Editorial roundup: Views from around Georgia

Valdosta Daily Times: State right to abolish citizen’s arrest

Georgia did the right thing by repealing the state’s antiquated citizen’s arrest law.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill Monday that effectively puts an end to a Jim Crow-era law that had been used to justify vigilante justice.

After Ahmaud Arbery was shot down in the streets of Brunswick last year after having been chased by three white men, two of those men unbelievably claimed they were simply conducting a lawful citizen’s arrest.

Kemp and Georgia lawmakers have put an end to that kind of defense.

The horrific acts in Brunswick last year when Arbery was gunned down in the street must not happen again.

Of course, any of us would defend our homes and our families if invaded, but that is a far cry from hunting someone down and killing them.

In a rare bipartisan effort, Georgia lawmakers did the right thing.

Still, this is just one step in a long journey, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

There remains a lot of work to be done in Georgia and across the nation.

Kemp had said he wanted to “close dangerous loopholes that could be used to justify future acts of vigilantism.”

Still, it was unbelievable Georgia had laws which would allow anyone to think they could take the law into their own hands, chase someone down in the street, and end up acting as judge, jury and executioner.

Georgia does not have a good legacy when it comes to racial justice. It was only about a year ago — amidst national unrest, protests in the streets across the U.S. and cries for social justice — that our state passed a hate crimes bill, after more than a decade without one.

We must continue the dismantling of institutional, systemic racism that has long plagued our state and communities of color.

Kemp had called the old citizen’s arrest law an “antiquated law that is ripe for abuse and enables sinister, evil motives.”

About that, he was exactly right.

Brunswick News: Is there a safer or better way to serve warrants?

The safety of the men and women in the ranks of local, state and federal law enforcement ought to always be of utmost concern to those they serve and to those handing out assignments. They are the sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, of many of us in this community, or the sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, of fellow Americans in countless cities and counties inside and outside of Georgia.

Men and women stand up to serve from all regions of the country, and the nation is better for it.

It is for this very reason that the question must be asked: Is there a safer or better way or time to approach a suspect or a building where the occupants are suspected of a crime?

Even without the benefit of training or years of experience, anyone keeping up with the news knows there is no such thing as a routine arrest anymore, and that’s if there ever was. Suspects jacked up on one of a cornucopia of illegal and legal drugs available these days can turn rabid, dangerous and deadly in mere seconds. That poses a risk to innocent civilians who happen to be in the area at the time, as well as to arresting officers and, of course, to a suspect under the control of mind-altering substances.

Just recently, a warrant acted on during the predawn hours Tuesday outside of Woodbine in Camden County turned deadly quickly. A warrant to search the property for drugs or drug activity erupted into gunfire that resulted in the death of a woman and the injury of a man, both occupants of the residence at the time. Officers said they knocked on the door at 4:51 a.m., announced their intentions and entered the structure.

Would it have been better for all concerned, including the deputies, if the warrant had been executed during daylight hours? Or was an element of surprise better for all, including the men and women with the badges who could have just as easily been wounded or worse?

These are the kinds of questions local, state and federal law enforcement leaders should be asking themselves.

The answers may result in no change whatsoever to current policy, and that’s fine. It is as long as existing protocols are given careful study and review.

Only those directly involved in law enforcement know the answers to these questions. The rest of us can only speculate what might be appropriate or more appropriate. We are not the ones putting our lives on the line to enforce the law and protect public safety.

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