The Ahmaud Arbery case brought to light the dangers and inequity of citizen’s arrests. While jogging through his neighborhood, two white men suspected Arbery of burglary with little evidence except for the color of his skin. The men then murdered Arbery while attempting to perform a citizen’s arrest. Sadly, Arbery is far from the only one who has suffered this fate. Citizen’s arrests are still legal in many states, including California. The outdated law allows untrained individuals to arrest others for “public offenses,” California Penal Code section 837 states:
“A private person may arrest another:
- For a public offense committed or attempted in his/her presence.
- When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in his/her presence.
- When a felony has been in fact committed, and he or she has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.”
The law should carve out a narrow exception for trained security officers, such as store security, or neighborhood security patrol, and only after they have been trained in topics related to bias, de-escalation techniques, and limits relating to the use of force, in order to minimize the potential for abuse.
By signing this petition, you will be demanding that citizen’s arrests be made illegal. This will mean that unqualified and untrained people will be prohibited from making decisions that can endanger the lives of others under the protection of the law.