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Name: In re M.M.
Case #: S177704
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/28/2012

A “school security officer” is a “public officer” for purposes of Penal Code section 148, subdivision (a)(1), willfully resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer in the discharge of his duties. When school security officers arrived to investigate fresh graffiti on campus, the minor was in a group who fled. He refused to stop at the direction of a uniformed officer. The minor ultimately submitted to orders to stop and was arrested. At a jurisdictional hearing of allegations of vandalism and resisting arrest, the officer testified that his duties included responding to reports of crimes such as vandalism, protecting people and school property, and ensuring the basic safety of the school by making sure persons on campus were not in possession of weapons, narcotics or contraband. The Court of Appeal reversed the violation of Penal Code section 148, subdivision (a)(1), finding the common law definition of a “public officer” did not include the school security officer. Reversed. The Supreme Court held that “public officer” is ambiguous and not specifically defined in the Penal Code, but legislative history reflects a definition which includes those public officials and employees who perform law enforcement related duties in connection with their office or employment. Also, public policy considerations suggest there should be legally enforceable obedience to the directions of school security officers who work in partnership with sworn peace officers.