ASK A COP — What are the rules of a citizen’s arrest?

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Marcus from Port Arthur asks: I started discussing citizen’s arrests during Christmas, and neither of us could factually give details about with entails a citizen the power of arrest. Could you please clear up what is a citizen’s arrest and when a citizen can arrest?

Answer: Everybody is fully aware of the power of arrest that is entrusted in police officers in the state of Texas, but the state of Texas also empowers ANY person to arrest WITHOUT a warrant. These arrests by ANY person only pertain to felonies that are committed in their presence or any crime against public peace. This tells anyone who may desire to affect a citizen’s arrest that they need to abreast themselves with the felony and misdemeanor offenses in the state of Texas. A very important element to the power of arrest by citizen is “it MUST be witnessed by the person affecting the citizen’s arrest.” In my opinion, citizen arrests should NOT be a practice that non-peace officers are striving to conduct. Due to the unpredictable and violent nature of most felonies and offenses against the public peace, it would probably be in the best interest to be “A GOOD WITNESS” more than to actually get involved and attempt to apprehend a suspect. Suspects daily push, assault, hit, run from, cut, stab, shoot the highest form of law enforcement in our state – uniformed police officers. It doesn’t take a genius to guess what they would do to a citizen who try to apprehend or stop an escape after committing a felonious crime. Don’t get me wrong, your Port Arthur Police Department and all of our surrounding law enforcement agencies are thrilled that we have brave citizens who would step up to assist. I can say, almost certainly, we would rather you and others be SAFE and give a detailed description of the actor(s)/suspect(s), like clothing, race, sex, vehicle description, direction of travel and what CRIME(S) you observed. Now if someone should happen to affect a citizen’s arrest, they should attempt to restrain/detain and hold them without using excessive force until police officers arrive!

Hal from Nederland asks: When are we allowed to pass a school bus after the kids have exited the school bus? The reason for my question is because during the last week before Christmas break of school I observed a school bus let kids off the bus and start moving and the lights were still flashing RED! Was I allowed to pass?

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Answer: We all have noticed in our commute the yellow school buses, and now we must adhere to the laws that safeguard the children and drivers of said vehicles. There are three occasions that allow motorist to pass a school bus. They are the school bus resumes motion, the operator is signaled by the bus driver to proceed or the visual signal-red flashing lights are no longer actuated. In your case, once the school bus started moving, even though the red light was still flashing, you and all other motorists were allowed by state law to PASS. Remember the law is passing a STOPPED school bus. Classes will resume soon so let us all take extra caution for the children around the buses and walking on the roadways.

Timmy from Groves asks: Sometimes I travel up to 15 hours on the road and without having to say this, “sometimes I get tired.” Can I sleep in my vehicle if I get into the backseat or do I have to take my keys out of the ignition?

Answer: The state of Texas encourages sleeping in vehicles at the many designated “rest stops” along its highways. Because of the very reason you mention, drivers get tired behind the wheel. There is NOT a state law in Texas that prohibits sleeping in vehicles on the road, but we must research if your city has a ordinance against sleeping in vehicles. There’s never a good reason to drive while tired. There are many safety concerns one must have when selecting an area to rest like a well-lit area, dense pedestrian traffic, preferably off the road. If you must pull over and sleep in your car, do so safely and in accordance with local laws and you should have no trouble getting 40 winks. The city of Port Arthur DOES NOT have an ordinance against sleeping in vehicles on the roads, but the city of Port Arthur DOES have an ordinance against sleeping in parks, which would include vehicles.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the crew of Stephen “Buzzard Boots” Mosley, Lelo “mouth of Hwy 69/73” I. Washington and Tejas “Lil Man” Morning Star for Ask A Cop live on KSAP 96.9 FM, The Breeze radio station every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. Tune in via the Internet at ksapthebreeze.org. Call in questions live at 409-982-0247. Email questions to rickey.antoine@portarthurtx.gov, call 409-983-8673 for voice mail or mail them to 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public, you can always approach and “Ask A Cop!”