By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
Citizen Arrest is a law enforcement term used when a citizen arrests an
individual for a misdemeanor crime not committed in an officer’s presence.
Most cops hate citizen arrests. We like to make our own arrests. We prefer
to hunt elephants commonly known as serious offenders, like murder, robbery and rape.
During the hours that I worked (midnight to 8 AM), where I spent most of my career, we seldom had to deal with citizen arrests. We were free to track down a pachyderm.
Now, Hollywood had more than their share of businesses that had shoplift
details. Sears, Zody’s (Remember Zody’s?), Save-on. Most of these had
competent theft detection employees. They didn’t call us until they had arrested the suspect and completed the arrest report. We also had an agreement that they wouldn’t call us unless the shoplifted dollar amount was over $35. Didn’t want to tie up two cops for hours on a $2.00 crime.
Every once in a while, a private security guard would make an arrest and call
us to take his arrest. That meant no arrest report and usually a minor
offense. There was a Hispanic bar on La Brea that hired a new security
guard. He arrested a patron for a minor battery and called us. He hadn’t written a report, and his arrestee need medical attention. We spent the next four hours cleaning up his arrest. No elephants that night.
After a few more arrests by the same security guard, we decided to move him up to the Zody’s class. One night, we arrived at the bar on another citizen arrest. We told the security guard to get his car keys. When he inquired, “¿Por que?” (Spanish for “Why?”) I answered, “Because you’re going to write the arrest report.”
Now, English was a second language to this poor guy. After two attempts at writing a report, it was evident that writing English was also new to him.
I felt like an English teacher but after a few hours he completed the arrest report. Funny, the bar closed an hour before he finished.
Another strange thing: we never had another citizen arrest call to that bar.