SB1165: Conservators of peace, special; strikes provision that they have authority in any city or county.

SENATE BILL NO. 1165
Offered January 10, 2007
Prefiled January 10, 2007
A BILL to amend and reenact § 19.2-13 of the Code of Virginia, relating to special conservators of the peace; jurisdiction.
Patrons-- Stolle, Howell and Norment; Delegates: Albo, Kilgore and Moran

Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1.  That § 19.2-13 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 19.2-13. Special conservators of the peace; authority; jurisdiction; registration; bond; liability of employers; penalty; report.

A. Upon the application of any sheriff or chief of police of any county, city, town or any corporation authorized to do business in the Commonwealth or the owner, proprietor or authorized custodian of any place within the Commonwealth and the showing of a necessity for the security of property or the peace, a circuit court judge of any county or city, in his discretion, may appoint one or more special conservators of the peace who shall serve as such for such length of time as the court may designate, but not exceeding four years under any one appointment. The order of appointment may provide that a special conservator of the peace shall have all the powers, functions, duties, responsibilities and authority of any other conservator of the peace within such geographical limitations as the court may deem appropriate within the confines of the county, city or town that makes application or within the county, city or town where the corporate applicant is located, limited to the judicial circuit wherein application has been made, whenever such special conservator of the peace is engaged in the performance of his duties as such. The order may also provide 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. The order may also provide that the special conservator of the peace may use the title "police" on any badge or uniform worn in the performance of his duties as such. The order may also provide that a special conservator of the peace who has completed the minimum training standards established by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, 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. The order also may (i) require the local sheriff or chief of police to conduct a background investigation which may include a review of the applicant's school records, employment records, or interviews with persons possessing general knowledge of the applicant's character and fitness for such appointment and (ii) limit the use of flashing lights and sirens on personal vehicles used by the conservator in the performance of his duties. Prior to granting an application for appointment, the circuit court shall ensure that the applicant has met the registration requirements established by the Criminal Justice Services Board.

B. Effective September 15, 2004, no person shall seek appointment as a special conservator of the peace from a circuit court judge without possessing a valid registration issued by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, except as provided in this section. Applicants for registration may submit an application on or after January 1, 2004. A temporary registration may be issued in accordance with regulations established by the Criminal Justice Services Board while awaiting the results of a state and national fingerprint search. However, no person shall be issued a temporary registration until he has (i) complied with, or been exempted from the compulsory minimum training standards as set forth in this section, (ii) submitted his fingerprints on a form provided by the Department to be used for the conduct of a national criminal records search and a Virginia criminal history records search, and (iii) met all other requirements of this article and Board regulations. No person with a criminal conviction for a misdemeanor involving (a) moral turpitude, (b) assault and battery, (c) damage to real or personal property, (d) controlled substances or imitation controlled substances as defined in Article 1 (§ 18.2-247 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2, (e) prohibited sexual behavior as described in Article 7 (§ 18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2, (f) firearms, or (g) any felony, shall be registered as a special conservator of the peace. All appointments for special conservators of the peace shall become void on September 15, 2004, unless they have obtained a valid registration issued by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

C. Each person registered as or seeking registration as a special conservator of the peace shall be covered by (i) a cash bond, or a surety bond executed by a surety company authorized to do business in the Commonwealth, in a reasonable amount to be fixed by the Board, not to be less than $10,000, conditioned upon the faithful and honest conduct of his business or employment; or (ii) evidence of a policy of liability insurance or self-insurance in an amount and with coverage as fixed by the Board. Any person who is aggrieved by the misconduct of any person registered as a special conservator of the peace and recovers a judgment against the registrant, which is unsatisfied in whole or in part, may bring an action in his own name against the bond or insurance policy of the registrant.

D. Individuals listed in § 19.2-12, individuals who have complied with or been exempted pursuant to subsection A of § 9.1-141, individuals employed as law-enforcement officers as defined in § 9.1-101 who have met the minimum qualifications set forth in § 15.2-1705 shall be exempt from the requirements in subsections A through C. Further, individuals appointed under subsection A and employed by a private corporation or entity that meets the requirements of subdivision (ii) of the definition of criminal justice agency in § 9.1-101, shall be exempt from the registration requirements of subsection A and from subsections B and C provided they have met the minimum qualifications set forth in § 15.2-1705. The Department of Criminal Justice Services shall, upon request by the circuit court, provide evidence to the circuit court of such employment prior to appointing an individual special conservator of the peace. The employing agency shall notify the circuit court within 30 days after the date such individual has left employment and all powers of the special conservator of the peace shall be void. Failure to provide such notification shall be punishable by a fine of $250 plus an additional $50 per day for each day such notice is not provided.

E. When the application is made, the circuit court shall specify in the order of appointment the name of the sheriff or chief of police of the applicant county, city, town or the name of the corporation and the geographic jurisdiction of the special conservator of the peace. Court appointments shall be limited to the judicial circuit wherein application has been made and to those cities and counties wherein the corporate applicant or its subsidiary holds title to real property. Effective July 1, 2004, the clerk of the appointing circuit court shall transmit a copy of the order of appointment that shall specify the following information: the person's complete name, address, date of birth, social security number, gender, race, height, weight, color of hair, color of eyes, firearm authority or limitation as set forth in subsection F, date of the order, and other information as may be required by the Department of State Police. The Department of State Police shall enter the person's name and other information into the Virginia Criminal Information Network established and maintained by the Department pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 52-12 et seq.) of Title 52. The Department of State Police may charge a fee not to exceed $10 to cover its costs associated with processing these orders. Each special conservator of the peace so appointed on application shall present his credentials to the chief of police or sheriff or his designee of the jurisdiction. Each special conservator shall provide a temporary registration letter issued by the Department of Criminal Justice Services prior to seeking an appointment by the circuit court. Once the applicant receives the appointment from the circuit court the applicant shall file the appointment order with the Department of Criminal Justice Services in order to receive his special conservator of the peace photo registration card.

If any such special conservator of the peace is the employee, agent or servant of another, his appointment as special conservator of the peace shall not relieve his employer, principal or master, from civil liability to another arising out of any wrongful action or conduct committed by such special conservator of the peace while within the scope of his employment.

Effective July 1, 2002, no person employed by a local school board as a school security officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, shall be eligible for appointment as a conservator for purposes of maintaining safety in a public school in the Commonwealth. All appointments of special conservators of the peace granted to school security officers as defined in § 9.1-101 prior to July 1, 2002 are void.

F. The court may limit or prohibit the carrying of weapons by any special conservator of the peace initially appointed on or after July 1, 1996, while the appointee is within the scope of his employment as such.