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POLICE: neighbor utilized gun to detain theft suspects; say tactic ‘not encouraged’

Police lights, red blue. Photo credit: Luke Otterstad
Stock photo. Citrus Heights Sentinel

The neighbor who single-handedly detained three juveniles in the middle of the street after an alleged vehicle burglary Wednesday was aided by a personal firearm, a sergeant from the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHPD) said today – adding that the Department prefers uniformed officers handle such situations.

See prior story here: Neighbor detains teens after vehicle break-in; 3 arrested

CHPD Sergeant Mike Wells made the following statement today in an email to The Sentinel regarding the Department’s position on the use of firearms by residents: [box]“The Citrus Heights Police Department appreciates citizens being aware of the incidents occurring in their neighborhood and contacting police when illegal activity occurs. However, we do not encourage residents to actively get involved with the detention of individuals suspected of crimes, particularly utilizing a firearm to accomplish this task. A citizen bringing a firearm into the equation can potentially cause greater harm than good. The three subjects could have overwhelmed the citizen and taken the firearm and it’s also difficult for responding officers to determine if the subject with the weapon is a suspect or well intentioned resident. We encourage residents to be good witnesses and provide updates of the suspects location and allow uniformed officers to handle the apprehension.”[/box]

“I’m not discouraging anyone from using a firearm to defend themselves, if serious bodily injury or death is imminent and the firearm is needed to prevent this from occurring,” the sergeant later clarified in a phone interview. “However residents need to weigh out the seriousness of the crime and whether or not they would be best served to let police intervene and be a good witness until police arrive.”

Although the neighbor is not facing any charges for his involvement, Sergeant Wells said — before involving a firearm — gun owners should question, “Is this a life or death situation? Or is this just a property crime.”

Wells also said under the newly passed Proposition 47, the teens’ charge for possession of stolen property will be a misdemeanor rather than a felony, since the electronics were valued at less than $950. The Department’s Police Chief Christopher Boyd, as well as the entire Citrus Heights city council, officially opposed the proposition, which reclassified many felonies to misdemeanors if they were considered “non-serious and nonviolent.”

The teens were also arrested for possession of burglary tools as well as “conspiracy” charges, which Wells said comes in to play when more than one person works together to commit a crime.

The Sentinel wants to know: What would you have done if you saw three teens breaking into a neighbor’s vehicle at 2 a.m.? Post your comment below:

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