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Conservator of the Peace

An officer of the government authorized by law to act in such a manner that will preserve and maintain the order and safety of the community and the general public.

The phrase conservator of the peace derives its meaning from its use in England during the Middle Ages. Until the reign of King Edward III, conservators of the peace were elected locally by the people. Subsequently they were appointed by the king. Among their duties were prevention of disturbances of the peace and arrest of individuals who did so. Around the year 1360, the duties of conservators of the peace were broadened by an act of Parliament to include the ARRAIGNMENT and trial of offenders. They, therefore, became known as justices of the peace.

In the U.S. legal system, a conservator of the peace is synonymous with a peace officer. A police officer, a CORONER, or a court officer may be considered a conservator of the peace.

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