2). However, the Act exempts certain persons from its training and instructional requirements. In particular, the exemption applies if the 'person is a member of a sheriff's posse or police auxiliary temporarily engaged in the performance of his duties and while under the direction of the sheriff or police department.' 1965 PA 203, supra, Sec. 9(1)(d)(iv).

Accordingly, in view of the statutory authority granted to home rule cities to provide for the protection of their citizens, and in the absence of any statutory proscription, it is my opinion that the City of Lincoln Park may employ and use emergency reserve police officers pursuant to its duly enacted ordinances, whose duties may include patrolling city streets and parks in marked police vehicles, issuing citations and making arrests.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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