Service of Citizen’s Arrest

January 25th, 2018

Categories: Annoying, Audacity, Bicycles, Complaints, Courtesy, Driving, Laws, Police, Road Rage, Self Restraint, Subway, Thinking of Others, Traffic

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said out loud, sometimes to no one in particular “I wish I could make a citizen’s arrest!” When I told my husband the subject of this post he suggested I check out just what this would entail, “because,” he added, “everyone uses that expression and they may not know.”

So a quick detour before I share my targets. According to, in a Breaches of the Peace section: “In general, people can’t use citizen’s arrests for misdemeanors unless the misdemeanor involves a breach of the peace. Even in these circumstances, however, individuals can only make arrests when they have personally witnessed the criminal behavior and the breach has just occurred or there is a strong likelihood that the breach will continue.”

In its conclusion: “Every individual is empowered to arrest wrongdoers in certain circumstances, but individuals looking to make a citizens arrest act at their own risk. Not only is the act of apprehending a criminal inherently dangerous, but failure to meet the legal requirements for a citizens arrest could have devastating consequences for the person making the arrest.”

I trust that you don’t take me literally and that you realize I write out of exasperation. It’s helpful to let off steam once in a while in a benign way and not make life miserable for others as some of my fellow citizens are prone to do.

The most recent affront that awoke the policewoman in me was made by a delivery truck driver for a well known brand who leaned on his horn when there was nothing the vehicles in front of him could do to move out of his way. Nobody was walking in front of him; no car was cutting him off, yet he polluted the air and turned the time we all shared with him on that street into earsplitting misery.

Joining him on my hit list are the

***selfish subway passengers who won’t let me either in or out of a train

***bicyclists who miss me by a hair when they are driving in the wrong direction, zooming past me against the light or whisking past me on the sidewalk

***impatient drivers who ignore oncoming pedestrian traffic and swerve into avenue or street while endangering all those crossing an avenue

***bus drivers who use their airbrakes with abandon even when they know incoming passengers, some frail, aren’t yet holding on or settled in seats. Note: In some busses it’s quite a distance between the MetroCard fare collecting machine and strap or seat.

***drivers who won’t pull over and stop for an ambulance to pass: Don’t they realize their sister, mother, child, spouse or nephew might one day be inside?

An arrest for the following infractions would be too harsh—maybe I’d just give a warning for

***people who bump into me and don’t apologize

***elevator passengers who let the door slam in my face or who don’t offer to hit my floor when my hands are full

Are there infractions or violations to living in crowded places in a civilized way that you would hit with a citizen’s arrest or warning if you could?

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8 Responses to “Service of Citizen’s Arrest”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    However, perhaps obviously, people don’t want to be corrected. In the past when I thought I made “helpful“ suggestions, they were roundly rejected in not the kindest of words. Sometimes it is better to not say anything. Such as a mother almost abusing her child in a supermarket situation. One must remember that one is not the social police… Difficult as that may be for some of us to remember! Great topic.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    One of the fun things about comments to my posts is to see where it takes readers like you. You took a tack I didn’t consider. I’ve had to clamp my mouth shut when I’ve seen a little child smacked by an over-stressed parent for doing nothing more than trying to stand on a subway seat to look out the window. You make a valid point. That truck driver would have only shrieked at me, had he been able to hear me over his air horn, had a said anything.

  3. CG Said:

    How about the people for whom you hold open a door, and they fail to muster a simple thank you? Or people who try to cut ahead of you on line by pretending they didn’t see you? I’ve been known to wonder aloud, “Am I invisible?” Then there are the people who leave their garbage cans at the curb (I live in the ‘burbs) for a day or two after pickup. I make allowances for elderly or infirm residents, but to the rest I want to say: Stop being so lazy!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    OH MY. How could I have left off so many things on my list? We live on a country road and people leave their ugly plastic garbage cans on this otherwise bucolic place 24/7 and it drives me nuts. None are elderly or infirm. True, their front doors are far from the road, but many build wood houses for their cans that fit in nicely among the trees but they don’t.

    And people who cut in front of me in line? GRRRRRRR. This happens all over the world all over the place.

    We worked in a building filled with sweet young things who NEVER thanked if you held open the door even if you waited for them to walk up the street with a tray full of Starbucks coffees. My office mates and I each did it only once for that crew and we all said loudly, “You’re welcome!” which clearly had no impact. As one of my friends says, “May they live and be well” to which I add, “and may they be rude to the wrong person when it matters, the only thing that might filter through their entitled brains.”

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Absolutely not. Citizen’s arrests should be reserved for preventing crime, not punishing someone for the very errors most of us make at one time or another. What ever happened to the Golden Rule?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Guess you’ve never thought, “I’d like to strangle so and so,” even if you’ve never put your finger on so much as a bug? You may have missed that I wrote: “I trust that you don’t take me literally and that you realize I write out of exasperation.”

    However, on the subject of almost running people over, whether car driver filled with road rage or bicyclist feeling his/her oats and not caring a wit about pedestrians, it could become a crime and it could kill someone and these drivers should be stopped. There aren’t enough law enforcement people to do so.

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    This is a very timely post and I agree with the dislike and criticism of all the behavior listed as well as the varying degrees of gravity attributed to them.

    I can share your feelings of wishing that there could be intervention such as citizen’s arrest as a manner of speaking or of thinking to alleviate frustration fear and despair. In real life, however, I can only wish that polite manners which in general serve as a political measure designed to reduce confusion and dangers in real daily living were more prevalent, as well as a social consciousness that was more aware of cause and effect and collective responsibility.

    At the present our country’s chief executive and his style of ruling are diametrically opposed to this kind of thinking. The possibility for citizens to actually make arrests also unfortunately would lead to even more conflict, confusion, overrule of civil rights and violence. It best remain wishful thinking. I wish the prevalent epidemic of ridiculous false morality and total self-absorption could give way to concern with civic responsibility

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You are right–there would be chaos. Wishful thinking. As you note, the selfishness coming from the top has added to the overwhelming ME ME ME attitude in the land that was already in place before his election because those with empathy–there but for the grace of God go I–could hardly vote for such a person. Fooling with the dreamer’s lives, playing TV-like reality games with dates they might or might not be able to stay in this country, is an example of a person who does not think of the impact of words or actions on others. And it is that we’re missing, whether it’s the stressed out truck driver who blows out our ears with incessant honking and doesn’t care about those around him or the angry cab driver racing around a corner on two wheels with no thought of a pedestrian possibly crossing in his/her way. A sad state.

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