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Virginia conservators have police powers, raise questions in the Washington area

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Derechos Donating Member (892 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-27-11 11:45 AM
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Virginia conservators have police powers, raise questions in the Washington area
As a Foggy Bottom resident, area entertainment executive and chairman of the Districts alcohol control board, Charles Brodsky seemed an unlikely candidate to become a Virginia law enforcement officer.

But in October, an Alexandria judge signed a three-page order appointing Brodsky a special conservator of the peace, giving him the authority to make arrests without a warrant, direct traffic, use flashing red and white police lights, and carry a gun on duty.

The archaic Virginia designation aims to create a shadow police force to beef up security on behalf of private companies. But on May 28, Brodsky was arrested and charged with impersonating an officer after two D.C. officers spotted him removing police lights and a placard from the dash of his car, which was parked illegally in Adams Morgan.

Brodsky has pleaded not guilty. But his arrest highlights what critics contend is a flawed program that permits hundreds of special conservators, many armed, to operate in a shadowy space between private security and public police. Although many states have similar hybrid programs called special police, Virginias conservators have among the broadest police powers they are often allowed to work on public property with only minimal mandatory training.
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