ATLANTA – State officials on Tuesday, February 16, revealed details of a bipartisan law aimed at revising the Law on Arresting Georgian Citizens to limit who can arrest someone suspected of a crime.

The first major criminal measure proposed in the 2021 legislature and sponsored by Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, would repeal current Georgian law that largely allows individuals to arrest anyone who is in their presence or during a Escape committing a crime attempt.

It would also allow owners and employees in businesses such as restaurants, as well as security guards and police officers outside of the jurisdiction, to arrest those believed to have committed a crime against their property – as long as they are turned over to local authorities within an hour.

The proposed changes would have no impact on the state’s stand-your-ground law or other legal protections for Georgians who wish to adequately defend themselves against crimes against themselves or others, officials said at a news conference on Tuesday, February 16.

“Our bill to revise the Citizens’ Detention Act is a balanced approach to protecting the lives and livelihoods of ourselves, our friends [and] At the same time, our neighbors prevent rogue vigilantism from compromising the safety and God-given potential of all Georgians, ”said Governor Brian Kemp.

Kemp, along with more than a dozen senior lawmakers from both parties, called the current Civil War Detention Act “an obsolete law ripe for abuse.”

He said the bill came from the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was jogging in a neighborhood outside of Braunschweig on February 23, 2020, when two white men who suspected him robbed a house under construction nearby shot him trying to hold him.

The two men, Travis and Gregory McMichael, were arrested months later after protests against police brutality and racial injustice spread across the country, highlighting the lack of action by coastal authorities in Georgia. You pleaded not guilty to the citizen’s detention law.

Anger over Arbery’s death and protests over the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota, convinced a bipartisan group of Georgian lawmakers last June to pass laws banning hate crimes in the state. The citizen’s arrest law ties in with this measure, said Kemp.

“As with the anti-hate crime legislation, the reform of the Georgian citizens’ detention law is primarily about who we are as a state,” Kemp said on Tuesday, February 16. “In Georgia, we value life … regardless of race, creed, or culture. ”

The bill comes from the Democratic legislature telling a comprehensive package of proposals to reform the criminal justice system, including bans on certain police tactics such as arrest warrants and chokeholds, community monitoring of investigations into shootings involving civil servants, and stricter standards on the use of Strength training.

The Republican legislature took a less expansive approach to criminal justice at this session. So far, bills have been tabled to alleviate probation officers’ employment problems and to make Kemp’s priority to do more to combat human trafficking.

So far, Reeves’ move to arrest citizens has the best chance of surviving the Republican-controlled General Assembly, although some Democratic leaders are cautious about accepting the proposed legal protections for entrepreneurs to apprehend suspected criminals.

Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, who is the longest-serving member of the Legislature, attempted to allay concerns within his party on Tuesday, February 16 by assuring the bill was supported by criminal justice lawyers and “excitement “was brought up by Arbery’s family.

“I think we are pretty good,” said Smyre after the press conference. “We insured it [Arbery] Family and those in Braunschweig that the arrest of the citizen would be our next step. … It would have been a waiver of our responsibility if we hadn’t touched on the arrest of citizens at the beginning of this legislative period. “

The bill is also supported by James Woodall, President of the Georgian Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who “fully endorses” Reeves’ move.

“We urge members of both parties and in both chambers to do the same,” said Woodall.