Stop Citizen's Arrest! - No More Ahmaud Arbery Tragedies!

Stop Citizen's Arrest! - No More Ahmaud Arbery Tragedies!

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Tim Westley started this petition to President Donald J. Trump and

Considering what has taken place with the Ahmaud Arbery case in Georgia, the issues with Citizen’s Arrest which are allowable throughout the United States, have surfaced.   We must stop Citizen’s Arrest, an atiquated practice originating in England during the medieval period with the Statute of Winchester in 1285, eventually emerging in the United States is antiquated. 

Citizen’s Arrest no longer needed and a dangerous practice that must be abolished throughout our nation.  The potential abuses associated with citizen’s arrest outweigh its uses.  They must end throughout America because: 

  • Power in the hands of untrained citizens can lead to disastrous results, not only for the arrestor, but also for the arrestee.
  • They lead to taking the law into the hands of citizens, often with unfortunate results for them and those they are trying to arrest.
  • They can go to far and promoted violent vigilantism, leading to unnecessary deaths.
  • Private citizens face liability for false arrests.

Outside of a few exceptions, Citizen's Arrest should be abolished in the United States.  If states choose to operate within those exceptions, citizens should be trained properly with oversight and accountability.

If states desire to continue allowing Citizen’s Arrest, they must follow the lead of a state like Virginia who recognized and standardized the role of non-traditional actors in law enforcement.  They established the legal designation of “Special Conservator of the Peace” (“SCOP”) to grant legal authority to private actors and, most importantly, to make them accountable to the public. The following standards apply:

1. Citizens or legal aliens at least eighteen years of age must apply to their local circuit courts for approval.

2. Must meet several requirements before they can be appointed as a SCOP.

3. Must complete 130 training hours.

4. Must register with the Department of Criminal Justice Services for fingerprinting, drug testing, and background checks.

5. Must get approval order from a judge stating that the SCOP has “all the powers, functions, duties, responsibilities and authority of any other conservator of the peace,” and defines the jurisdiction a SCOP can carry out an arrest.

6. SCOPs must have a monitoring apparatus in place.

7. SCOPs must have a grievance board established to address complaints of abusive conduct.

The SCOP training includes a basic overview of criminal law, specifying the elements of certain crimes; Virginia law and regulations regarding SCOPs; proper firearm and shotgun handling; and the use of deadly force.   SCOP is permitted to wear badges and uniforms displaying the title “police” upon getting permission from the courts.

Such action allows the continuation of some type of Citizens Arrest by individuals train to do so.  It helps fight against the potential for vigilante justice and holds individuals at a higher level of accountability.

Allowing an outdated function such as Citizen's Arrest in the United States does not make us safer, but likely places more citizens in harms way, even when the intent may be good and just. 


Dr. Tim Westley

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