Location:
LAW ENFORCEMENT; POLICE;

OLR Research Report


February 8, 2010

 

2010-R-0042

PEACE OFFICERS

By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst

You asked if other states include secret service and other federal law enforcement officers in their definition of “peace officer”.

Connecticut law includes federal narcotics officers, but no other federal law enforcement officer, in the penal code definition of peace officers (CGS 53a-3(9)). Several of the 43 states whose laws we researched either do not define “peace officer” or define the term only for a narrow, very specific purpose, such as retirement benefits or workers' compensation.

Ten of these states include federal law enforcement officers in the definition of peace officers for law enforcement purposes. These are: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Utah. Some of these states limit the federal officers classified as peace officers. Almost all include law enforcement officers from the following agencies authorized by law to carry firearms and make arrests: Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and United States Postal Service (USPS).

With minor exceptions, states that do not include federal law enforcement officers in the definition of peace officers give them some peace officer powers, which, in some cases, are almost identical to their authority in states that include them as peace officers. (Peace officer powers include the power to arrest without a warrant, conduct warrantless searches, and use physical and deadly force in making arrests to prevent an escape.) The states that do not include federal law enforcement officers in the definition of peace officers but give them peace officer authority include Delaware, Idaho, New York, Oregon, and Texas.

California explicitly excludes federal law enforcement officers from the definition of peace officer. But under a separate provision, duly authorized federal employees who comply with training requirements are defined as peace officers when enforcing state or local laws on U.S. government, or adjacent, property, provided they have the written consent of the sheriff or police chief of the jurisdiction where the property is situated (Cal. Pen. Code, 830.8).

Typically, federal law enforcement officers are subject to certain limitations, whether they are in states that define them as peace officers or states that do not define them as such but give them peace officer authority, and they may perform as peace officers only to the extent and under circumstances authorized by law. These include situations in which (1) a felony is, or is about to be, committed; (2) the officers witness crimes being committed; or (3) they are helping a state peace officer. Some states, such as California and Florida, require that the federal officers meet training requirements before they exercise peace officer powers. In Arizona, they must be certified as peace officers by an appropriate state and federal agency.

Attachment 1 shows the status of federal law enforcement officers in 43 states.

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Attachment 1: Peace Officer Status of Federal Law Enforcement Officers in Select States

State

Defines Federal Law Enforcement Officers as Peace Officer

The Federal Officers Defined as Peace Officers or Authorized to Exercise Peace Officer Powers

Powers States Give to Federal Law Enforcement Officers

Statutory Citation

Alabama

No (except for security officer licensing)

NA

NA

Ala. Code 36-21-60 & 34-27C-1

Alaska

No (except for U.S. marshals)

U.S. marshals

May arrest without warrant in specified circumstances

Alaska Stat. 01.10.060

Arizona

Yes (when appropriately certified by state and federal agency)

Officers of the following agencies who complete required training and are certified as peace officers by the state and relevant federal agency:

Secret Service

DEA

FBI

INS

Army Criminal -Investigation Div.

Navy Criminal -Investigation Service.

Air Force Office of Special Investigation

USPS

Customs

May possess and exercise all “law enforcement powers of peace officer” including the power to enforce state criminal laws, in the state under one-year renewable agreement

Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-3875 & 13-3883

Arkansas

Does not define peace officers (but authorizes federal law enforcement officers to arrest for state law violations to the same extent as state law enforcement officials)

Full-time federal law enforcement officers employed by the following agencies who have federal arrest powers and authority to carry firearms:

Secret Service

FBI

INS

DEA

U.S. marshals

USPS

Customs

General Services Administration

Agriculture (DOA)

BATF

IRS

Interior Department

Federal drug task force

Empowered to act as officers for the arrest of state law violators to the same extent and under the same circumstances as certified state law enforcement officers

Ark. Code Ann. 16-81-106(g) &(h)

California

No (except for federal employees who meet training requirements)

Duly authorized federal employees who satisfy training requirements

Federal criminal investigators and law enforcement officers are not peace officers but may exercise arrest powers in specified situations if they have been certified by their agency head and meet training requirements

Duly authorized federal employees who comply with training requirements are peace officers when enforcing state or local laws on U.S. government property or on adjacent property, provided they have the written consent of the sheriff or chief of police in the jurisdiction where the property is situated

Cal. Pen. Code 830.8

Colorado

Yes

Law enforcement officers authorized by federal law or employing agency to use deadly physical force in the performance of their duties

Authorized to act in any situation in which a felony or misdemeanor was or is being committed in their presence

Colo. Rev. Stat. 16-2.5-101 & 16-3-110

Delaware

No

Sworn federal law enforcement officers with arrest authority

Have arrest powers; have the same legal status and immunity as Delaware state police when arresting for state law violation only if (1) arresting for a felony they witnessed or (2) helping a peace officer who asks

Del. Code Ann. tit. 11 1901 & 1912

Florida

Does not define peace officers (but gives federal law enforcement officers some peace officer powers)

Full-time federal law enforcement officers who meet training requirements and are authorized to carry firearms and arrest for federal law violations

May, while performing federal law enforcement duties, arrest for felony or misdemeanor violations committed in their presence; use reasonable force to apprehend fleeing felons; conduct warrantless searches in above cases; and possess firearms and seize weapons to protect themselves

Fla. Stat. Ann. 901.1505

Georgia

No

NA

NA

Ga. Code Ann. 35-8-2; 17-4-20; & 35-2-14

Idaho

No

NA

NA

Idaho Code Ann. 37-2701; 19-510; 6-808; 18-8102; 19-5101; 72-1103; & Ch. 51, tit. 19

Illinois

Yes (for purposes specified in law)

Officers authorized by federal law to make arrest for federal violations

Secret Service

FBI

DEA

INS

Treasury

DOA

ATF

Customs Service

IRS

U.S. General Services Admin.

USPS

U.S. Marshals Service

Federal law enforcement officers are deemed peace officers when (1) enforcing certain firearm laws (2) helping Illinois police make arrests, or (3) they observe a felony being committed; officers have immunity while performing as peace officer

720 ILCS 5/2-13

Indiana

Does not define peace officer (but federal law enforcement officials are “federal enforcement officers” and have arrest powers)

Full-time federal enforcement officers from the following agencies who are empowered to make arrests for federal law violations and carry firearms in the performance of their duties:

Secret Service

U.S. Marshals Service

FBI

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

DEA

BATF

U.S. Forest Service

Department of Defense

Customs Service

USPS

National Park Service

DOA

INS

Other agencies (if employee authorized to carry firearms on duty)

May arrest for felonies committed or about to be committed in their presence

Ind. Code Ann. 35-41-1-17 & 35-33-1-1

Iowa

No (but federal law enforcement officers have some peace officer powers)

Full-time federal law enforcement officers empowered to make arrests for violation of federal law and carry firearms in the performance of their duties

May arrest for state law violations; have the same authority and immunity from suit as Iowa peace officer when making arrest for such crimes in specified circumstances

Iowa Code Ann. 801.4; 724.2A; 80B.3 & 804.7A

Kansas

Does not define peace officers (but FBI agents have arrest powers)

FBI agents empowered to arrest without a warrant for federal law violations and carry firearms in the performance of their duties

May arrest without a warrant in specified cases

Kansas Stat. Ann. 21-3110 & 22-2411

Kentucky

Yes

Federal law enforcement officers and investigators from the following agencies who have arrest powers and live in Kentucky:

Secret Service

FBI

U.S. Marshals

DEA

BATF

U.S. Forest Service

Inspector General's Office law enforcement officers and special agents

DOA

Customs service

Have the same powers and duties as Kentucky peace officers, but they cannot serve process

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 61.365

Louisiana

No (except for provision on crimes against peace officers)

NA

FBI agents may raise the defense of qualified immunity if (1) arresting for a felony in progress under state law or (2) helping a Louisiana peace officer

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 40:2402; 14:30; & 15:642

Maine

No definition (exception for purposes of the election laws, but the law defines federal officers as law enforcement officers for some purposes and specifically excludes them from the definition for other purposes)

Officers employed by the following agencies and authorized to carry firearms in the performance of their duties, provided (1) they are trained in Maine criminal law on the use of force, (2) the agencies develop policies governing their training, and (3) the Maine Criminal Justice Academy approves the policies:

Secret Service

INS

Justice Department

Border Patrol

Customs Service

Authorized to enforce state law in specified situations; in such cases, they have the same immunities as the State Police

Me. Rev. Stat.. 21-A 1 & 25 1502-A

Maryland

No (except that Homeland Security and Secret Service agents are peace officers for a very limited purpose, and other federal law enforcement officers have some police powers)

1. Federal law enforcement officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms in the performance of their duties
2. Homeland Security and Secret Service agents

May make arrest and execute search warrants under state law in specified situations and have the same legal status, protections, and immunity as Maryland police

Md. Code Ann. 2-104 & 10-620

Michigan

Does not include federal law enforcement officers in peace officer definition, but they are law enforcement officers under the Penal Code

Federal officers authorized to arrest for federal law violations and carry firearms in the performance of their duties

May enforce state law to the same extent as state or local officer under specified conditions

Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 750.528; 761.1; 764.15d, 750.215; & 780.951

Minnesota

No (but, in specified situations, they have the same authority to arrest and hold person in custody as peace officer)

Federal officials from the following agencies who are authorized to arrest for federal law violations:

Secret Service

DEA

FBI

U.S. Marshals

BATF

INS

Have the same authority to arrest and hold person in custody as state peace officers, in specified situations, when on duty and acting at the request of a state peace officer. (A separate provision allows Customs Service and INS agents to arrest without a warrant.)

Minn. Stat. 626.77

Mississippi

No (except for provision governing killing a peace officer; also law gives federal officers some police powers)

Federal officials authorized to enforce federal laws and carry firearms in the performance of their duties

May carry firearms, make arrests, and make searches in specified situations

Miss. Code Ann. 99-3-1; 99-3-2; 97-3-19; & 45-63

Missouri

No (but they are law enforcement officers under the criminal code)

Federal law enforcement officers authorized to carry firearms and arrest without a warrant

May arrest without warrant in specified cases; have same authority as Missouri police in such cases

Mo. Rev. Stat. 590.010; 42.261, 556.061; & 70.820

Montana

No

Customs and INS officers

Customs or INS officers may arrest without warrant for crime or attempt to commit crime in specified situations

Mont. Code Ann. 19-8-101; 46-1-202; 46-6-412; 45-2-101; 7-32-303; & 53-21-102

Nebraska

No (but they are defined as law enforcement officers for a limited specific purpose)

Agents of the following agencies:

Secret Service

FBI

DEA

U.S. Marshals Service

BATF

Treasury

Customs Service

Justice Department

IRS

May enforce certain laws pertaining to electronic communications

Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-646; 29-831; 49-801; 86-281; & 29-402

Nevada

No (but some officers may arrest without a warrant under certain circumstances)

FBI

Secret Service

DEA

May arrest without a warrant in specified cases

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 289.150, 171.1245; & 171.124

New Jersey

No general definition (but federal law enforcement officers are empowered to act as “officers” in some situations)

Full-time law enforcement officers from the specified agency who are authorized to arrest without warrant for federal law violations and carry firearms in the performance of their duties:

Secret Service

FBI

INS

U.S. Marshals Service

DEA

USPS

Customs Service

General Services Administration

DOA

BATF

IRS

Interior Department

May arrest for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree state law violations committed or attempted in their presence

N.J. Stat. Ann. 2A-154-5

New Mexico

Yes

All duly commissioned federal law enforcement officers employed by:

Secret Service

FBI

DEA

BATF

Customs Service

INS

U.S. Marshals Service

USPS

U.S. Probation Department

U.S Pretrial Services Agency

Other appropriate agencies whose officers primary duty is “law enforcement related” (on a case-by-case basis)

Have all the powers of peace officers, including the power to arrest for state law violations

N.M. Stat. Ann. 29-1-11

New York

No (but have many peace officer powers)

Federal law enforcement officers employed by the following agencies:

Secret Service

FBI

INS

U.S. Marshals Service

DEA

Federal Protective Officers

Customs Service

USPS

U.S. Park police

Parole Officers

General Services Administration

DOA

BATF

IRS

Bureau of Prisons

Fish and Wildlife

Naval Investigative Service

Department of State

Department of Defense

Department of Commerce

May make arrests (including warrantless arrests under specified conditions), use physical and deadly force in making arrests or to prevent escape, conduct warrantless searches, and seize firearms

N.Y. CPL 2.10, 2.15; 2.20; & 140.25

North Carolina

No (but have some peace officer

powers)

Full-time federal law enforcement officers from the following agencies authorized to carry firearms in the performance of their duties:

Secret Service

FBI

BATF

U.S. Naval Investigative Services

DEA

Customs Services

USPS

IRS

U.S. Marshals Service

U.S. Forest Service

National Park Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

INS

May enforce criminal laws statewide if asked by head of state or local law enforcement agency in defined circumstances; when performing such duties, they have the same powers and immunities as North Carolina police

N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-406

North Dakota

Yes, FBI and DEA agents (Customs and INS agents also have arrest powers, but they do not appear to be defined as peace officers)

FBI and DEA agents authorized to make arrest for federal violations and carry firearms

May make arrests in specified situations

N.D. Cent. Code 29-05-10; 12.1-01-04; & 29-06-01, et seq.

Ohio

No

Federal law enforcement officers authorized to arrest for federal law violations

May make arrests in specified cases; when performing official duties, have the same immunity from liability as Ohio police if performing in accordance with state law. (Also Customs Service and INS agents are specifically authorized to make arrests with or without warrant in specified cases)

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2935.01; 2935.04; & 9.88

Oklahoma

Yes

Full-time federal law enforcement officers authorized to make arrests for federal law violations

Are empowered to act as peace officers enforcing state criminal laws under specified circumstances; in such cases, they have the same powers and duties, including arrest powers, as if employed by the law enforcement agency under whose investigatory or territorial jurisdiction they are serving

Okla. Stat. Ann. 21 99

Oregon

No (but federal officers have some peace officer powers)

Any federal special agent or law enforcement officer certified as properly trained, empowered to arrest with or without a warrant for federal law violations; and authorized to carry firearms in the performance of their duties

May make arrests in specified cases; officers making arrests for state offenses have the same immunities as Oregon officers

Or. Rev. Stat. 161.015 & 133.245

Rhode Island

Yes

Federal enforcement officers

Peace officer powers

R.I. Gen Laws 12-7-21

South Carolina

Does not define peace officer (except for a limited definition for correction employees, S.C. Code Ann. 24-1-280, but federal law enforcement officers have some peace officer powers)

Full-time law enforcement officers from the following agencies authorized to carry firearms:

Secret Service

FBI

BATF

DEA

Customs Service

USPS

IRS

U.S. Marshals Service

May enforce criminal laws under specified circumstances; in such cases, they have the same powers as South Carolina police

S.C. Code Ann. 23-1-212

South Dakota

Yes

Officers from the following agencies responsible for enforcing federal laws and authorized to arrest for federal law violations:

Secret Service

FBI

DEA

U.S. Marshal Service

IRS

BATF

Fish and Wildlife Service

May make arrest for state crimes under specified circumstances; have the same authority as state or local law enforcement officers in such cases

S.D. Codified Laws 23A-45-9; 23A-3-25; & 23A-3-24

Tennessee

No (except for security officer licensing statutes, but they have arrest powers for felonies)

Sworn federal officers authorized to make arrests

Have the same legal status and immunities as state or local law enforcement officers when making arrest for nonfederal offenses inspecified cases

Tenn. Code Ann. 62-35-102(18) & 38-3-113

Texas

No (but they have search, seizure, and arrest powers for felonies)

Criminal investigators employed by the following agencies:

Secret Service

FBI

Customs Service

BATF

DEA

USPS

IRS

U.S. Marshals Service

U.S. Naval Investigative Service

INS

Dept. of State

General Services Admin.

Others

Have arrest, search, and seizure powers only for felony offenses under Texas law

Tex. Code Crim. Proc. 2.122

Utah

Yes, but only as specifically authorized by law

Federal officers include officers employed by the following:

Secret Service

FBI

Customs Service

BATF

DEA

U.S. Marshals Office

USPS

Other designees who meet criteria

Have statewide law enforcement authority with regard to felonies; may exercise such authority only if the state law enforcement agencies and county sheriffs with jurisdiction enter into agreement with the federal agency to give authority and the officers meet waiver requirements in statute, if they started working in the state after July 1, 1995

Utah Code Ann. 53-13-102; 53-13-106; & 53-1-102

Vermont

Does not define peace officer (but federal officers have some police powers)

Federal law enforcement officers employed by the following agencies and who (1) complete Vermont laws and criminal procedure course (2) are certified by the public safety commissioner, and (3) take an oath to uphold Vermont Constitution:

INS

DOJ

Customs Service

Treasury

Justice

May arrest for state law violations, in specified cases; in these cases, they have the same immunity and liability as Vermont officers

VT. Stat. Ann. 20 2222

Virginia

Does not define peace officers (but defines certain federal officers as “conservators of the peace” and gives them some police powers)

Special agents or law enforcement agents of the following federal agencies while performing official duties:

DOJ

Commerce

Treasury

Agriculture

Defense

State

Interior

USPS

U.S. Marshals

Labor (criminal investigator)

Naval Criminal Investigative Service

May arrest without a warrant in specified situations

Va. Code Ann. 19.2-12; 19.2-18; 19.2-19; & 19.2-81

West Virginia

No (but have some law enforcement powers)

Federal law enforcement officers from the following agencies authorized to carry firearms while performing their duties:

Secret Service

FBI

DEA

US Marshals Service

USPS

IRS

BATF

FBI

National Park Service

Have the same authority to enforce state laws, with minor exceptions, and are subject to the same exemptions and immunities as state or local police in specified cases

W. Va. Code 15-10-5

Wisconsin

Unclear*

NA

Federal law enforcement officer performing official duties may make arrest for felony and may assist Wisconsin law enforcement officers who ask for help; in such cases, they have same immunities as Wisconsin officers

Wis. Stat. 175.40 & 939.22(22)

Source: Compiled from state statutes

* The law defines “peace officer” as anyone vested by law with a duty to maintain public order or to make arrests for crime, whether that duty extends to all crimes or is limited to specific crimes (Wis. Stat. 939.22(22)). The definition appears broad enough to encompass federal officers.