Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report

The Connecticut General Assembly


August 2, 1995 95-R-0732


FROM: Lawrence K. Furbish, Assistant Director

RE: Hartford County Sheriff's Office

You asked several questions concerning the office of the Hartford County High Sheriff. Specifically, you wanted (1) a copy of the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct for deputy sheriffs and special deputy sheriffs, (2) a list of the names and addresses of all special deputy sheriffs with an indication of which are involved in court security and prisoner transportation, (3) information on which of these deputies have other full time jobs or are retired, (4) information on how the Hartford County Sheriff's drug testing policy compares with the current statutory and case law on drug testing of employees, and (5) the length of time the statutes allow a sheriff to appoint deputy and special deputy sheriffs.


A copy of the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct is attached. We requested a list of the names and addresses of special deputies in June and were told that such a list was being compiled and would be sent to us. When it did not arrive we were told that the request must have been mislaid and we were asked to put the request in writing. A copy of the letter re-requesting the information is attached. As soon as we receive the list it will be forwarded to you.

It is the policy of the Hartford Sheriff not to hire special deputies who have other full time jobs and we were told that this policy is being followed. The sheriff's office has no information on whether any of its presently employed special deputies are retired. Sheriffs and their deputies are not covered by the state's drug testing law, but the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibits the government from carrying out unreasonable searches and seizures might apply. Whether the courts would find the Sheriff's drug testing policy constitutional is unclear. Finally, the statutes specifically make the terms of office for deputy and special deputy sheriffs the same as the term of office of the sheriff appointing them, unless they are removed earlier for just cause after notice and a hearing.


According to John Griffen, chief deputy sheriff for Hartford County, the new High Sheriff recently made it department policy that employees should not hold full-time outside jobs. Apparently in the past there were a number of full-time policemen and firemen who were employed by the sheriff's office. But according to Griffen, these people were not reappointed by the new High Sheriff. He knew of no one currently employed by the department who is employed full-time elsewhere. The department does not keep records on retirement status or the outside part-time employment of its employees.


The Hartford County Sheriff's Department drug testing policy, as promulgated by Sheriff Walter J. Kupchunos, makes it “a condition of appointment within the Sheriff's Department that all members of the Department be subject to random and mandatory drug testing by urinanalysis (sic.).” Employees that refuse to submit to testing or who test positive are subject to termination. The specific penalties for a variety of substance abuse related conduct are listed in Article II of the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. The policy also states that “any member of the Department found in possession of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia shall be deemed a drug abuser and subject to the penalties prescribed in Article II of the Hartford County 'Code of Conduct'.” But the Code does not contain any violation or penalty for “possession” of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia; the listed offenses involve testing positive, refusing a test, being under the influence, consuming, or failing to report.

Generally, under state law private-sector employers cannot require employees to undergo random drug testing unless they work in designated high risk or sensitive jobs, but these restrictions do not apply to sheriffs or their deputies. Under a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the Fourth Amendment's protection from unreasonable searches and seizures applies to urine drug tests, but the court has generally adopted a balancing to test to weigh the government's need for the information against the individual's privacy rights. It is not clear how the court might rule on a challenge to the Hartford Sheriff's drug testing policy. We have enclosed a report previously prepared by this office on this topic (94-R-0846).


Legislation passed in 1994 in response to a report from the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee made several changes in the laws governing sheriffs, including the terms of deputies and special deputies (PA 94-177). The statutes now specifically provide that special deputies (CGS 6-43) and deputies (CGS 6-45) “shall continue to hold office as long as the term of office of the sheriff appointing them, unless sooner removed for just cause after due notice and hearing.” Deputies and special deputies are appointed by the sheriff (CGS 6-37 and 43), and the term of office of a sheriff is four years (Const. of Ct. Art. Fourth, 25). Thus the term of office of a deputy or special deputy who is appointed at the start of a sheriff's term would be four years, unless removed sooner for cause.