I was reading a book(fiction) recently and a kidnapping happened. A woman escaped and ran into several people. One of them being a soldier with his wife. As the kidnapper tries to find the escaped woman, he also runs into these people. The wife wants to call the police, but the soldier says he doesn't want the guy leaving before they get there. Then he said "I'm on active duty and I'm tasked with upholding federal law".

Is this in any way true? Can a soldier act as a law enforcement officer in a situation like this? I'm aware there is a law that states the military can't operate on U.S. soil, but I feel like the author of the book knows something I don't.

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    I'd say rather that you know something the author of the book doesn't. – phoog Sep 24 '19 at 0:32
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    "Soldier" traditionally means army. In this case branch of service matters. For example, Coast Guard is a federal law enforcement agency. – Gerard Ashton Sep 24 '19 at 12:09
  • Were these fictional events in the US? I suppose so, from the wording. – David Siegel Sep 24 '19 at 16:36

Under US law, any citizen may hold a person caught in the process of committing a felony (which kidnapping surely is) for the police. A soldier has no special authority. Indeed under the Posse Comititas Act, the military has more restricted authority in such matters than citizens in general. However note that the book doesn't say the soldier was justified. I do not find it implausible that a soldier might have believed that the military had such authority.

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    This applies in England and Wales too (without the detail about Posse Comitatas of course). – Martin Bonner supports Monica Sep 24 '19 at 16:15
  • Given that U.S. soldiers do take an oath to uphold the constitution, it is particularly plausible that a soldier who wasn't too bright and wasn't paying attention in basic could have that misapprehension. Also, the offenses described aren't federal crimes, something that soldier also didn't know. – ohwilleke Sep 24 '19 at 23:19
  • As a child I thought a "citizen arrest" would be a fairly common occurrence. Sigh. – Pete B. Sep 25 '19 at 11:42

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