Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 1:45 p.m.
Last week, the owner of a restaurant performed a citizen's arrest after a disturbance inside his business. In any jurisdiction, this action is uncommon and perhaps raises two questions: Why was this necessary and under what authority may one perform a citizen's arrest?
Peace officers in Nevada may not arrest a suspect for a misdemeanor offense without a warrant, unless the offense was committed in the officer's presence. (There are a few exceptions to this law, such as a mandatory arrest for domestic battery.)
Nevada Revised Statue (NRS) 171.126 states, "a private person may arrest another for a public offense committed or attempted in his presence." Citizen's arrests are rare, because the citizen must convince responding officers that an offense occurred prior to their arrival. Additionally, the private citizen incurs the burden of summoning witnesses, appearing in court and testifying against the offender — tasks normally performed by peace officers.
In this case, a 62-year-old man tried to pay for his meal with a debit card. When the debit card was electronically denied, the man refused to pay for his meal and began berating employees.
Nearby diners were trying to enjoy their meals, but the man's offensive conduct rapidly progressed and disturbed the peaceful atmosphere and quietness of the business. The owner called the police.
Before Officers Healing and Olson arrived, the offender's behavior changed to cooperative and compliant. The officers obtained corroborating statements from other patrons and learned that the suspect had a lengthy history of disturbing the peace in Las Vegas, but this offense did not occur in their presence.
Because there were no outstanding arrest warrants against the offender, the officers could not arrest the suspect.
In this case, the last recourse was a citizen's arrest. The business owner made the citizen's arrest by telling the suspect that he was under arrest for disorderly conduct.
Officers Healing and Olson took custody of the suspect and, after completing the necessary paperwork for the business owner, took the offender to jail.
February 20 — Narcotics Offenses
Officers from the Graves II squad (Ford, Woolsey, Wilkin, Case, and Salazar) respond to a report of a loud party at 11:15 p.m. A 22-year-old man runs from the police but is arrested after a foot chase. Four men and two women, none of whom ran from the police, are in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. They all receive citations.
February 20 — Drunken Driver
Traffic Officer Nutzman stops a speeder on U.S. 95 near mile marker 52. The 21-year-old driver from California has the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath or person. After a field investigation, Officer Nutzman has one in custody for drunken driving.
February 21 — DUI Alcohol
The busy weekend continues for the Graves II squad as they respond to a fight in progress on a residential street. The mutual combatants are not located but a 31-year-old woman is subsequently arrested for DUI and obstructing and resisting an officer.
February 21 — Wanted Person
Officer Healing stops a traffic violator on Nevada Highway near Gingerwood Street. One of the five occupants has several bench warrants and Officer Healing has one in custody.
February 23 — Domestic Disturbance
Sergeant Byrd and Officer Pastore respond to a residence on Arizona Street after a neighbor calls the police. A 22-year-old woman is bleeding from the face and paramedics are summoned. The woman claimed that her 21-year-old boyfriend beat her before driving away with their two children. The boyfriend is arrested for domestic battery a few hours later after he voluntarily returns to Boulder City.
February 24 — Narcotics Offenses
Officer Olson stops a traffic violator on Nevada Highway near Yucca Street. K-9 Officer Daly responds with K-9 Qwest, whose floppy ears don't get in the way of her alerting on a sizable amount of methamphetamine. Officer Olson arrests a 59-year-old woman for several narcotics offenses.
Incident Reports — 43
Traffic Stops — 222
Citations — 181
Adult Arrests — 16
Juvenile Arrests — 0
Animal Control calls — 126
Boulder City Police Sgt. Dan Jennings can be reached at email@example.com.