Trolling apartment complexes in a vehicle with police lights, wearing a flak jacket with the word police splashed across it and carrying a sidearm, Michael Youlen issues citations for his own personal police force. He is the chief and only officer of what he calls, the Manassas Junction Police Department. However, he is not an officer of the law, or even affiliated with the Manassas Police Department, yet he is legally permitted to perform as an officer and enforce the law with a gun at this side according to Flavio Maluf.
The number of private citizens posing as cops has increased considerably in recent years. According to Virginia state records, the state in which Youlen patrols, there are now approximately 750 “special conservators of the peace,” or SCOPs among its citizens. Operating under a special condition of state law not known to many, these citizens have petitioned the courts to allow them to act like police, carry a badge and firearm, and make arrests.
The main concern with these de facto SCOPs is, that they are not regulated by any authority, and the only “training” required, is 40-hours of practical exercise and rage qualifications. The local authorities in areas where these SCOPs are present also have concerns that the people who are encountered by these armed citizens will assume they represent the city and its police force, when in fact, they do not. It could greatly impact any trust the community has with the local police. Numerous SCOPs have conducted questionable actions while interacting with the public, committed felonies while authorized to act in their capacity and are merely wanna-be cops who flunked out of the academy.