The Proper Term for This is Good Police Work

Neighbors using their guns to protect neighbors from crime are simply doing good police work.

police work

One might call this “vigilante justice” but that would be a mistake. It is simply self-protection that was at work in this incident reported by the Daily Mail: “CITIZENS’ ARREST: Moment burglarized family ‘captured intruders at gunpoint after passing them in the street as they were on the way back from ANOTHER break-in’

The victims of a burglary captured their alleged intruders after spotting them in the street – on the way back from another break-in.

The Wyatt family’s surveillance system filmed the moment a woman and two men took two TVs and numerous Christmas presents from their home in Warrior, Alabama, last Friday.

Just two days later, Chris Wyatt spotted the suspects’ Ford Ranger pickup truck driving down a road and swerved to block them into a corner.

Mr Wyatt, his wife Sarah, and two other relatives ordered them out of the car – apparently full of stolen goods – and held them at gunpoint until police arrived.

If you are thinking this is “vigilante justice,” I believe you are mistaken. The existence of the police is premised on the right of a community to police itself. The police aren’t supposed to have special powers or rights. They are supposed to be paid full time to do what every citizen has the power to do. That’s where terms like “citizen’s arrest” originate.

So the proper term for this should be “good police work.”  Citizens stepped up and stopped crime in their community. They did not go outside the law and they did not inflict personal vengeance.

In the wake of outrage over various deaths that seem (!) to have been needlessly inflicted by police, I’ve read some people defend the police by claiming that without them we would be torn apart by criminals. But why would that be so. The people can and should protect themselves from criminals. That can include a publicly-funded group of police, but it doesn’t always have to do so.

Remember, in several areas in the U.S. there are or have been private groups providing law enforcement services alongside the police. The police are not occupying soldiers who have authority over the rest of us as civilians. They are simply public employees paid to exercise the same duties that all of us possess.