Crowdsourcing Law Enforcement: What Could Go Wrong?

Ah, Arizona, the beacon of Wild West revivalism, has done it again, folks! If you’re the nostalgic type, yearning for the days of saloons and shootouts, the Arizona Senate has something for you. They decided that the solution to retail theft isn’t through boring, conventional methods like hiring more police or investing in technology. No, no. It’s by turning every “private person”—aka Tom, Dick, and Harry—into a badgeless deputy of retail justice.

Introducing SB 1613, the bill that could allow any pathetic incel named Joe Schmo to arrest suspected shoplifters because, obviously, what could possibly go wrong?

Let’s paint a picture, shall we? You’re in your local grocery store, minding your own business, trying to decide between almond or oat milk, when suddenly you spot someone suspiciously eyeing a family-sized bag of Chips Ahoy. Your heart races. This is your moment. Forget the police. Who needs ’em when you have vigilant citizens, each with a chip on their shoulder, roaming the aisles, ready to spring into action at the slightest whiff of retail injustice? It’s like “Neighborhood Watch,” but with more aisle confrontations and fewer cookies.

Sen. Justine Wadsack (AZ LD17), the so-called visionary behind this masterpiece, believes that the explosion of retail theft demands more than just waiting for trained, experienced police. Because, let’s face it, waiting for professionals to handle a potentially volatile situation is so passé. Instead, Wadsack proposes we unleash the power of citizen arrests for any and all shoplifting instances, because random citizens making split-second legal judgments always ends well, right?

The bill sails through the Senate on a party-line vote, because who needs bipartisan agreement when you can have good ol’ fashioned law-and-order rhetoric? Opposition? Pshaw. Pima County Attorney Laura Conover warns that this could lead to dangerous confrontations, injuries, and a proliferation of firearms incidents. Yeah? Well, I’m pretty sure Conover doesn’t know by heart all the plot synopses of 20+ seasons of Law & Order, or any televised police procedural, for that matter. So what the hell could she possibly know? She’s only an IRL expert in law and public safety, plus a 20-year veteran of advocating for criminal justice reform.

Then there’s Josh Jacobsen from the Tucson Crime Free Coalition, leading the cheer squad for this bill. Because, obviously, what we need to solve our police shortage and prosecution issues is a bunch of civilians playing cop.

And if there’s anything BIPOC folks are just dying for, it’s giving racists yet another chance to dish out their own twisted brand of justice based on skin color. Because, you know, nothing screams “probable cause” like a flawed racial litmus test. And let’s not even dive into the circus of customers wrestling each other to the ground over a look that was probably just a squint at a price tag.

Ah, but there’s a deterrent effect, Jacobsen argues. Thieves alledgedly will quake in their boots knowing that not just the police, but anyone with an ax to grind, a hero complex, or too much time on their hands, could be waiting to pounce. It’s a brilliant strategy, right? (long silent pause) Right!? I mean, why invest in complex solutions like improving socioeconomic conditions or funding law enforcement when fear and unpredictability can do the job?

Critics, such as Sen. Anna Hernandez, worry about the potential for violence and the liability issues that could arise. But, in the spirit of Arizona’s pioneering ethos, why not add a bit of excitement via a retail rodeo ambiance to your shopping trip? Forget the thrill of finding a good deal; the real action is in aisle seven where Rhinestone cowboy justice is being served alongside the canned beans.

Now, if you’re thinking, “But what about better solutions to retail theft?,” well, you’re just not thinking creatively enough. Sure, we could talk about investing in more police officers, better training, enhancing mental health services, or even—gasp—addressing the root causes of theft like poverty and addiction. But why tackle systemic issues when you can just deputize the public?

In conclusion, SB 1613 isn’t just a bill; it’s a throwback to a simpler time, a time when justice was served not through the courts, but in the aisles of your local store, by the hands of your random, fellow shoppers. Because in Arizona, why move forward when you can always go back to the Wild West?

9 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing Law Enforcement: What Could Go Wrong?”

  1. Can I “citizen arrest” Weirdsack for impersonating a rational human being? An utter disgrace. But so many in her caucus including the Rogue Cop Caucus, Kern and Gillette.

  2. BTW, those retail theft numbers everyone heard about last year?

    They were way off. Way, way, waaaaaayyyyyy off.

    From the LATimes, and every other news source:
    “It’s easy to get attention for sensational claims, however, particularly when they come from official sources. Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Assn., told the San Jose Mercury News that in San Francisco and Oakland alone, businesses lose $3.6 billion to organized retail crime each year.

    That would mean retail gangs steal nearly 25% of total sales in San Francisco and Oakland combined, which amounted to around $15.5 billion in 2019, according to the state agency that tracks sales tax.

    Can that be right? In a word: no.

    The country’s largest retail industry group, the National Retail Federation, estimated in its latest report that losses from organized retail theft average $700,000 per $1 billion in sales — or 0.07% of total sales — an amount roughly 330 times lower than the CRA’s estimate.”

    Maybe those folks at the California Retailers Assn’ should take some remedial math courses.

    But the lie gets around the world before the truth can get its pants on, and most people don’t bother to verify their news.

    Those videos of organized gangs get the headlines, but the Wall Street hedge funds and CEO’s stealing actual billions barely gets noticed.

  3. In the warm Sonoran springtime sun, I walk past Tesla’s, Mercedes, BWM’s, and the occasional Ferrari on my way into an Ahwatukee Safeway, just around 3PM on any given school day.

    Inside I see teen and pre-teen white kids, the offspring of upper middle-class All-white-tukee parents, staring at their $1,000.00 iPhones, talking loudly, screeching even, and stuffing their backpacks full of treats that they will not pay for.*

    Knowing that this will do immeasurable harm to Wall Street hedge funds, I bring up the barrel of my Colt Single Action Army Revolver, the State of Arizona official firearm (even though they don’t make ’em in Arizona, WTF?) and with a quick fanning motion, send those little criminals to hell, piece by bloody piece.

    I blow the smoke from the barrel, holster my weapon, and head for the beer isle.

    That’ll teach ’em to steal Oreo’s and chocolate milk while Officer Sharpie is in town.

    Oh, wait, was this supposed to just be a license to shoot black folks? Because all the shoplifters I know are white.

    A lot of kids go through a shoplifting phase, it doesn’t last, it’s more of a thrill seeking thing, pushing boundaries.

    Wadsack, which is both her name and the location of where her father should have kept her, isn’t the smartest racist in the Klan.

    The upper middle class white kids stealing is a true story, happens all the time, and that’s why you see piles of backpacks near the doors of many retail establishments.

    • I’ve heard a lot of retail theft comes from customers cheating at the self-checkout lanes at your local retail and grocery establishment. So I’m expecting those who dominate our intrepid Senate & Legislature to mandate firearms embedded in those self checkouts to start blasting when said cheating occurs.

      • That’s one of the reasons stores are starting to remove self checkout lines, which suck anyway.

        I’ve “stolen” things at least once from self checkout by accident, missed scanning an item, and I bet a lot of “theft” is people doing the same thing.

        Meantime, remember, if you see someone forget something in the basket, you need to lead them, like a duck, and account for wind, so that bullet doesn’t go shoot some kids selling Girl Scout Cookies by the door.

        Unless that Girl Scout is a minority, which is the real reason for this Sack of Wad law.

    • Relax. If any charges are brought against the children of rich or well-connected people (aka white kids) the Maricopa County Attorney will just give them a pass anyway.

      Just ask Charles Ryan.

      I expect the Gilbert Goons to get one (except for any with skin darker than a golfer’s tan).

  4. I can see a scenario where a RWNJ redneck fundie-vangie christo-fascist MAGAmoron trumper draws a firearm and tries to “arrest” me bc “He don’t look like he belongs here. He must be doin’ sumpin illegal.” Things will go sideways in a nanosecond.

  5. Legislation is so easy to judge. If Weirdsack proposed it, its horrible for the average Arizonan, who is not crazy.

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