Chandler, Arizona resident Karl “Jack” Frost, who was arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment after attempting a “citizen’s arrest” on a jogger for using a bicycle lane, describes himself as haunted by “demons” from his 14 years as a British police officer.
On the morning of May 16, Frost, 47, was riding his bicycle in nearby Gilbert when he encountered 52-year-old Kevin Thompson, who was jogging in the bike lane. Frost claims that Thompson pushed him and nearly caused him to fall from his bike. Frost, on the other hand, claims that when he moved aside to let Frost pass, the bicyclist attempted to run him down; his account is supported by at least one eyewitness.
Frost, who was several inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than Thompson, pursued the jogger, seized him, and shouted “Citizen’s arrest!” He then called 911 to demand that an officer come and take the supposed offender into custody. While on the phone with the police dispatcher, Frost physically restrained the jogger, barraging him with profane abuse and insisting that he was “under arrest” and couldn’t leave. When the police arrived, it was Frost who was taken to jail and charged with unlawful imprisonment.
All citizens have the authority to arrest a criminal suspect – that is, to restrain him by force to prevent him from either committing a crime or fleeing the scene. Since Thompson’s alleged lane violation was a civil offense, he wasn’t subject to arrest. Frost appeared to believe that he was entitled to seize Thompson and hold him, and the arrest was justified because Thompson “assaulted” him by trying to escape – in other words, that resisting a spurious citizen’s arrest is itself a crime. This reflects a habit of mind Frost acquired as a police officer.
Frost, a British expatriate, claims that before his 14 years as a police officer – nine of which involved participation in a SWAT team for the Metropolitan Police – he served in the British Special Air Service. According to the Phoenix New Times, Frost told a Gilbert PD investigator that “he had been trained his entire life to meet conflict with violence, which was creating a problem now that he was a civilian… Karl said he `struggled with inner demons’ over his ability to enforce laws as he used to.”
There are at least two critical disclosures in Frost’s account. First of all, he was trained to be a law enforcer – a violent, armed emissary of the political state – rather than a peace officer committed to the protection of life and property. Second, his law enforcement background left him with a lingering addiction to power – and made him a danger to others.
In an ironically appropriate fashion, British expat Frost embodies the case against government police agencies, of which the Met – his former employer – was the prototype. When English Home Secretary Robert Peel (the former military governor of occupied Ireland) proposed creation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829, populist parliamentarian William Cobbett, warned that the police, although apparently harmless at the time, would be the vanguard of a country-wide army of occupation. It only took a few years for Cobbett’s warning to be vindicated.
“Tyranny always comes by slow degrees,” Cobbett observed in an 1833 speech in Parliament, “and nothing could tend to illustrate that fact [better] than the history of police in this country.” Less than a generation earlier, Cobbett pointed out, the very term “police” was “completely new among us.” Now, owing to Peel’s innovations, London was now overrun with “Blue Locusts” – “a police with numbered collars and embroidered cuffs, a body of men as regular as the King’s service, as fit for domestic war as the redcoats were for foreign war.”
If Frost were still wearing a government-issued costume, he would be able give those “inner demons” free rein at the expense of those less privileged than himself.
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