Is the Conservator of the Peace a Law Enforcement Officer?

Yes, to those appointed who possess statutory powers of arrest acting within the scope of their employment. It also depends on what definition if any your relying upon to define a law enforcement officer. The code of Virginia does not have one catch all definition as to what a “law enforcement officer” is. In fact one must analyze the specific chapter or verse of law to determine if they are a “law enforcement officer” or not. For example, the assault & battery code (18.2-57) has it’s own definition of a LEO, which is different than the definition of a LEO under 9.1-101 which, in turn is different than the definition of a LEO under the Emergency Protective Order Code (16.1-253.4)(Which includes certain conservators of the peace). However, the VA Supreme Court in Hodge v. Commonwealth (2015) (See Courts/Case Law Page) made it clear that when the Code of Virginia uses vague undefined terms with no specificity or legal connotation, that the term “law enforcement officer” includes someone appointed under 19.2-13 who “has the authority to affect arrests, using up to the same amount of force as would be allowed to a law-enforcement officer employed by the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions when making a lawful arrest.”

But, the Code of Virginia says, "The order shall not identify the special conservator of the peace as a law-enforcement officer pursuant to § 9.1-101?”

That means exactly what it says. That pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 9.1-101 you are NOT a law enforcement officer. However, that is all that it means too:

§ 9.1-101. (Effective until July 1, 2018) Definitions.

As used in this chapter or in Chapter 23 (§ 19.2-387 et seq.) of Title 19.2, unless the context requires a different meaning:

But, then the Code of Virginia under 19.2-13 says, "The order may provide, however, that the special conservator of the peace is a "law-enforcement officer" for the purposes of Article 4 (§ 37.2-808 et seq.) of Chapter 8 of Title 37.2 or Article 16 (§ 16.1-335 et seq.) of Chapter 11 of Title 16.1."

These are the mental health laws concerning emergency custody orders & temporary detention orders, which is a form of physical custody/arrest. This process can originate by the officer on the street, or through formal petition at the Magistrate’s office. This specifically authorizes a conservator of the peace to become a law enforcement officer for carrying out the duties found within these codes of law. This was originally added to 19.2-13 to assist those employed in hospitals & mental health facilities across Virginia to carry out their duties more efficiently, and to not burden public law enforcement agencies with the task of executing these orders in jurisdictions that may have limited resources or officers/deputies.

Do I qualify under LEOSA?

See LEOSA page.

Can I use the Seal of the Commonwealth & the title “POLICE” in my badge/credential/uniform?

Yes, if the Circuit Court authorizes such title and ONLY if you are employed by the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission or the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority, AND meet the minimum compulsory training requirements for law enforcement officers under Chapter 1 of 9.1-100 et. seq. of Title 9.1.

* That special conservators of the peace employed on July 1, 2018, by the Shenandoah Regional Airport Commission or the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority who do not meet all requirements, including the minimum compulsory training requirements, for law-enforcement officers set forth in Chapter 1 (§ 9.1-100 et seq.) of Title 9.1 of the Code of Virginia may, in accordance with the provisions of this act, continue to use the word “police” on any badge, uniform, or vehicle in the performance of their duties or the seal of the Commonwealth on any badge or credential in the performance of their duties until July 1, 2020.

* If you are employed by a state agency as a conservator of the peace the Code still allows the use of the ‘Seal of the Commonwealth’

Other than special conservators of the peace employed by a state agency, no special conservator of the peace shall use the seal of the Commonwealth on any uniform, badge, credential, or vehicle in the performance of his duties.


§ 9.1-150.2. Powers of Criminal Justice Services Board relating to special conservators of the peace appointed pursuant to § 19.2-13.

“The Board shall adopt compulsory, entry-level training standards that shall not exceed, but shall be a minimum of 98 hours for unarmed special conservators of the peace and that shall not exceed, but shall be a minimum of 130 hours for armed special conservators of the peace. In adopting its regulations, the Board shall seek the advice of the Private Security Services Advisory Board established pursuant to § 9.1-143.”

Is there a statewide jurisdiction order of appointment?

No, the jurisdiction is set by the Circuit Court, and limited as such to the county, city or town that makes application, or if the application is by a corporation, to specific real property & contiguous property to such real property contained in the order of appointment.

What if I go to make an arrest, and the suspect flees outside of my jurisdiction, can I pursue?

Only if the Circuit Court authorizes such “fresh pursuit” authority & for what distance outside your jurisdiction you may pursue the suspect.

“The order may provide that the special conservator of the peace shall have the authority to make an arrest outside of such geographical limitations if the arrest results from a close pursuit that was initiated when the special conservator of the peace was within the confines of the area wherein he has been authorized to have the powers and authority of a special conservator of the peace; the order may further delineate a geographical limitation or distance beyond which the special conservator of the peace may not effectuate such an arrest that follows from a close pursuit.”

I work for a private corporation, why do I have to comply with the Federal & State constitutions?

The conservator of the peace program is used in government and the private sector. If you work for a governmental agency then you are a government or public employee. When your appointed under 19.2-13 as a government employee quite obviously the rules of criminal procedure and arrest apply to you acting in fact as a government employee. Very simple. When your employed in the private sector however, and appointed under 19.2-13, you are not a government employee, but instead a “state actor” who is empowered to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thus the same rules apply to you as they do government employees when it comes to respecting someones civil rights, and rules of criminal procedure & laws of arrest. The federal and state constitutions apply to all conservators of the peace.

Can I use blue lights on patrol vehicles?

No, the order of appointment specifically prohibits it, but allows for the use of “flashing lights and sirens on any vehicle used in the performance of his duties.” Va. Code Ann. 46.2-1023 specifically authorizes Red & White as the color scheme that may be used. This is a discretionary power left up to the Circuit Court.

“The order shall prohibit blue flashing lights, but upon request and for good cause shown may provide that the special conservator of the peace may use flashing lights and sirens on any vehicle used by the special conservator of the peace when he is in the performance of his duties.”

How can I submit an application for appointment when no Police/Sheriff’s Office will do a background check on me?

See background investigation page.

What type of insurance do I need?

See insurance requirement page.

I work for a private corporation that employs me in two distinctly separate jurisdictions, Shenandoah County & Prince William County. Do I have to submit petitions for appointment in both Circuit Courts?

You could, but it is not necessary unless one would be seeking “contiguous jurisdiction” or “fresh pursuit authority” to the real property in the foreign jurisdiction within the application. For example, if you had two pieces of property, one in Prince William, and one in Shenandoah, and submitted an application in Prince William that included the property in Shenandoah County, the Circuit Court could NOT authorize any powers beyond that of the real property in Shenandoah County. Contrary, the property in Prince William County may include contiguous jurisdiction or “fresh pursuit authority.”

19.2-13 (F)

“In the case of a corporation or other business, the court appointment may also include, for good cause shown, any real property owned or leased by the corporation or business, including any subsidiaries, in other specifically named cities and counties, but shall provide that the powers of the special conservator of the peace do not extend beyond the boundaries of such real property.”

What’s with 19.2-13(H)? What if my incorporated town or city has no police department, or I live in rural Virginia, and the Sheriff’s office only has so many people, can a private corporation or entity partner with the government under “mutual aid agreements" to provide police/security services to residents?

Yes, this allows incorporated governments to partner with private business or “any entity” to provide and maintain “peace and good order.” Any officer performing their duty under such agreement shall have the same authority as they would within their own jurisdiction.

H. The governing body of any locality or the sheriff of a county where no police department has been established may enter into mutual aid agreements with any entity employing special conservators of the peace that is located in such locality for the use of their joint forces and their equipment and materials to maintain peace and good order. Any law-enforcement officer or special conservator of the peace, while performing his duty under any such agreement, shall have the same authority as lawfully conferred on him within his own jurisdiction.

Does the Circuit Court retain full control over a person’s order of appointment?

Yes, it may be revoked at any time for “good cause shown” upon the filing of a sworn petition by the attorney for the Commonwealth, sheriff, or chief of police for any locality in which the special conservator of the peace is authorized to serve or by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.