A bylaw enforcement officer is a law enforcement employee of a municipality, county or regional district, charged with the enforcement of bylaws, rules, laws, codes or regulations enacted by local governments. Bylaw enforcement officers are often out in the community responding to complaints from the public. They often work closely with local police, as well as provincial and federal authorities.
This terminology is commonly used in North America – particularly Canada – and some other Commonwealth countries. In the Canadian province of Ontario, bylaw enforcement officers are generally titled municipal law enforcement officers, and in Newfoundland & Labrador, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, the term municipal enforcement officer is also used. In German speaking countries the term Ordnungsamt, literally translated "Order Office", is widely used. Under other denominations, this kind of bylaw enforcement exists in several countries around the world.
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The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with North America and Canada and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.(January 2019)
Municipalities are under ever-increasing pressure to provide services efficiently and more cost-effectively; many city governments see bylaw officers as attractive alternatives to police for enforcement of municipal bylaws and less serious issues. Police departments are under increased pressures in everything from staffing and finances, to the requirement to conduct police work within an increasingly complex legal framework brought about by increased litigiousness in society and more onerous limits and guidelines imposed on the police in order to protect individual rights and freedoms. As such, police departments are frequently unable or unwilling to perform duties related to the enforcement of non-criminal statutes or municipal bylaws.
Many cities are finding themselves in situations where the police have stopped performing certain duties which they performed in the past. Failure to regulate certain activities in their municipality then creates problems and generates complaints and public frustration. This commonly results in the relegation of this task to Bylaw Enforcement Officers.
Because the field developed in such an unusual way, essentially to accommodate changes and professionalization of policing, municipal employees of this class began taking on tasks historically performed by police officers, but without any policing powers or protections under the law. Meter maids initially serviced parking meters, which had been a fairly new phenomenon in North American cities of the 1950s. Eventually, as traffic police officers only rarely enforced parking meter regulation, the cities required meter maids to write parking tickets. By the 1970s, most large municipalities had meter maids, who, through the course of the 1980s and the 1990s, transformed into parking enforcement officers and were asked to enforce many more regulations than just those pertaining to meters. In recent history, parking enforcement officers are increasingly taking on other duties, and municipalities are amalgamating specialized enforcement into general duty bylaw enforcement.
Because changes of this sort were unplanned, employees performing various classes of bylaw enforcement (parking, animal control, inspection work) frequently performed a duty of an officer of the law or as a person of authority. Since most bylaw officers were not sworn peace officers (and many are still not), the limits of their authority and exact definition of their powers have occasionally faced challenges.
Many provincial and state laws are being changed to help clarify status of non-constabulary bylaw officers. In British Columbia, when the new enabling charter was amended, (called the Community Charter), sections specifically referring to bylaw officers were included, including the power of bylaw officers to enter upon private property and investigate without warrant, something police are unable to do. Most provinces have not given local governments the power to allow bylaw officers to trespass without permission, with the exception of BC and OntarioThis power given to allow bylaw officers to intrude on private property and enter residences without any permission or oversight may be on constitutionally infirm ground considering the recent (2019) Supreme court of Canada decision in R v Le which involved Toronto police officers entering a backyard without a warrant or permission, the supreme court declared in its holding with some exceptions police and other peace officers must follow the implied license doctrine which allows police officers and other members of the public (on lawful business) to enter onto private property and approach the door of the residence in order to speak with the owner or occupier.
Many provinces have also standardized training for bylaw enforcement officers. The Alberta Municipal Government Act has no requirements for training of bylaw officers in Alberta. But formal training is available through the Alberta Municipal Enforcement Association and other organizations. If the person is also appointed as a community peace officer then they are required to go through a six-week training program at the Alberta Staff College or complete training that has been approved by the solicitor general's office depending on what provincial acts are being enforced. The Justice Institute of British Columbia and other private training companies offer specialized courses to those wishing to attain certification in the field in British Columbia.
Sometimes, the enforcement of particular bylaws may be conducted on contract by a private company. Such companies are either highly specialized in a single area of bylaw enforcement (such as animal control in the case of the SPCA), or provide security guards, who are then specially trained to handle specific tasks, usually limited to traffic or parking enforcement. The most recent trend is to recall many of the services previously contracted out and put systems in place to conduct such services in-house. As such, contracting-out is not a great concern in this field.
In Australia, the terms law enforcement officer, shire ranger and local laws officer are used for general-duty bylaw enforcement, traffic officer for parking enforcement only, and animal management officer (formerly known as ranger or council ranger ) for animal-related enforcement.
Within Canadian jurisdictions, the term bylaw enforcement officer may refer to one or more classes of employees charged with enforcing bylaws, such as animal control officers, parking and traffic enforcement officers, property use inspectors, and building inspectors, but more commonly refers to a person employed in a uniformed capacity for the purpose of enforcing a variety of bylaws in a high-visibility role. Increasingly, municipalities are opting for this model of bylaw enforcement, as a multi-purpose approach to bylaw enforcement is less costly while offering more flexibility. Incumbents to such positions often require a higher degree of skill and experience than those employed in stratified enforcement roles. Many municipalities seek to recruit former or retired police officers to these positions, but the field has undergone significant change in the past several decades, and increased reliance on bylaw officers on the part of the municipal governments has expedited the professionalization of this field. Many police academies and public administration schools offer specialized training in bylaw enforcement.
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Most bylaw enforcement services are structured in one of the following ways:
It is disputed by experts on whether bylaw officers are peace officers as defined by the criminal code of Canada; some lower courts in British Columbia have reached the conclusion that they are, but this has not been affirmed by any higher court in that province or elsewhere in Canada
Today, all bylaw enforcement officers employed in Canada are de facto peace officers; in numerous provinces, bylaw officers are also de jure peace officers for the purpose of enforcing municipal laws, having been sworn under various police acts. Courts have ruled on several occasions, most recently in 2000 (in R. v. Turko), that the definition of peace officer under section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada includes bylaw officers as "other person[s] employed for the preservation or maintenance of the public peace or for the service or execution of civil process."As such, while actually engaged in the execution of their duties, bylaw enforcement officers are peace officers, independent of whether they are sworn or unsworn constables.
This was first proven in court in 1973, when two men were charged with obstructing a peace officer, in the Yukon Territory Magistrates Court in R. vs Jones and Hubertfor their part in removing an impounded dog from an animal control van, contrary to the instructions given to them by an animal control officer of the local municipality. This was the first "peace officer test" before a Canadian federal court to determine whether the definition of peace officer in the Criminal Code of Canada can be extended to bylaw officers, as "other persons employed for the preservation of peace." Justice O'Connor ruled that the animal control officer was in fact a peace officer, under the criminal code, but only while in the performance of his duty, and not for the purposes of any activities unrelated to his duties (such as enforcing criminal law). Furthermore, Justice O'Connor highlighted the severity and criminality of obstructing a bylaw officer:
"It was submitted [to me] by the defendants that [they should have been charged under a section of the bylaw for hindering the bylaw officer, and not under the Criminal Code]. Having concluded that Mr. Malloy [the bylaw officer] was a peace officer for Criminal Code purposes, and having concluded that the charge under s. 118 of the Criminal Code applies [now sec. 129], I doubt whether s. 13 of the dog bylaw is intra vires of the council of the City of Whitehorse. Obstruction of an animal control officer is a matter of criminal law over which the federal government has legislative jurisdiction. ... In any event it is not for the council of the City of Whitehorse to determine who is a peace officer for the purposes of the Criminal Code. That can only be done by Parliament."
Since then, several other court decisions have reaffirmed this ruling: in Moore v R,the Manitoba County Court held that a poundkeeper was a peace officer within the meaning of section 2 of the criminal code. Most recently, in 2000, in R vs Turko, the Provincial Court of British Columbia ruled that Capital Regional District (CRD) bylaw enforcement officers were justified in arresting a person for failing to provide identification while engaged in enforcement of an anti-smoking bylaw, as the latter's refusal to provide identification constituted obstruction of a peace officer (contrary to sec. 129 of the criminal code). "I conclude," Judge Ehrcke wrote in the judgment against Mr. Turko, "based on the duties the officers in this case were exercising that they were peace officers engaged in their duties when they attempted to enforce the bylaw against the accused. They were maintaining and preserving the public peace." Turko was convicted of the obstructing of a peace officer and assault on a peace officer.
Not only did the Turko decision confirm that bylaw officers were peace officers within the meaning of the criminal code, but it held that a bylaw officer had the powers to detain or arrest a person for failing to identify themselves according to section 129.
This was further upheld in Woodward v. Capital Regional District et al. (2005), where two bylaw officers used force, including batons, to arrest a person for obstruction. Judge M. Hubbard ruled that bylaw officers were justified in arresting a person for failing to provide identification, and in so doing, using whatever reasonable force was necessary to subdue a person.
In Alberta, section 555(1) of the Municipal Government Act states that "A person who is appointed as a bylaw enforcement officer is, in the execution of enforcement duties, responsible for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace".
Section 15(2) of Ontario's Police Services Act R.S.O. 1990, states "Municipal law enforcement officers are peace officers for the purpose of enforcing municipal by-laws."Similar sections exist in most provincial police acts.
For bylaw officers, this means that those persons who may be employed as bylaw officers without having been sworn under provincial acts are nonetheless protected under the criminal code definition of peace officer. This has somewhat convoluted the process of legally appointing bylaw officers. In British Columbia, for example, a person may be appointed as a bylaw officer through the Community Charter,which sets out different powers and responsibilities the Province of BC delegates to municipalities. However, the Provincial Police Act, which sets out various rules pertaining to police structure and administration in BC, also provides a mechanism for appointing bylaw officers.
It may be a criminal offense of obstruction of justice for a person to provide a false name or fail to provide their name to a bylaw officer if they are to be issued a bylaw ticket as was found by a provincial court judge in British Columbia in which the suspect also physically resisted so this case law may be limited to a certain set of circumstances as occurred in that case.the charter of rights protects the right to remain silent, and any obligation to ID is limited to providing a name and date of birth, there is no law anywhere in Canada that requires civilians to carry or produce photo ID on request to police or bylaw officers unless they are operating a motor vehicle Conversely, this doesn't apply to being asked to identify yourself by a peace officer; failure to prove identity is an arrestible offence, and will result in detainment.
However, how far the peace officer status extends to bylaw officers in other contexts is unclear. Some municipalities now use bylaw officers to stop and inspect commercial vehiclesand even for non-criminal enforcement of marijuana grow operations. However, although it is clear that sections on obstruction and assault (for their own protection) apply to bylaw officers, it is unclear to what extent other peace officer powers apply to bylaw officers, particularly in cases where the bylaw officer gives direction to party that disobeys (i.e. the bylaw officer attempts to pull over a vehicle which intentionally fails to stop or gives lawful instructions to someone who then disobeys that instruction). It is also unclear to what extent peace officer status applies to non-proprietary (contract) employees, such as those employed by a security company on contract to a municipality.
In the Canadian province of Alberta, municipalities can appoint bylaw enforcement officers under the authority of section 555 and 556 of the Municipal Government Act. There is a common misconception that all bylaw officers are community peace officers.[ citation needed ] However, a person appointed as a community peace officer can only enforce provincial acts and regulations. A community peace officer is not authorized to enforce municipal bylaws unless they are also appointed under the authority of the Municipal Government Act, or if the specific bylaw states it can be enforced by a community peace officer working for that municipality. There are a number of municipalities in Alberta whose officers enforce only municipal bylaws as bylaw officers, others that only enforce provincial acts as community peace officers, and others that hold dual municipal and provincial appointments.
In the mainland of the People's Republic of China (PRC) every city established a so-called Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau, commonly abbreviated to Chengguan (Chinese :城管; pinyin :Chéngguǎn) as a local government agency for bylaw enforcement duties.
The Chengguan is part of a city or municipality's Urban Management Bureau (Chinese :城市管理局; pinyin :Chéngshì Guǎnlǐ Jú). The agency enforces local bylaws, city appearance bylaws, environment, sanitation, work safety, pollution control, health, and can involve enforcement in planning, greening, industry and commerce, environment protection, municipal affairs and water in large cities.
In Germany order enforcement offices are established under the state's laws and local regulations under different terms like Ordnungsamt (order enforcement office), Ordnungsdienst (order enforcement service), Gemeindevollzugsdienst (municipal code enforcement office) or Polizeibehörde (police authority). Beside this some German communities implemented Stadtpolizei (city police) forces for general-duty law enforcement. Currently there are no general regulations or standards for the training, there are different responsibilities and powers. The equipment and uniforms differ from town to town, some carry weapons and wear police-like or police uniforms, others just wear labeled jackets over plain clothes. Most of the order enforcement offices are established by the municipalities, but can be established by the rural districts for their area of competence as well.
In the Netherlands, this service is called Handhaving (Dutch for "Enforcement") or Handhaving en Toezicht (Dutch for "Enforcement and Surveillance"), and the police-like uniforms carry this inscription in most cities as well. The officials of these municipal authorities actively address people who are against the city regulations and are present in public places.The responsibilities of Handhaving include:
In New Zealand, local governments such as district/city councils usually appoint persons to undertake certain enforcement duties. Councils can employ persons such as: Enforcement Officers, Animal Control Officers, Parking Officers, Noise Control Officers, and Litter Officers. These positions are granted role-specific powers under legislation. Common parts of their roles include enforcing bylaws made by the local council, such as dog-leash rules or parking restrictions during special events. Abuse against these government employees is commonplace and safety measures have started to take effect, such as body-worn cameras.
Municipalities in the United States more frequently use the terms code enforcement officer or municipal regulations officer , although code enforcement officers in the United States often have a narrower scope of duties than municipal bylaw enforcement officers in Canada. Code enforcement officers in the United States are more like property standards officers in Canada.
In the United Kingdom, the word warden is commonly used to describe various classes of non-police enforcement officers, and sometimes the title of inspector is also used in various jurisdictions. An environmental warden in Edinburgh, Scotland, has duties very similar to those of a bylaw enforcement officer employed by a similar-sized city in Canada.
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Marshal is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society. As marshals became trusted members of the courts of Medieval Europe, the title grew in reputation. During the last few centuries, it has been used for elevated offices, such as in military rank and civilian law enforcement.
A fire marshal or fire commissioner, in the United States and Canada, is often a member of a state, provincial or territorial government, but may be part of a building department or a separate department altogether. Fire marshals' duties vary but usually include fire code enforcement or investigating fires for origin and cause. Fire marshals may be sworn law-enforcement officers and are often experienced firefighters. In larger cities with substantially developed fire departments the local fire departments are sometimes delegated some of the duties of the fire marshal.
Security Police Officers are persons employed by or for a governmental agency or corporations that own mass private property to provide police and security services to those properties.
Special Police, also known as Special Jurisdiction Law Enforcement; usually describes a police force or unit within a police force whose duties and responsibilities are significantly different from other forces in the same country or from other police in the same force, although there is no consistent international definition. A special constable, in most cases, is not a member of a special police force (SPF); in countries in the Commonwealth of Nations and often elsewhere, a special constable is a voluntary or part-time member of a national or local police force or a person involved in law enforcement who is not a police officer but has some of the powers of a police officer.
A parking enforcement officer (PEO), traffic warden, parking inspector/parking officer, or civil enforcement officer is a member of a traffic control department or agency who issues tickets for parking violations. The term parking attendant is sometimes considered a synonym but sometimes used to refer to the different profession of parking lot attendant.
A law enforcement officer (LEO), or peace officer in North American English, is a public-sector employee whose duties primarily involve the enforcement of laws. The phrase can include police officers, prosecutors, municipal law enforcement officers, special police officers, customs officers, state troopers, special agents, secret agents, special investigators, border patrol officers, immigration officers, court officers, probation officers, parole officers, arson investigators, auxiliary officers, game wardens, sheriffs, constables, corrections, marshals, deputies, detention officers, correction officers, sworn campus police officers and public safety officers. Security guards are civilians and therefore not law enforcement officers, unless they have been granted powers to enforce particular laws, such as those accredited under a community safety accreditation scheme such as a security police officer.
The Transit Enforcement Unit is the transit law enforcement and corporate security unit of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As of May 2019, the TEU employs 56 transit enforcement officers (TEOs), and 63 transit fare inspectors (TFIs).
Code enforcement, sometimes encompassing law enforcement, is the act of enforcing a set of rules, principles, or laws and ensuring observance of a system of norms or customs. An authority usually enforces a civil code, a set of rules, or a body of laws and compel those subject to their authority to behave in a certain way.
Council rangers are officers employed by local government areas in Australia to enforce the by-laws of those local governments and a limited range of state laws relating to such matters as litter control, animal control, dog laws, cat laws, bush fire control, off-road vehicles, emergency management, and parking.
Law enforcement in Canada consists of public-sector police forces that are associated with and commissioned to the three levels of government: municipal, provincial, and federal. In addition, many First Nations reserves have their own police forces established through agreements between the governing native band, province and the federal government. Most urban areas have been given the authority by the provinces to maintain their own police forces. Seven of Canada's provinces and all three territories, in turn, contract out their provincial or territorial law-enforcement responsibilities to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the national police force, which is commissioned to the federal level of government; the other three maintain provincial police forces, although one also partially contracts out to the RCMP. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is the second largest law enforcement agency in Canada. The CBSA facilitates the flow of legitimate travellers and trade. The agency also enforces more than 90 acts and regulations. Since December 2003, the CBSA has been an integral part of the Public Safety Portfolio. The president of the CBSA reports directly to the Minister of Public Safety Canada and controls and manages all matters relating to the agency
Law enforcement in Austria is the responsibility of the Directorate General for Public Security, a subdivision of the Federal Ministry of the Interior located at Herrengasse 7 in Vienna. Over 20,000 police officers are on duty in the Federal Police at more than 1,000 police stations. On lakes and rivers the federal police has over 70 boats and other craft to act as the water police.
In many countries, particularly those with a federal system of government, there may be several law enforcement agencies, police or police-like organizations, each serving different levels of government and enforcing different subsets of the applicable law.
The Municipal Police are the local police of towns and cities in France outside the capital. There are 18,000 municipal police officers in 3,500 communities. The Municipal Police are one of the three components of French policing, alongside the National Police and the National Gendarmerie, with about 145,000 police and 98,000 soldiers respectively.
A civil enforcement officer is a person employed to enforce parking, traffic and other restrictions and laws.
In South Africa, the Municipal Police are the separate police forces maintained by some municipalities for law enforcement in South Africa. Municipal police forces are responsible for traffic policing and enforcing local bylaws within the municipality, and work in co-operation with the South African Police Service to prevent crime and maintain public order. Municipal police forces exist in a number of major South African cities, including Cape Town and Johannesburg
A special constable or special police constable is generally an auxiliary or part-time law enforcement officer.
The history of prostitution in Canada is based on the fact that Canada inherited its criminal laws from England. The first recorded laws dealing with prostitution were in Nova Scotia in 1759, although as early as August 19, 1675 the Sovereign Council of New France convicted Catherine Guichelin, one of the King's Daughters, with leading a "life scandalous and dishonest to the public", declared her a prostitute and banished her from the walls of Quebec City under threat of the whip. Following Canadian Confederation, the laws were consolidated in the Criminal Code. These dealt principally with pimping, procuring, operating brothels and soliciting. Most amendments to date have dealt with the latter, originally classified as a vagrancy offence, this was amended to soliciting in 1972, and communicating in 1985. Since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms became law, the constitutionality of Canada's prostitution laws have been challenged on a number of occasions.
The City of Ottawa's By-law and Regulatory Services Branch (BLRS) is a uniformed municipal law enforcement agency providing regulatory services to the residents and visitors of the City of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The Independent Investigation Unit is the civilian oversight agency in Manitoba, Canada responsible for the investigation of incidents resulted in serious injury or death to any person. IIU has jurisdiction over all municipal police officers, First Nations police officers and Royal Canadian Mounted Police "D" Division officers, for all complaints on or off duty related.