1503.29 Forest officers.

(A) As used in this section, "felony" has the same meaning as in section 109.511 of the Revised Code.

(B)

(1) Subject to division (D) of this section, any person employed by the chief of the division of forestry for administrative service in a state forest may be designated by the chief and known as a forest officer. A forest officer, on any lands or waters owned, controlled, maintained, or administered by the department of natural resources and on highways, as defined in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code, adjacent to lands and waters owned, controlled, maintained, or administered by the division of forestry, has the authority specified under section 2935.03 of the Revised Code for peace officers of the department of natural resources to keep the peace, to enforce all laws and rules governing those lands and waters, and to make arrests for violation of those laws and rules, provided that the authority shall be exercised on lands or waters administered by another division of the department only pursuant to an agreement with the chief of that division or to a request for assistance by an enforcement officer of that division in an emergency.

(2) A forest officer, in or along any watercourse within, abutting, or upstream from the boundary of any area administered by the department, has the authority to enforce section 3767.32 of the Revised Code and other laws prohibiting the dumping of refuse into or along waters and to make arrests for violation of those laws. The jurisdiction of forest officers shall be concurrent with that of the peace officers of the county, township, or municipal corporation in which the violation occurs.

(3) A forest officer may enter upon private and public lands to investigate an alleged violation of, and may enforce, this chapter and sections 2909.02 , 2909.03 , and 2909.06 of the Revised Code when the alleged violation or other act pertains to forest fires.

(C)

(1) A forest officer may render assistance to a state or local law enforcement officer at the request of that officer or may render assistance to a state or local law enforcement officer in the event of an emergency. Forest officers serving outside the division of forestry under this section or serving under the terms of a mutual aid compact authorized under section 1501.02 of the Revised Code shall be considered as performing services within their regular employment for the purposes of compensation, pension or indemnity fund rights, workers' compensation, and other rights or benefits to which they may be entitled as incidents of their regular employment.

(2) Forest officers serving outside the division of forestry under this section or under a mutual aid compact retain personal immunity from civil liability as specified in section 9.86 of the Revised Code and shall not be considered an employee of a political subdivision for purposes of Chapter 2744. of the Revised Code. A political subdivision that uses forest officers under this section or under the terms of a mutual aid compact authorized under section 1501.02 of the Revised Code is not subject to civil liability under Chapter 2744. of the Revised Code as the result of any action or omission of any forest officer acting under this section or under a mutual aid compact.

(D)

(1) The chief of the division of forestry shall not designate a person as a forest officer pursuant to division (B)(1) of this section on a permanent basis, on a temporary basis, for a probationary term, or on other than a permanent basis if the person previously has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty to a felony.

(2)

(a) The chief of the division of forestry shall terminate the employment as a forest officer of a person designated as a forest officer under division (B)(1) of this section if that person does either of the following:

(i) Pleads guilty to a felony;

(ii) Pleads guilty to a misdemeanor pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement as provided in division (D) of section 2929.43 of the Revised Code in which the forest officer agrees to surrender the certificate awarded to the forest officer under section 109.77 of the Revised Code.

(b) The chief shall suspend from employment as a forest officer a person designated as a forest officer under division (B)(1) of this section if that person is convicted, after trial, of a felony. If the forest officer files an appeal from that conviction and the conviction is upheld by the highest court to which the appeal is taken or if the forest officer does not file a timely appeal, the chief shall terminate the employment of that forest officer. If the forest officer files an appeal that results in that forest officer's acquittal of the felony or conviction of a misdemeanor, or in the dismissal of the felony charge against the forest officer, the chief shall reinstate that forest officer. A forest officer who is reinstated under division (D)(2)(b) of this section shall not receive any back pay unless that forest officer's conviction of the felony was reversed on appeal, or the felony charge was dismissed, because the court found insufficient evidence to convict the forest officer of the felony.

(3) Division (D) of this section does not apply regarding an offense that was committed prior to January 1, 1997.

(4) The suspension from employment, or the termination of the employment, of a forest officer under division (D)(2) of this section shall be in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code.

Cite as R.C. § 1503.29

History. Effective Date: 01-01-2004