Dear Editor: We cannot live in this great free country we call America without law and order. It is what makes our freedoms secure and subsequently our lives happier.
All of our laws have been made and designed to be carried out with an abundance of thought and context to real life happenings. Therefore, we should accept and respect them as we have made them. Since medieval times, ordinary citizens have had a right to keep sanity and peace when they have seen a law be encroached upon. For an example, the sheriffs in medieval England would encourage residents to hold suspected criminals in custody until the proper authorities arrived.
This perhaps was the creation of the citizen’s arrest. As citizens, we already play an integral part in our legal system by being jurors – empowered to set people free or put them behind bars. We also play an important part in our legal system when we provide testimony as witnesses of incidents or witnesses of character.
More significantly, we put our chosen public servants in office and have the right to change some legalities by ballot. Thus, whether we all realize it or not we have some expressed and implied power for keeping our democracy the way we have agreed for it to be.
More specifically the sheriff of any South Carolina county could be put under citizen’s arrest for allegedly committing a felony – or in other circumstances. In this particular circumstance, the sheriff of Berkeley County may have easily been presumed to have committed a serious offense since there was bodily injury to the victim and since a good-natured citizen may have not known the extent of what happened.
That would have given the citizen a valid reason to ask the sheriff to wait until the proper authorities arrived.
This incident with sheriff Wayne Dewitt could have happened in a small town or unincorporated community where the immediacy of the matter could not be addressed in a fair amount of time. So, a citizen might have been needed to help in that case – or a case in which an officer had a medical emergency and could not apprehend a suspect and the citizen had knowledge of what transpired.
Above all we should recognize that we all have a stake in the system always and should participate wisely to ensure we make it the best system for all.
Jordan, Thanks for your letter! I agree …