119 Cal.Rptr. 620
Docket No. 44901.Court of Appeal of California, Second District, Division Four.
February 28, 1975. Page 636
Lewis Marenstein, Ronald H. Stillman and Alan Marenstein for Petitioner.
T. Groezinger, James J. Vonk, George S. Bjornsen and Robert A. La Porta for Respondents.
This is a proceeding to review a decision of the Workmen’s Compensation Appeals Board denying compensation upon the ground that the injury was not work-related.
The evidentiary facts are not in dispute. The applicant is a police officer of the City of Hermosa Beach. November 26, 1973, was his usual day off, but, because a motion picture company was working in that city, he was assigned to direct traffic, in uniform. For this assignment he received overtime pay from the city. About 3 p.m. it appeared his services were no longer needed so he was relieved. He then went to a
theatre in the adjacent city of Redondo Beach to see a motion picture. When he left the theatre at about 6:10 p.m. it was dark. As he walked to his automobile in the parking lot, still in uniform, he noticed a parked vehicle with five young men in it huddled together. He was aware there had been a lot of tampering with cars in that lot, and these men “just didn’t look right,” so the applicant decided to walk by them to have a closer view. As he walked, he tripped over a divider on the pavement and fell, breaking his left arm.
The referee concluded that this evidence did not show that the applicant’s injury had arisen out of or in the course of his employment, and upon that ground denied compensation. Applicant’s petition to the board for reconsideration was denied. It does not appear that there was any basis for disbelieving the applicant’s testimony, or that either the referee or the board rejected any of it as untrue. For the purpose of this decision, we regard the facts as established. (See Garza v. Workmen’s Comp. App. Bd.
(1970) 3 Cal.3d 312, 317-318 [90 Cal.Rptr. 355, 475 P.2d 451].) The issue is one of law.
(1) The following legal standards are applicable:
The Standard Operating Procedural Manual of the Hermosa Beach Police Department admonished the officer that he was “always on duty” and, particularly, while in uniform he was to conduct himself as though he was then on duty.
The Penal Code section 830.1 established the statewide power of the officer to make an arrest upon reasonable cause to believe a public offense had been committed in his presence, with respect to which there was danger to property or of the escape of the perpetrator.
Government Code section 50921 promised the officer workmen’s
compensation benefits for an injury sustained in performing his duties as a peace officer in the protection of property anywhere in the state, even though not acting under the immediate direction of his superior.
The applicant’s mission, at the time of the injury, was to protect property, and to prevent a crime or apprehend an offender if his investigation disclosed reasonable cause to take such action. As an officer in uniform, he could not ignore a situation which, his training and experience told him, required his attention. The officer was not engaged in the arrest or detention of anyone or in a search for or seizure of anything. Cases defining the lawful scope of such activities have no relevance to the issue here. Legal cause to arrest or detain is not the threshold of an officer’s entry upon his official duty in a case such as this. The applicant was performing the duty of an officer when he made his approach for the purpose of investigating whether any offense was being committed and some property required protection.
The decision of the appeals board is annulled and the case remanded for a proper award of compensation to applicant.
Jefferson, J., and Dunn, J., concurred.
“. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“(c) As to any public offense committed or which there is probable cause to believe has been committed in his presence, and with respect to which there is immediate danger to a person or property, or of the escape of the perpetrator of such offense.”
Government Code section 50920 establishes that a city police officer is a peace officer within the meaning of section 50921.