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Private Police Carry Guns and Make Arrests in Virginia

March 02, 2015  | 

More and more Virginians are obtaining police powers using a little-known provision of state law that allows private citizens to petition the courts for the authority to carry a gun, display a badge and make arrests. The number of "special conservators of the peace" — or SCOPs, as they are known — has doubled in Virginia over the past decade to roughly 750, according to state records, reports the Washington Post.

The growth is mirrored nationally in the ranks of private police, who increasingly patrol corporate campuses, neighborhoods and museums as the demand for private security has increased and police services have been cut in some places.

The trend has raised concerns in Virginia and elsewhere, because these armed officers often receive a small fraction of the training and oversight of their municipal counterparts. Arrests of private police officers and incidents involving SCOPs overstepping their authority have also raised concerns.

The Virginia legislature approved a bill Friday increasing the training and regulation of SCOPs. The private officers would now be required to train for 130 hours, up from 40 hours — less than the state requires for nail technicians, auctioneers and security guards.

SCOPs are free to call themselves "police" in Virginia, ­although the new bill would ­require court approval.

Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

kevCopAz @ 3/2/2015 9:00 PM

well, sad to say but the public gets what they pay for. These "play cops" will screw up and I hope the community that higher them and the company they work for pays the price. There is a difference between an armed citizen doing his /her community serve volunteering and a cop want to be, less then a security guard mope playing cop.

kevCopAz @ 3/2/2015 9:02 PM

Perhaps SCOP should stand for "stupid citizens obviously playing "cops. thats what they are.

captmidnight @ 3/2/2015 9:38 PM

Interesting. Wonder if this is due to Virginia being a "Commonwealth"???
Perhaps the State Constitution allows it but, Aux. Law Enforcement Officers would make them attached to some dept.
Wonder where there authority comes from?
The Court itself?

plato's playdough @ 3/3/2015 1:14 AM

From a comment on the Washing Post Link__ what a comment.

Culture has a lot to do with how many people are in jail and have become criminals. It does not matter who put them there. They committed a crime and became criminals. You have a 1 in 31 chance today to be in contact with someone who is a criminal. Depending on the neighborhood and area that can get down to 1 in 9. 7.3 million of your fellow citizens are either in jail or on parole. If you live in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas your jails have 45% of the population in prison that are not citizens. As it gets more costly, states can't keep up it is certain you will have more criminals living next door. When this happens you can either protect yourself and your family or rely on the police. Keep in mind they will not be there to save you from the crime. You can take some solace that they maybe be able to put your attackers in jail after you are dead. There are not enough of them and not enough time to worry about you.

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