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Thread: Can a security guard legally handcuff someone?

  1. #1
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    Can a security guard legally handcuff someone?

    I was just wondering if Security Guards, whether they work for a law enforcement agency, or a private company, or work somewhere like a mall, are at any time allowed to handcuff someone until police arrive? If so, under what circumstances? For instance if there was a fight and someone continues to fight with security, would they be allowed to handcuff them until Police arrived?

    I'm just wondering because I always see mall security and such carrying handcuffs, and I know security doesn't have any law enforcement powers. Thanks.
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    By where I work, some department stores cuff and hold shoplifters til we come to pick them up and process them.
    "There's only two kinds of people who walk slow in this city... Us and them."

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    It depends on the situation. If someone has committed a breach of the peace or a felony in the view of the security guard, they have the legal right in the state of Texas to arrest the person. Then again, any other citizen in the state has the exact same right.

    A rent-a-cop has to be extremely careful about putting cuffs on people though. If they put cuffs on someone for something stupid, they could very well be filed upon for unlawful restraint, a misdemeanor unless the person restrained is under the age of 17, in which it is a felony. Unless you are a LEO acting under power given by the law, be VERY VERY careful about who put put cuffs on. The fuzzy kind doesn't necessarily count.
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    Security guard can make a citizens arrest like anyone else. They are to turn the detainee over to an officer. I might let them sign a misdemeanor citation. I believe they are allowed to use reasonable force not including deadly force to detain someone. Now this is all from my state and it could be changed since last time I cared enough to look it up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IMPD220 View Post
    FOLLOW UP QUESTION:

    So, can any citizen put a subject in cuffs until police arrive?
    In my neck of the woods, yes they can...they would still be liable for any civil/criminal damages that may occur should they make a mistake.
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    When I used to be a store detective, we cuffed shoplifters. No officers ever gave us a hard time over it.
    A few suspects did but that's tough. They would complain to the police, who told them also to shut up.
    If you are thinking about keeping a pair of handcuffs with you I advise against cuffing people and making citizens arrests. Any decent officer on this board will tell you the same thing. You are only looking for problems.

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    Non Security: Don't cuff for a Citizens Arrest. It's not worth the lawsuit that you are going to face, even if you are right. Of course, if you grab Bin Laden, go ahead and cuff him. Punch him in the mouth, too. Hell, sit on him and **** on him.

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    The following is based on research I've done in college (about 6 years ago) on the private security industry.

    Most states allow, to some degree, a private person to make a citizens arrest. Private security officers and gaurds are also private persons. All the states I've researched have shoplifting laws that allow merchants or their agents to detain suspected shoplifters under state laws and hold them for law enforcement. Private security officers, loss prevention or store detectives and other employees are agents of the merchant. Therefore they may detain shoplifter and hold them for law enforcement. At this point is were some states differ in their shoplifting laws. For example GA and FL allow the merchants or their agents to investigate to dispell any suspicions. This may include searching bags for the merchant's property. CA doesn't allow merchants or their agents to search bags but may other wise detain a shoplifter. CA is also the only state I know of that applied the exclussionary rule to private person searches. FL also has a resisting a merchant charge in their statutes and allows farmers to detain subjects stealing their produce.
    Most states also give limited liability protection to merchants and their agents against false arrest claims when their actions were otherwise reasonable.
    In atleast one state, private security officers are said to "stand in the shoes of the sheriff" (can't remember which state it was from). Most states grant some police powers to some classes of private security officers. Those security officers are often refered to as commisioned security officers, special police or special officers. However their law enforcement powers are restricted to the properties they are assigned to protect and only when they are on duty. If that's not enough, some states (and under some federal laws) have private police. Their police powers and jurisdictions vary from state to state. So yes private security in some situations may legaly and physically handcuff others.
    Last edited by westside popo; 12-05-2009 at 12:31 PM.
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    Its going to vary from state to state, but probably. Look up citizen's arrest and shopkeeper's rights for your state.

    That said, company polices and the fear of lawsuits usually dictates handcuffing policy more than legal restrictions.

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    In South Carolina, a SLED licensed security guard has the same powers as a deputy sheriff ON THE PROPERTY IN WHICH THEY PROTECT and no where else. This means, they can do more than just handcuff and detain; they may also arrest. I've seen some gated communities in South Carolina that have their own Security that acts like a small police department. They do police reports, write citations from the state's uniform traffic citation, and sign warrants. Only reason they aren't police officers is because their employers are property owner associations, not municipal governments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SC_Lawman View Post
    In South Carolina, a SLED licensed security guard has the same powers as a deputy sheriff ON THE PROPERTY IN WHICH THEY PROTECT and no where else. This means, they can do more than just handcuff and detain; they may also arrest. I've seen some gated communities in South Carolina that have their own Security that acts like a small police department. They do police reports, write citations from the state's uniform traffic citation, and sign warrants. Only reason they aren't police officers is because their employers are property owner associations, not municipal governments.
    Wow, very interesting. Are they armed?
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    In MN they certainly can.



    A lot of times we arrive and they have already arrested and cuffed someone. We transport the arrested party to the jail after the security guard completes a Citizen's Arrest form.

    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by SC_Lawman View Post
    In South Carolina, a SLED licensed security guard has the same powers as a deputy sheriff ON THE PROPERTY IN WHICH THEY PROTECT and no where else. This means, they can do more than just handcuff and detain; they may also arrest. I've seen some gated communities in South Carolina that have their own Security that acts like a small police department. They do police reports, write citations from the state's uniform traffic citation, and sign warrants. Only reason they aren't police officers is because their employers are property owner associations, not municipal governments.
    I thought it was one of the Carolinas, just couldn't remember which one.
    Last edited by westside popo; 12-06-2009 at 03:56 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by westside popo View Post
    Most states grant some police powers to some classes of private security officers. Those security officers are often refered to as commisioned security officers, special police or special officers. However their law enforcement powers are restricted to the properties they are assigned to protect and only when they are on duty
    In Texas, the only difference between a non-commissioned security officer and a commissioned security officer is that the commissioned had the authority to carry a sidearm while at work (or going directly from home to work, then back directly home from work). That's the one and only difference.

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    Since you are from Cali, here are some relevant laws from the Penal Code;

    835. An arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person, or by
    submission to the custody of an officer. The person arrested may be
    subjected to such restraint as is reasonable for his arrest and
    detention.

    837. A private person may arrest another:
    1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.
    2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not
    in his presence.
    3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable
    cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

    839. Any person making an arrest may orally summon as many persons
    as he deems necessary to aid him therein.


    844. To make an arrest, a private person, if the offense is a
    felony, and in all cases a peace officer, may break open the door or
    window of the house in which the person to be arrested is, or in
    which they have reasonable grounds for believing the person to be,
    after having demanded admittance and explained the purpose for which
    admittance is desired.



    845. Any person who has lawfully entered a house for the purpose of
    making an arrest, may break open the door or window thereof if
    detained therein, when necessary for the purpose of liberating
    himself, and an officer may do the same, when necessary for the
    purpose of liberating a person who, acting in his aid, lawfully
    entered for the purpose of making an arrest, and is detained therein.



    846. Any person making an arrest may take from the person arrested
    all offensive weapons which he may have about his person, and must
    deliver them to the magistrate before whom he is taken.

    and from 490.5
    (f) (1) A merchant may detain a person for a reasonable time for
    the purpose of conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner
    whenever the merchant has probable cause to believe the person to be
    detained is attempting to unlawfully take or has unlawfully taken
    merchandise from the merchant's premises.
    A theater owner may detain a person for a reasonable time for the
    purpose of conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner
    whenever the theater owner has probable cause to believe the person
    to be detained is attempting to operate a video recording device
    within the premises of a motion picture theater without the authority
    of the owner of the theater.
    A person employed by a library facility may detain a person for a
    reasonable time for the purpose of conducting an investigation in a
    reasonable manner whenever the person employed by a library facility
    has probable cause to believe the person to be detained is attempting
    to unlawfully remove or has unlawfully removed books or library
    materials from the premises of the library facility.
    (2) In making the detention a merchant, theater owner, or a person
    employed by a library facility may use a reasonable amount of
    nondeadly force necessary to protect himself or herself and to
    prevent escape of the person detained or the loss of tangible or
    intangible property.
    (3) During the period of detention any items which a merchant or
    theater owner, or any items which a person employed by a library
    facility has probable cause to believe are unlawfully taken from the
    premises of the merchant or library facility, or recorded on theater
    premises, and which are in plain view may be examined by the
    merchant, theater owner, or person employed by a library facility for
    the purposes of ascertaining the ownership thereof.
    (4) A merchant, theater owner, a person employed by a library
    facility, or an agent thereof, having probable cause to believe the
    person detained was attempting to unlawfully take or has taken any
    item from the premises, or was attempting to operate a video
    recording device within the premises of a motion picture theater
    without the authority of the owner of the theater, may request the
    person detained to voluntarily surrender the item or recording.
    Should the person detained refuse to surrender the recording or item
    of which there is probable cause to believe has been recorded on or
    unlawfully taken from the premises, or attempted to be recorded or
    unlawfully taken from the premises, a limited and reasonable search
    may be conducted by those authorized to make the detention in order
    to recover the item. Only packages, shopping bags, handbags or other
    property in the immediate possession of the person detained, but not
    including any clothing worn by the person, may be searched pursuant
    to this subdivision. Upon surrender or discovery of the item, the
    person detained may also be requested, but may not be required, to
    provide adequate proof of his or her true identity.
    (5) If any person admitted to a theater in which a motion picture
    is to be or is being exhibited, refuses or fails to give or surrender
    possession or to cease operation of any video recording device that
    the person has brought into or attempts to bring into that theater,
    then a theater owner shall have the right to refuse admission to that
    person or request that the person leave the premises and shall
    thereupon offer to refund and, unless that offer is refused, refund
    to that person the price paid by that person for admission to that
    theater. If the person thereafter refuses to leave the theater or
    cease operation of the video recording device, then the person shall
    be deemed to be intentionally interfering with and obstructing those
    attempting to carry on a lawful business within the meaning of
    Section 602.1.
    (6) A peace officer who accepts custody of a person arrested for
    an offense contained in this section may, subsequent to the arrest,
    search the person arrested and his or her immediate possessions for
    any item or items alleged to have been taken.
    (7) In any civil action brought by any person resulting from a
    detention or arrest by a merchant, it shall be a defense to such
    action that the merchant detaining or arresting such person had
    probable cause to believe that the person had stolen or attempted to
    steal merchandise and that the merchant acted reasonably under all
    the circumstances.
    In any civil action brought by any person resulting from a
    detention or arrest by a theater owner or person employed by a
    library facility, it shall be a defense to that action that the
    theater owner or person employed by a library facility detaining or
    arresting that person had probable cause to believe that the person
    was attempting to operate a video recording device within the
    premises of a motion picture theater without the authority of the
    owner of the theater or had stolen or attempted to steal books or
    library materials and that the person employed by a library facility
    acted reasonably under all the circumstances.
    (g) As used in this section:
    (1) "Merchandise" means any personal property, capable of manual
    delivery, displayed, held or offered for retail sale by a merchant.
    (2) "Merchant" means an owner or operator, and the agent,
    consignee, employee, lessee, or officer of an owner or operator, of
    any premises used for the retail purchase or sale of any personal
    property capable of manual delivery.
    (3) "Theater owner" means an owner or operator, and the agent,
    employee, consignee, lessee, or officer of an owner or operator, of
    any premises used for the exhibition or performance of motion
    pictures to the general public.
    (4) The terms "book or other library materials" include any book,
    plate, picture, photograph, engraving, painting, drawing, map,
    newspaper, magazine, pamphlet, broadside, manuscript, document,
    letter, public record, microform, sound recording, audiovisual
    material in any format, magnetic or other tape, electronic
    data-processing record, artifact, or other documentary, written or
    printed material regardless of physical form or characteristics, or
    any part thereof, belonging to, on loan to, or otherwise in the
    custody of a library facility.
    (5) The term "library facility" includes any public library; any
    library of an educational, historical or eleemosynary institution,
    organization or society; any museum; any repository of public
    records.
    (h) Any library facility shall post at its entrance and exit a
    conspicuous sign to read as follows:

    "IN ORDER TO PREVENT THE THEFT OF BOOKS AND LIBRARY MATERIALS,
    STATE LAW AUTHORIZES THE DETENTION FOR A REASONABLE PERIOD OF ANY
    PERSON USING THESE FACILITIES SUSPECTED OF COMMITTING "LIBRARY THEFT"
    (PENAL CODE SECTION 490.5)."
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    Quote Originally Posted by District B 13 View Post
    Non Security: Don't cuff for a Citizens Arrest. It's not worth the lawsuit that you are going to face, even if you are right. Of course, if you grab Bin Laden, go ahead and cuff him. Punch him in the mouth, too. Hell, sit on him and **** on him.
    All persons in TN can arrest for misdemeanors committed in their presence or when PC for a felony exists (or felony occurs in their presence). Prior to law enforcement, I often handcuffed shoplifters who I believed were a safety threat when I worked loss prevention. I was making a citizens arrest and using the appropriate tools at my disposal to do so. They were cuffed and detained until law enforcement arrived and I signed as prosecutor on the misdm citation or warrant if it was necessary for a custodial arrest. Now you don't see everday persons going around and cuffing people for misdm crimes for obvious reasons. They are required to have the training, know criminal laws, laws of arrest, and other things that don't get them in hot water. Besides that, who wants to walk around and put themselves at risk for no money! I was paid as LP to detect store loss and act on it. I am paid as a LEO to detect crimes and act on them. Off-duty, even with the amount of training and knowledge I have, I'm not going to act unless I absolutely have to.

    Uniformed security or LP are nothing more than citizens making arrests to protect the interests of the property they're assigned to.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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    Quote Originally Posted by OCEnforcer29 View Post
    I was just wondering if Security Guards, whether they work for a law enforcement agency, or a private company, or work somewhere like a mall, are at any time allowed to handcuff someone until police arrive? If so, under what circumstances? For instance if there was a fight and someone continues to fight with security, would they be allowed to handcuff them until Police arrived?

    I'm just wondering because I always see mall security and such carrying handcuffs, and I know security doesn't have any law enforcement powers. Thanks.
    I see your are in California. The answer is yes, provided that the Security Guard is making a private person's arrest of the individual in question. (Security Guards do not have police powers in California.)

    Section 837 of the California Penal Code allows a private person to arrest another individual under a number of circumstances.

    Section 835 of the California Penal Code states that an arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person. It also says the person arrested may be subjected to such restraint as is reasonable for his arrest and detention. This includes the use of handcuffs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdrdep View Post
    Since you are from Cali, here are some relevant laws from the Penal Code;

    835. An arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person, or by
    submission to the custody of an officer. The person arrested may be
    subjected to such restraint as is reasonable for his arrest and
    detention.

    837. A private person may arrest another:
    1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.
    2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not
    in his presence.
    3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable
    cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

    839. Any person making an arrest may orally summon as many persons
    as he deems necessary to aid him therein.


    844. To make an arrest, a private person, if the offense is a
    felony, and in all cases a peace officer, may break open the door or
    window of the house in which the person to be arrested is, or in
    which they have reasonable grounds for believing the person to be,
    after having demanded admittance and explained the purpose for which
    admittance is desired.



    845. Any person who has lawfully entered a house for the purpose of
    making an arrest, may break open the door or window thereof if
    detained therein, when necessary for the purpose of liberating
    himself, and an officer may do the same, when necessary for the
    purpose of liberating a person who, acting in his aid, lawfully
    entered for the purpose of making an arrest, and is detained therein.



    846. Any person making an arrest may take from the person arrested
    all offensive weapons which he may have about his person, and must
    deliver them to the magistrate before whom he is taken.

    and from 490.5
    (f) (1) A merchant may detain a person for a reasonable time for
    the purpose of conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner
    whenever the merchant has probable cause to believe the person to be
    detained is attempting to unlawfully take or has unlawfully taken
    merchandise from the merchant's premises.
    A theater owner may detain a person for a reasonable time for the
    purpose of conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner
    whenever the theater owner has probable cause to believe the person
    to be detained is attempting to operate a video recording device
    within the premises of a motion picture theater without the authority
    of the owner of the theater.
    A person employed by a library facility may detain a person for a
    reasonable time for the purpose of conducting an investigation in a
    reasonable manner whenever the person employed by a library facility
    has probable cause to believe the person to be detained is attempting
    to unlawfully remove or has unlawfully removed books or library
    materials from the premises of the library facility.
    (2) In making the detention a merchant, theater owner, or a person
    employed by a library facility may use a reasonable amount of
    nondeadly force necessary to protect himself or herself and to
    prevent escape of the person detained or the loss of tangible or
    intangible property.
    (3) During the period of detention any items which a merchant or
    theater owner, or any items which a person employed by a library
    facility has probable cause to believe are unlawfully taken from the
    premises of the merchant or library facility, or recorded on theater
    premises, and which are in plain view may be examined by the
    merchant, theater owner, or person employed by a library facility for
    the purposes of ascertaining the ownership thereof.
    (4) A merchant, theater owner, a person employed by a library
    facility, or an agent thereof, having probable cause to believe the
    person detained was attempting to unlawfully take or has taken any
    item from the premises, or was attempting to operate a video
    recording device within the premises of a motion picture theater
    without the authority of the owner of the theater, may request the
    person detained to voluntarily surrender the item or recording.
    Should the person detained refuse to surrender the recording or item
    of which there is probable cause to believe has been recorded on or
    unlawfully taken from the premises, or attempted to be recorded or
    unlawfully taken from the premises, a limited and reasonable search
    may be conducted by those authorized to make the detention in order
    to recover the item. Only packages, shopping bags, handbags or other
    property in the immediate possession of the person detained, but not
    including any clothing worn by the person, may be searched pursuant
    to this subdivision. Upon surrender or discovery of the item, the
    person detained may also be requested, but may not be required, to
    provide adequate proof of his or her true identity.
    (5) If any person admitted to a theater in which a motion picture
    is to be or is being exhibited, refuses or fails to give or surrender
    possession or to cease operation of any video recording device that
    the person has brought into or attempts to bring into that theater,
    then a theater owner shall have the right to refuse admission to that
    person or request that the person leave the premises and shall
    thereupon offer to refund and, unless that offer is refused, refund
    to that person the price paid by that person for admission to that
    theater. If the person thereafter refuses to leave the theater or
    cease operation of the video recording device, then the person shall
    be deemed to be intentionally interfering with and obstructing those
    attempting to carry on a lawful business within the meaning of
    Section 602.1.
    (6) A peace officer who accepts custody of a person arrested for
    an offense contained in this section may, subsequent to the arrest,
    search the person arrested and his or her immediate possessions for
    any item or items alleged to have been taken.
    (7) In any civil action brought by any person resulting from a
    detention or arrest by a merchant, it shall be a defense to such
    action that the merchant detaining or arresting such person had
    probable cause to believe that the person had stolen or attempted to
    steal merchandise and that the merchant acted reasonably under all
    the circumstances.
    In any civil action brought by any person resulting from a
    detention or arrest by a theater owner or person employed by a
    library facility, it shall be a defense to that action that the
    theater owner or person employed by a library facility detaining or
    arresting that person had probable cause to believe that the person
    was attempting to operate a video recording device within the
    premises of a motion picture theater without the authority of the
    owner of the theater or had stolen or attempted to steal books or
    library materials and that the person employed by a library facility
    acted reasonably under all the circumstances.
    (g) As used in this section:
    (1) "Merchandise" means any personal property, capable of manual
    delivery, displayed, held or offered for retail sale by a merchant.
    (2) "Merchant" means an owner or operator, and the agent,
    consignee, employee, lessee, or officer of an owner or operator, of
    any premises used for the retail purchase or sale of any personal
    property capable of manual delivery.
    (3) "Theater owner" means an owner or operator, and the agent,
    employee, consignee, lessee, or officer of an owner or operator, of
    any premises used for the exhibition or performance of motion
    pictures to the general public.
    (4) The terms "book or other library materials" include any book,
    plate, picture, photograph, engraving, painting, drawing, map,
    newspaper, magazine, pamphlet, broadside, manuscript, document,
    letter, public record, microform, sound recording, audiovisual
    material in any format, magnetic or other tape, electronic
    data-processing record, artifact, or other documentary, written or
    printed material regardless of physical form or characteristics, or
    any part thereof, belonging to, on loan to, or otherwise in the
    custody of a library facility.
    (5) The term "library facility" includes any public library; any
    library of an educational, historical or eleemosynary institution,
    organization or society; any museum; any repository of public
    records.
    (h) Any library facility shall post at its entrance and exit a
    conspicuous sign to read as follows:

    "IN ORDER TO PREVENT THE THEFT OF BOOKS AND LIBRARY MATERIALS,
    STATE LAW AUTHORIZES THE DETENTION FOR A REASONABLE PERIOD OF ANY
    PERSON USING THESE FACILITIES SUSPECTED OF COMMITTING "LIBRARY THEFT"
    (PENAL CODE SECTION 490.5)."
    This should answer your question.
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    AS you can tell, cuffing someone is no easy matter, legally or physically. I used to have some pictures of an officer badly cut up when the outlaw broke away with only one hand cuffed, and used the open cuff like a knife.

    Plus any lawyer will claim his client suffered a soft tissue injury (does not show on X-rays) when you mis-applied the cuffs: "Hello lawsuit, Goodbye savings, house, future."

    In other words, don't use cuffs without training - no training, leave them at home.
    "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
    John Stuart Mill

  20. #20
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    You can cuff em' in Colorado. But yes, unlike the Police you incur all liability since you are not trained in handcuffing; yes believe it or not we train for weeks on how to handcuff.

  21. #21
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    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    15,830
    Quote Originally Posted by SeaShepherd View Post
    I don't mean to sound disrespectful, but your understanding of unlawful restraint is wrong. Unlawful restraint is used in the context of kidnapping. A security guard cuffing someone for a stupid reason or no reason would be a false arrest, or physically detaining people with no right to do so. Like they act under authority when they have none or the victim has done no crime. False arrest is only a civil tort and doesn't result in any charges. And police officers can be guilty of the same thing if they arrest someone for no reason.
    I suppose you realize that this thread is 4 yrs old and most of the posters aren't even active on the forum anymore.

    Also you fail to indicate who you are directing your comments to.
    BikeCop501 likes this.

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