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Far be it from me to accuse someone else of being an overly-entitled, power hungry jerk with a misanthropic conception of civil responsibilities, (after all, that’s what it says on my business card) but this dude is the most aggressively self-interested vigilante since Matter-Eater Lad.

Technically, issuing citizens arrests wouldn’t make you a bounty hunter, but when you’re a hire car driver arresting other pay-to-drive service workers exclusively, it seems like a monetary interest is definitely a motivating factor. Yes, former British police officer Russell Howarth apparently missed the memo informing him he’s not actually a cop anymore and is using the Uber app to ensnare uberX drivers in Sydney to drive him to locations like car parks so he can then churlishly apprehend them until the people who are actually paid to be our anti-criminal authorities arrive.

“I got him, I got him” Russell shouts gleefully as he makes a breakthrough in his criminal investigation (read: uses the Uber app) and ‘ascertains that he is actually committing an offence’ (read: talks to the person) before ‘placing him under arrest’ (which would actually be a citizens arrest, something we all have a legal ability to do). Wasn’t this a McNulty subplot on The Wire one time? (no, it wasn’t)
“I was in between jobs, I couldn’t get a job.” says the anonymous uberX driver in response to Russell’s questions, something that no doubt got the ex-cop-turned-glorified-taxi-boi super hot under the collar, knowing he was most likely about to propel a struggling migrant Australian into unemployment or gross financial strain.

It gets even better at the 1:50 mark when this guy (who I need to reiterate has zero authority) begins finger pointing and dictating law to Uber Australia Operations Manager Glenn O’Sullivan who attended the arrest site to help resolve the issue. “DO NOT INTERFERE WITH THIS ARREST” Russell aggressively commands “I’m happy for him to talk to you because he’s a reasonable guy but do not interfere with this arrest.”.
Real talk: shouldn’t the police kind of be intervening when a civilian starts dictating the conditions of an official apprehension? It kind of seems like giving this guy free reign to abuse citizen rights is as much as a hazard as the car service he’s attempting to shut down.

And hey, I should also probably mention that Uber aren’t exactly saints in this situation either. Their anti-Lyft tactics are anything but defendable if not still technically legal most places in the world. Then again, the amount of horrible experiences most of us have had in taxis compared to Ubers highlight the need for some kind of change in the industry.

Regardless, someone needs to explain to this jerk-for-hire the approaches to effective policing. You can fine the drivers as much as you like, the problem will persist for as long as the people actually running Uber are able to continue operating. Then again, a systematic shutdown probably wouldn’t give you the same dizzying “I used to be a cop once” head rush that intimidating the little man does.
Maybe if he spent as much time actually driving his rental vehicle as he did haranguing other car drivers, it would result in fair, open competition that would benefit everyone involved. I guess there’s just not much fun in trying to create a fair industry for someone who clearly enjoys aggressive standover tactics and snitching. I wonder why he ever left the police force?


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