LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State Police and the Michigan Attorney General are warning residents to not go after suspected child molesters on their own.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Dana Nessel and police say that citing recent activities in Grand Rapids, “vigilante activity will not be tolerated.”
“It is reckless and dangerous for residents to take matters of law enforcement into their own hands. Not only does it put them directly in harm’s way, it actually hinders our ability to keep our kids safe and protect them from dangerous individuals,” Nessel said in a press release. “In fact, well-meaning vigilantes not only endanger themselves, but their actions may result in important evidence being suppressed, impeding our ability to properly and effectively do our job.”
In Grand Rapids, Zach Sweers, who runs a YouTube channel Anxiety War, has been targeting predators for at least three years. He has nearly 325,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Nessel says that police have told the vigilante that they are not able to prosecute any more cases based on his information. Police say vigilantes are open to civil litigation and criminal charges is they act outside the law.
“Our priority is always public safety,” said D/F/Lt. James Ellis, commander of the MSP Cyber Section in the press release. “Taking matters into your own hands is dangerous and extremely harmful to a successful prosecution. Digital evidence collection, for example, has strict rules that must be followed for a case to legally move forward.”
Police say that anyone can report suspicious activity immediately through the Cyber Tip Line here.