§ 31-50-1. Office of automobile theft and insurance fraud Powers and duties of investigators.
(a) There is established an office of automobile theft and insurance fraud.
(b) The scope and purpose of the office of automobile theft and insurance fraud shall be to investigate and prosecute crimes involving the theft or other unauthorized use of motor vehicles and to investigate and prosecute all forms of automobile insurance-related fraud.
(c) The office of automobile theft and insurance fraud shall consist of a director, and not less than five (5) nor more than eight (8) investigators, who shall be selected and who shall be specially-trained to investigate instances of automobile theft and automobile claim insurance fraud. The director shall be a member of the Rhode Island state police with at least the rank of sergeant, and shall remain on the personnel rolls of the Rhode Island state police, with the same salary and benefits schedule, and shall retain all powers of a member of the Rhode Island state police of that rank.
(d) The office of automobile theft and insurance fraud shall be under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of the state police. He or she shall appoint the director of that office from amongst the members of state police who have attained the rank of sergeant or above. The director, with the approval of the superintendent, shall have the authority to appoint and to remove, if necessary, the investigators and staff of the office.
(e) The director and the investigators shall have the following powers:
(1) To arrest independently or in conjunction with local, state or federal law enforcement agencies.
(2) To apply for and execute search warrants;
(3) To serve civil and criminal process.
(f) No person shall be appointed as an investigator in the office unless he or she has successfully completed the basic course of instruction for police officers at the Providence Police Training Academy, the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy, or the Rhode Island State Police Training Academy, and has at least three (3) years of active law enforcement experience, or has served as a member of the United States Marshal's Service or as a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a criminal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of State, the United States Department of the Treasury or the United States Postal Inspection Service and has at least three (3) years of active law enforcement experience, or has been certified as a police officer by the duly-constituted state commission on police officer standards and training of another state, and has at least three (3) years of active law enforcement experience. Prior to the appointment of any individuals, a background examination shall be conducted utilizing federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, bureau of criminal identification, national crime information center, and any and all relevant records existing within the federal and state court systems.
(g) The attorney general shall designate one assistant or special assistant attorney general to the office whose duties shall be exclusively devoted to the office of automobile theft and insurance fraud. That assistant shall be funded from the account established in § 31-50-4.
(h) The state shall hold the director and each investigator harmless and indemnify them to the extent provided under § 9-31-12 for acts committed within the scope of their employment.
(P.L. 1993, ch. 380, § 1; P.L. 1996, ch. 193, § 1.)