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Citizen’s arrest in Warren prompts law director’s concern about safety



Published: Thu, February 9, 2012 @ 12:07 a.m.

photo

Hicks

photo

Chine

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

In a town that has encouraged citizens to help police by serving as an extra set of eyes and ears, did a downtown resident go too far by slapping handcuffs on a woman he says tried to rob him?

Law Director Greg Hicks says he probably did — not because he did anything wrong, but because of the potential harm he could have brought upon himself.

“A phone call and an accurate description might have been a better idea,” Hicks said of Aaron Chine, 31, who made a citizen’s arrest at 8:18 p.m. Sunday in the alley beside Comfort Inn on Courthouse Square.

Chine decided about a week ago to begin to patrol the area around his home on Courthouse Square because of the amount of vagrancy and crime in the downtown area.

He was on such a patrol Sunday when Laura K. Hall, 47, of Laird Avenue, approached Chine asking for money. Chine told her no, he says. But Hall persisted, saying she would “pull out her knife and cut him,” according to a police report.

Chine put his handcuffs on Hall and called police, who took her into custody. Prosecutors later charged Hall with felony “attempt to commit an offense.” A municipal court judged ordered that Hall be held in the county jail without eligibility to make bond.

Hicks said that when he talks to the participants in Warren’s Citizens Police Academy — citizens who receive training from police officers on how to help police do their job — he always stresses that the public plays an important role in preventing crime, but they should avoid getting into an altercation.

“Their mere presence is a deterrent to crime ... but I don’t want to see someone get hurt,” Hicks said.

In the case of Hall, she threatened to use a knife — and getting slashed across the neck with a razor could kill a person, Hicks noted.

Another danger to someone such as Chine is that he might get sued, Hicks said.

Police officers go through hundreds of hours of training to learn how to handle crime suspects, and they still get sued.

Chine knew enough to use his handcuffs on Hall only after she allegedly committed a felony offense, Hicks said, but how many citizens know what elements of a crime make them a felony or misdemeanor?

If she’d only said, “I’ll beat you up,” that might have been only a misdemeanor offense, and a citizen would have no grounds to restrain someone for such a thing, Hicks said.

Further, criminals sometimes claim to have suffered an injury in the course of a struggle with police. Police departments have insurance for that, but a citizen doesn’t, Hicks added.

Chine, for his part, says never planned to use handcuffs, saying they were for a “worse-case scenario” only.

“I’m not out there trying to clean up the streets by myself,” Chine said.

But a couple of weeks ago, he became concerned about the downtown area he loves. He found that he and his girlfriend couldn’t walk a short distance down the sidewalk at night without being approached several times by people wanting money.

Then, a couple of businesses downtown were robbed.

“How tired of this stuff do we have to be before we do something?” Chine asked.

He has lived downtown for four years, and he says the number of people sleeping in Courthouse Park and bothering people downtown has increased significantly.

“I love it,” he said of living downtown, “but it’s getting harder to enjoy it.”


Comments

1fess2it(30 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Maybe this is what needs to hapen since people shoot each other like we are in the "Old West". By the time citizens call 911 the offenders are long gone and off to commit another crime. Constuctor, would you shoot a woman who claims they would pull out a knife and slash you? Better think twice on that one.

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2DwightK(1304 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Or maybe Warren could take a page from Youngstown's book and clean up their downtown. You don't see people hassled in downtown Youngstown. Warren's courthouse square is crawling with bums.

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3PhilMcCrackin(58 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

fess, if she made him fear for his life, he could legally shoot her. Her family would probably see dollar signs and go after him in civil cour,though.

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4Boondocksaints(2 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Had he called the police and gave an accurate description they wouldn't have done a thing. I've lived in Warren for 8 years..here's a couple of examples of our police NOT doing their job. When I was a full time student and working full time 4 years ago I lived in a seedy part of town. My car was stolen out of my driveway, I didn't know til I got a call from WPD around 7 am. Officer Chris O'Rourke arrives at my house to take me to get it, accuses me of "probably trading it for crack" then it gets better when we get to the car he says you look like your under the influence and you have to leave your car here, when I told him he can give me a sobriety test he refused THEN charged me with failure to comply and tows the car. He takes me downtown gives me the citation and tells me to walk home. I went and took a drug test that day at CCC downtown to prove I was sober. Still cost me $1200 for a lawyer + $220 for the tow + $10 for the drug test + 3 court appearances for them to apologize and throw the charges out.
Another example, same seedy neighborhood, my house is hit with gunfire and the bullet goes through the front door and out the side of the house. The officer shows up an HOUR later. Then asks are you okay, tell him yes and he says if you want a police report you can come down to the station in a couple of days.
I have a lot more stories but you get the point, citizens have to monitor bc the police don't do squat.

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5srdaddy(1 comment)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Boondock is right, the WPD is a joke. I once called 911 to report a SEVER drunk driver on 422, and while I was on the phone with them the operator asked me to try and keep an eye on the car so until the officer could get there. The drunk ran a red light, so I followed him, and when the cop got there, I also got a ticket because I'm not an "emergency" vehicle. It took literally 2 minutes from the time I called to the time the police hunted us down and got him, only 2 minutes. Yet, when I once called the police because there were gun shots by my apartment, it took them 45 minutes to get there. Maybe because it is more beneficial for the City and the officer's quota to nail a dui then it is to arrest a gunshot crime. And don't you even THINK about dodging any pot holes in Warren, because your getting stopped with suspition of DUI every time. I'm glad this guy did what he did. It's getting ridiculous to even go to the Get Go on Mahoning Ave. without getting somebody telling you they "left their wallet at the office, and need money to get a ride back to the office". Meanwhile they look like they havn't taken a bath in 2 months, what office you work at bro?

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