(A) As used in this section, "felony" has the same meaning as in section 109.511 of the Revised Code.
(1) Any person selected by the chief of the division of natural areas and preserves for custodial or patrol service on the lands and waters operated or administered by the division shall be employed in conformity with the law applicable to the classified civil service of the state. Subject to division (C) of this section, the chief may designate that person as a preserve officer. A preserve officer, in any nature preserve, in any natural area owned or managed through easement, license, or lease by the department of natural resources and administered by the division, and on lands owned or managed through easement, license, or lease by the department and administered by the division that are along any trail established under Chapter 1519. of the Revised Code, 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. A preserve 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 any other laws prohibiting the dumping of refuse into or along waters and to make arrests for violation of those laws. The jurisdiction of a preserve officer shall be concurrent with that of the peace officers of the county, township, or municipal corporation in which the violation occurs.
The governor, upon the recommendation of the chief, shall issue to each preserve officer a commission indicating authority to make arrests as provided in this section.
The chief shall furnish a suitable badge to each commissioned preserve officer as evidence of the preserve officer's authority.
(2) If any person employed under this section is designated by the chief to act as an agent of the state in the collection of money resulting from the sale of licenses, fees of any nature, or other money belonging to the state, the chief shall require a surety bond from the person in an amount not less than one thousand dollars.
(3) A preserve officer may render assistance to a state or local law enforcement officer at the request of the officer or in the event of an emergency. Preserve officers serving outside the division of natural areas and preserves 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.
Preserve officers serving outside the division of natural areas and preserves under this section or under the terms of 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 preserve 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 a result of any action or omission of any preserve officer acting under this section or under a mutual aid compact.
(1) The chief of the division of natural areas and preserves shall not designate a person as a preserve 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.
(a) The chief of the division of natural areas and preserves shall terminate the employment as a preserve officer of a person designated as a preserve 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 preserve officer agrees to surrender the certificate awarded to the preserve officer under section 109.77 of the Revised Code.
(b) The chief shall suspend from employment as a preserve officer a person designated as a preserve officer under division (B)(1) of this section if that person is convicted, after trial, of a felony. If the preserve 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 preserve officer does not file a timely appeal, the chief shall terminate the employment of that preserve officer. If the preserve officer files an appeal that results in the preserve officer's acquittal of the felony or conviction of a misdemeanor, or in the dismissal of the felony charge against the preserve officer, the chief shall reinstate that preserve officer. A preserve officer who is reinstated under division (C)(2)(b) of this section shall not receive any back pay unless that preserve 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 preserve officer of the felony.
(3) Division (C) 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 preserve officer under division (C)(2) of this section shall be in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code.
Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.9,HB 1, §101.01, eff. 7/17/2009.
Effective Date: 01-01-2004; 04-06-2007