Originally Posted by nitestalker
The origin of the American civil police servant differs from most other nations. American pioneers ventured into the frontiers and set up governments. In Canada for example the Law went first and established its presence. At Boonesboro, Ky. citizens set up a system of law after they arrived. This set up a system where law enforcement is responsible to the American citizens.
This is incorrect. Here's some Law Enforcement History 101
American "police" trace their heritage back to the "shire reefs" of Europe, (later shortened to Sheriff.) The office of sheriff traveled to the new world with the colonists. In fact in 1634 the Colony of Virginia was divided into 8 "shires" and a guy named "William Stone" was elected the first sheriff.
The pattern of all modern law enforcement is as follows: when a formal government is set in place, it begins to pass laws. Once laws are passed it must have some type of law enforcement to enforce those laws. If the government does not have or rely on the military to do this, then law enforcement officers are elected by the people or selected by the government (usually FROM the people it governs.) Nitestalker's example of Boonesboro supports this.
Law enforcement's basic job is to enforce laws. It answers to the government it is commissioned by, not the citizens it must enforce the law upon. If law enforcement were answerable to the citizens first and the government second then enforcing the law would be impossible because every citizen would be able to give law enforcement officers direct orders to which that officer would be obliged to comply. So when a citizen violated the law and law enforcement showed up to enforce it the citizen could order the law enforcement officer to stop enforcing the law and leave them alone and he would have to comply.
The advantage of traditional American government is that the governing bodies themselves (not law enforcement directly) is answerable to the citizens. [And the citizens are supposed make/support the laws that are passed. (Now obviously things don't work like that all the time now because our government has grown bloated and corrupt.)] Law enforcement officers swear to enforce the laws and constitutions of the United States, state, parish and city that they work in.
If a United States citizen has a problem with law enforcement properly enforcing a law, their problem is actually with the government that passed the law. The officer making the arrest is simply executing what the government passed. Make sense?
Traditionally the first line of defense was the individual citizen.
This is correct in general, but not correct in its context because it is referring to America only. The first line of defense has been the individual (usually the head of the household) since before formal government existed in every country in the world.
Anyone who lived in areas where law enforcement was nonexistant, or a long distance away or where law enforcement was overwhelmed kept law and order for themselves. This "tradition" goes back thousands of years and predates the advent of law enforcement which is attributed to the babylonians due to a statement recorded in a letter from Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 600 B.C.
Self defense and the ability to defend your loved ones and property from those who would cause them harm is a basic human right and has been since the time of Cain and Abel and is not something that a government or police force should ever attempt to take away. Even when an elected representative government does so through legislation it is a violation of a basic human right and should be cause for a change in government.
All this is covered in the first class taught in the police academy and I have pages and pages of material on it. I have barely scratched the surface, but hopefully i have done a decent job breaking the concept down and you guys will get the basic idea from my ramble.
Edit: obviously police brutality type stuff is an exception to the above post. The police are then in violation of the laws they are supposed to enforce and answerable to both the government who wrote the law and usually through actions through that body that are taken by the citizen, aka criminal charges being pressed and lawsuits being filed and requests for amendments or repealing of the law being enforced at the time.