7-32-303. Peace officer employment, education, and certification standards -- suspension or revocation -- penalty. (1) For purposes of this section, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, "peace officer" means a deputy sheriff, undersheriff, police officer, highway patrol officer, fish and game warden, park ranger, campus security officer, or airport police officer.
(2) A sheriff of a county, the mayor of a city, a board, a commission, or any other person authorized by law to appoint peace officers in this state may not appoint any person as a peace officer who does not meet the following qualifications plus any additional qualifying standards for employment promulgated by the Montana public safety officer standards and training council established in 2-15-2029:
(a) be a citizen of the United States;
(b) be at least 18 years of age;
(c) be fingerprinted and a search made of the local, state, and national fingerprint files to disclose any criminal record;
(d) not have been convicted of a crime for which the person could have been imprisoned in a federal or state penitentiary;
(e) be of good moral character, as determined by a thorough background investigation;
(f) be a high school graduate or have been issued a high school equivalency diploma by the superintendent of public instruction or by an appropriate issuing agency of another state or of the federal government;
(g) (i) be examined by a licensed physician or, for the purposes of a mental health evaluation, a person who is licensed by the state under Title 37 and acting within the scope of the person's licensure, who is not the applicant's personal physician or licensed mental health professional, appointed by the employing authority to determine if the applicant is free from any mental or physical condition that might adversely affect performance by the applicant of the duties of a peace officer; or
(ii) (A) satisfactorily complete the physical examination required by subsection (2)(g)(i); and
(B) complete a standardized mental health evaluation instrument determined by the employing authority to be sufficient to examine for any mental health conditions that might adversely affect the performance by the applicant of the duties of a peace officer if the instrument is scored by a mental health professional acting within the scope of licensure by any state and the mental health professional finds that the applicant is free of any such mental health condition;
(h) successfully complete an oral examination conducted by the appointing authority or its designated representative to demonstrate the possession of communication skills, temperament, motivation, and other characteristics necessary to the accomplishment of the duties and functions of a peace officer; and
(i) possess or be eligible for a valid Montana driver's license.
(3) At the time of appointment, a peace officer shall take a formal oath of office.
(4) Within 10 days of the appointment, termination, resignation, or death of any peace officer, written notice of the event must be given to the Montana public safety officer standards and training council by the employing authority.
(5) (a) Except as provided in subsections (5)(b) and (5)(c), it is the duty of an appointing authority to cause each peace officer appointed under its authority to attend and successfully complete, within 1 year of the initial appointment, an appropriate peace officer basic course certified by the Montana public safety officer standards and training council. Any peace officer appointed after September 30, 1983, who fails to meet the minimum requirements as set forth in subsection (2) or who fails to complete the basic course as required by this subsection (5)(a) forfeits the position, authority, and arrest powers accorded a peace officer in this state.
(b) A peace officer who has been issued a basic certificate by the Montana public safety officer standards and training council and whose last date of employment as a peace officer was less than 36 months prior to the date of the person's present appointment as a peace officer is not required to fulfill the basic educational requirements of subsection (5)(a). If the peace officer's last date of employment as a peace officer was 36 or more but less than 60 months prior to the date of present employment as a peace officer, the peace officer may satisfy the basic educational requirements as set forth in subsection (5)(c).
(c) A peace officer referred to in subsection (5)(b) or a peace officer who has completed a basic peace officer's course that is taught by a federal, state, or United States military law enforcement agency and that is reviewed and approved by the Montana public safety officer standards and training council as equivalent with current training in Montana and whose last date of employment as a peace officer or member of the military law enforcement was less than 60 months prior to the date of present appointment as a peace officer may, within 1 year of the peace officer's present employment or initial appointment as a peace officer within this state, satisfy the basic educational requirements by successfully completing a basic equivalency course administered by the Montana law enforcement academy. The prior employment of a member of the military law enforcement must be reviewed and approved by the Montana public safety officer standards and training council. If the peace officer fails the basic equivalency course, the peace officer shall complete the next available appropriate basic course.
(6) The Montana public safety officer standards and training council may extend the 1-year time requirements of subsections (5)(a) and (5)(c) upon the written application of the peace officer and the appointing authority of the officer. The application must explain the circumstances that make the extension necessary. Factors that the council may consider in granting or denying the extension include but are not limited to illness of the peace officer or a member of the peace officer's immediate family, absence of reasonable access to the basic equivalency course, and an unreasonable shortage of personnel within the department. The council may not grant an extension to exceed 180 days.
(7) A peace officer who has successfully met the employment standards and qualifications and the educational requirements of this section and who has completed a 1-year probationary term of employment must be issued a basic certificate by the council certifying that the peace officer has met all the basic qualifying peace officer standards of this state.
(8) It is unlawful for a person whose certification as a peace officer, detention officer, or detention center administrator has been revoked or suspended by the Montana public safety officer standards and training council to act as a peace officer, detention officer, or detention center administrator. A person convicted of violating this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a term of imprisonment not to exceed 6 months in the county jail or by a fine not to exceed $500, or both.
History: En. Sec. 4598, Pol. C. 1895; re-en. Sec. 3124, Rev. C. 1907; re-en. Sec. 4879, R.C.M. 1921; re-en. Sec. 4879, R.C.M. 1935; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 257, L. 1967; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 66, L. 1971; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 81, L. 1971; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 62, L. 1973; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 188, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 16-3705(part); amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 191, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 714, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 217, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 9, Ch. 662, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 437, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 12, Ch. 506, L. 2007; amd. Sec. 13, Ch. 2, L. 2009; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 75, L. 2009; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 55, L. 2015; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 196, L. 2015.