In "Homefront", after Joseph Sisko refuses to submit to a bloodtest, Jake tells his dad he needs to come to the restaurant because "Grandpa's been arrested". When Captain Sisko arrives, he finds Jake and Joseph arguing with the Starfleet officers who were supposed to have been administering the test.

Starfleet, as an exploration/defense organization has always been positioned as analogous to a military force in terms of mission, organization, etc with little authority over civilians. In addition, this takes place before the imposition of martial law. Where, then, do Starfleet officers get the authority to arrest civilians?


is the arrested person a civilian? Or is he a military man of some rank (maybe on inactive duty)? We also no doubt don't see the entirety of Starfleet's duties. It's quite possible (and from the scale of their facilities we can see in several movies and series episodes this is likely) that they have far broader powers and responsibilities than mere space exploration and defence. Having a police force (maybe in cooperation with local forces) is a logical part of having to police planets undergoing colonisation, piracy on space lanes, smuggling, etc.. To have to defer to local forces exclusively whenever an investigation of something like smuggling would cross jurisdictions is to say the least inefficient (and even today there are many joint task forces, shared responsibilities, and areas of overlap between agencies).

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    "Grandpa" is a civilian in this case. He's the father of a Starfleet Captain though. – user1027 Jul 25 '11 at 14:48
  • I hadn't considered that, but you're right - it makes sense that Starfleet would have (at the very least) a few people dedicated to maintaining relationships with more dedicated law enforcement agencies. The idea of them running a joint operation, especially on such a large scale, isn't unreasonable. – larissa Jul 26 '11 at 0:49
  • Also, he wasn't really arrested in the police sense where he's taken into custody, booked on charges and put in a cell. It was more of a "citizen's arrest", which almost anyone can do. It was temporary detainment on the rationale that his closeness to a vital military official abrogated some of his rights. This is analogous to secret service searching someone at a function the president is attending. They can't search ordinary citizens normally, but in that situation, it falls within their jurisdiction because presidential security is involved. The same would apply to Starfleet security. – Lèse majesté Jan 14 '12 at 7:38
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    @Lèsemajesté: If it's a member of the military that's doing it, it isn't a "citizen's arrest" (which I should point out typically requires you to have witnessed the person committing a felony) - it's a military abduction. – Jeff Jan 14 '12 at 15:45
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    I'd like to point out that Joseph Sisko wasn't actually arrested, in any perceptible way at least. Jake said that to his father, true, but his grasp of the situation may have been colored by emotion. When Capt. Sisko shows up in the next scene his father is still at his home/business and he is not being restrained. – 22nd Century Fza Dec 14 '13 at 4:54

The entire society in the TNG era was one which embraced an idealized socialism (initially very subtly) which Gene Roddenberry believed was an ideal to which humanity should strive - everyone is equal, there is no poverty, and the 'pursuit of material wealth is outmoded'.

After he passed on, the creative minds behind the series(es) looked at the ramifications and decided to show how this society would fare in interactions with dissimilarly minded species, and the effect it would have on the ever-present rogue element of humanity (there have always been and will always be people who want to seek new places and experiences, and not all of them are suited to military life).

Much of DS9 was created to show the dark side of socialism, in a sort of backlash against the idealism of TNG.

(Or you could just assume that the writers needed a motivating force and 'have him arrested' was the easy way out...but I prefer to grant the benefit of the doubt.)

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    Oh, there's also one other reason: Starfleet has all the guns. The can do whatever they want to civilians. Good thing the military-industrial complex has a strong sense of morality, huh? – Jeff Jul 25 '11 at 14:33
  • I seem to remember an episode where Picard tried to explain to someone from the 20th century that greed had been eliminated. I thought it hilarious at the time but chalked it up to fantasy. – Chad Jul 25 '11 at 15:27
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    Good Answer, one comment: I don't know that DS9 was specifically anti-socialism per se, but instead focuses more on how war pressures and twists even a utopian society to do things they would previously consider immoral or reprehensible. All the Quark and Ferenghi plots and episodes are clearly and strongly anti-capitalism. – Mark Rogers Jul 25 '11 at 19:24
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    @Mark aren't the Ferenghi the ultimate capitalists? i always got the impression that they felt everything is legal in the pursuit of profit, as long as you aren't caught. – Xantec Jul 25 '11 at 19:53
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    @Mason: Agreed, unfortunately they ignore the fact that humans NEVER take anything to it's logical conclusion...or that any society which really acted like the Ferengi would self-destruct quickly. – Jeff Jul 25 '11 at 21:54

Martial law isn't unheard of during wartime. Local government control might be suspended until the end of hostilities to streamline the war effort. We don't have to deal with changelings in our century and look at we're willing to do to people in the name of fighting terrorism. Or in the name of simply getting our numbers up.

  • This is a more logical answer – user24562 Apr 7 '14 at 18:40

Memory Alpha provides the reasoning:

When the Changelings threatened Earth in mid-2372, Starfleet Command adopted an official policy, recommended by Benjamin Sisko (acting as temporary head of Starfleet Security on Earth) requiring weekly blood screenings of all Starfleet personnel and their immediate families.

With the Federation as an analogy for the UN, and currently in a costly war with the Dominion, the Federation council would likely approve of this initial mandate, and member planets/governments would follow through.


Starfleet security is the Federation's police force. They are like a cross between Military Police (MPs) and Civilian Police. They have a much broader authority than seen in modern military forces because the Federation is not the American Government. Starfleet is very integrated into the Federation.

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    Actually, it's not unheard of for foreign militaries to act in a police capacity on their native soil, especially when dealing with suspected foreign agents. The only reason that we think it's strange for soldiers to perform domestic police duties is a post-civil-war act of Congress explicitly forbidding it... that was repealed a few years back. – DougM Dec 13 '13 at 6:30
  • @DougM - Posse Comitatus currently stands as "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Section 1021, clause "b", article 2 defines a 'covered person', i.e., someone possibly subject to martial law, as the following: "A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces." Otherwise, no military as police. – wbogacz Dec 13 '13 at 16:21
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    That's not Posse Comitatus, @wbogacz. In fact, it DOES say that the military can arrest a US citizen on American soil, so long as they supported the enemy. – DougM Dec 13 '13 at 17:56

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