Should police disrupt the Mass?


#1

If the police find out that a suspect for a serious felony, say murder or embezzlement, is attending Mass do you think they should they come in during the Mass and arrest him/her or try to keep tabs on the suspect and wait to make the arrest afterward? It would obviously cause some commotion during the Mass if the rest of the congregations sees what is going on.

Obviously the police have to weigh factors like whether or not the suspect is considered armed and dangerous, whether the suspect is a flight risk., and how long they have been searching for the suspect.


#2

I trust them to know the best way to handle the individual situation given all the factors involved.


#3

[quote="SMHW, post:1, topic:302724"]
If the police find out that a suspect for a serious felony, say murder or embezzlement, is attending Mass do you think they should they come in during the Mass and arrest him/her or try to keep tabs on the suspect and wait to make the arrest afterward? It would obviously cause some commotion during the Mass if the rest of the congregations sees what is going on.

Obviously the police have to weigh factors like whether or not the suspect is considered armed and dangerous, whether the suspect is a flight risk., and how long they have been searching for the suspect.

[/quote]

Do you have a specific reason for posing this question or is it just a product of your imagination?

I don't think there's an absolute right or wrong answer. If the criminal was known to the police to be attending Mass they could keep the church under surveillance and watch all possible exits from the church. It might even be possible for several plain clothes officers to arrest the suspect quietly as he or she leaves he church.

To go ito the church with the aim of arresting the suspect could cause problems. The suspect may be armed and take a hostage. So, I think waiting outside the church would be better.

If they were pursuing someone who ran into a church it would depend on the circumstances. If the person was armed they may need to enter the church to protect people. Alternatively, entering the church may place people in danger.

From TV programmes I have watched about the police it appears they prefer to take an approach that keeps the criminal as calm as possible and which does not make them take excessive risks to make good their escape.

Another advantage to the police not entering the church and keeping the situation as low key as possible is that if they entered the church to affect an arrest they may panic people. This could make the situation worse and far harder to manage.

I would suggest that each and every situation would need to be judged on its merits.


#4

When has this ever happened? ;)
I'm sure God would forgive a disruption if it meant saving a life.


#5

Just as a curiosity: it used to be that when someone entered a church, they could not just go in and get him...the church was like a "sanctuary"...how much has that changed? Can any local authority just act in whichever way most pleases them inside God's house, or is there some regulation to act in accordance with the clergy on these matters?


#6

[quote="R_C, post:5, topic:302724"]
Just as a curiosity: it used to be that when someone entered a church, they could not just go in and get him...the church was like a "sanctuary"...how much has that changed? Can any local authority just act in whichever way most pleases them inside God's house, or is there some regulation to act in accordance with the clergy on these matters?

[/quote]

Sort of like a warrant? Maybe. After all, the church isn't public property and is owned by the local diocese.


#7

[quote="R_C, post:5, topic:302724"]
Just as a curiosity: it used to be that when someone entered a church, they could not just go in and get him...the church was like a "sanctuary"...how much has that changed? Can any local authority just act in whichever way most pleases them inside God's house, or is there some regulation to act in accordance with the clergy on these matters?

[/quote]

I had a similar question, but on sober reflection, if the law stopped at the door of every church, where would we be? In the U.S. at least, any storefront "church" set up to harbor criminals would render them untouchable. it wouldn't have to look like St. Patrick's Cathedral to qualify as a "church.". And speaking of St. Patrick's, what if a drug dealer only had to run up 5th Avenue and into St. Pats to avoid arrest? A vestibule filled with fugitives would bring the liturgical life of the church to a halt. And I don't think local law enforcement authorities particularly just "act in whatever way most pleases them."


#8

Hopefully the cops know what they are doing. There's no right answer to this.


#9

I suppose it would depend on the individual officers and department, but I imagine most would be respectful enough to wait until the Mass had ended. They would be allowed there, since the Mass is a public event. They wouldn't need to worry about 'sanctuary' since that practice has never been used in the United States, but I imagine that if they interfered with the Mass or were disrespectful, they would have hell to pay (no pun intended) when the local journalists, activists, and their superiors got a hold of them.


#10

A Mass, despite the appearances some places, is an emotional experience for many. Police know that interfering at times of heightened emotion can produce unpredictable results. So they would act in the middle of a Mass only in extreme circumstances, where the benefits outweighed the risks. For a proper operation it would be necessary to post police undercover in the congregation, and probably occupy some vantage points, as well as securing entrances and exits. Too much trouble for too little result in most cases. If they know their person is in Church they probably will have known he or she was in a car previous or post Mass. Much easier to act against people confined in a steel and glass box (once it is stopped).


#11

[quote="R_C, post:5, topic:302724"]
Just as a curiosity: it used to be that when someone entered a church, they could not just go in and get him...the church was like a "sanctuary"...how much has that changed? Can any local authority just act in whichever way most pleases them inside God's house, or is there some regulation to act in accordance with the clergy on these matters?

[/quote]

Modern state laws do not permit a criminal to seek sanctuary in a church. That's probably not the best way to say it. Of course someone may seek sanctuary but the civil authorities will not recognise it as a "sanctary". Even in mediaeval England you could not seek sanctuary indefinitely. It was limited to 40 days.


#12

The idea of a Church providing sanctuary has no meaning in law in the United State. Police are authorized to enter an make an arrest at any time they deem fit. However, it is a general practice for them not to interrupt religious services except in dire emergencies.
As a matter of fact, there is a squad of NYC Police stationed in St. Patricks Cathedral in Manhattan the entire time it is open. The reason for this, is that there have been numerous "incidents" that endanger the public there: including muggings, blatent robbery of the poor boxes, couples having sexual relations in public, and sacrilege. There have been anti-Catholic demonstrations by Gay groups in which their members received
Communion and then spat the Host on the floor and stomped on it! Although the police couldn't prevent this from happening, they were able to prevent a riot on the part of the worshipers, which is what the demonstrators wanted. Needless to say, the courts were not gentle on the miscreants.


#13

[quote="R_C, post:5, topic:302724"]
Just as a curiosity: it used to be that when someone entered a church, they could not just go in and get him...the church was like a "sanctuary"...how much has that changed? Can any local authority just act in whichever way most pleases them inside God's house, or is there some regulation to act in accordance with the clergy on these matters?

[/quote]

Such are still the laws in Canada. Furthermore, police also cannot impede a priest from fulfilling his priestly duties. For example, if a priest was going to annoint someone, pulled over for speeding and had an outstanding warrant or something (given that our public transit police are rather zealous about ticketing people for really dumb things, and if the tickets go unpaid, they go to warrant, such is a good possibility even for an upstanding citizen), the police cannot arrest him.


#14

[quote="SMHW, post:1, topic:302724"]
If the police find out that a suspect for a serious felony, say murder or embezzlement, is attending Mass do you think they should they come in during the Mass and arrest him/her or try to keep tabs on the suspect and wait to make the arrest afterward? It would obviously cause some commotion during the Mass if the rest of the congregations sees what is going on.

Obviously the police have to weigh factors like whether or not the suspect is considered armed and dangerous, whether the suspect is a flight risk., and how long they have been searching for the suspect.

[/quote]

As a police officer, I can tell you that officers will refer to "the totality of the circumstances" before engaging.

There are a lot of things that must be considered; questions like:
1. How dangerous is the suspect?
2. What is the risk to the people around the suspect?
3. What are the chances that a dangerous suspect will elude capture?
4. If the suspect does elude capture at the church, what are the risks to the public-at-large?

The short answer is the more dangerous the suspect, the more likely the officers are to enter the church during Mass, especially if the suspect has ducked in there to prevent apprehension.


#15

[quote="SMHW, post:1, topic:302724"]
If the police find out that a suspect for a serious felony, say murder or embezzlement, is attending Mass do you think they should they come in during the Mass and arrest him/her or try to keep tabs on the suspect and wait to make the arrest afterward? It would obviously cause some commotion during the Mass if the rest of the congregations sees what is going on.

Obviously the police have to weigh factors like whether or not the suspect is considered armed and dangerous, whether the suspect is a flight risk., and how long they have been searching for the suspect.

[/quote]

We are not the police so how can we answer such a question.


#16

Only if it's the BATF under a Democratic President. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waco_siege


#17

In Canada, sanctuary has usually been invoked by illegal immigrants trying to avoid deportation. While there is no legal basis for 'sanctuary' in Canada, it is usually respected. Only once, in Québec, did the police go into a church and drag out a man invoking 'sanctuary'.

Two cases in Newfoundland and Labrador come to mind: Alexi Portnoy (an Israeli) & Alexi Kolosov (a Latvian). One family took refuge in a Baptist Church and one in a Catholic church. The Portnoy family was deported once and again illegally returned to Canada.
m.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/his-church-another-version-of-prison/article579404/?service=mobile
freedominion.ca/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=878757
cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2008/04/25/portnoys-leaving.html


#18

[quote="SMHW, post:1, topic:302724"]
If the police find out that a suspect for a serious felony, say murder or embezzlement.

[/quote]

Murder and Embezzlement are not the same type of serious felony.

Embezzlement is usually a "white collar" crime. The police and prosecutor would afford the defendant an opportunity to turn himself in and set a PR bond.

Murder, aggravated robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, sexual assault (or as we in Texas call them, the 3(g) offenses named after Texas Code of Criminal Procedure art. 42.12 section 3(g)) are the type of serious offenses that would result in a chase.


#19

The situation would dictate the response and that would be up to the police chain of command. I doubt the Church would have anything to say about it unless the response was wildly inappropriate given on-the-ground circumstances. Even then, I’m sure different Church leaders would hold different opinions on the matter.


#20

If someone ran into a church brandishing a firearm and making threats, I would think the Mass has already been disrupted, and I should hope that someone would have the presence of mind to call the police and report the situation!

But I suppose that the answer to the question, 'should police disrupt the Mass?' would depend on how volatile the situation is, and should be left up to the judgment of the particular police superior in charge of the arrest.

George, thank you for reminding me of the continuous police presence in St. Patrick's Cathedral. I don't know what it is about St. Pat's, but it does seem to be a magnet for every type of inappropriate individual for blocks around!


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