This article is from the Lawful Arrest/Search/Seizure FAQ, by Ahimsa Dhamapada firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Military Troops, Police Forces, etc. follow the orders of
their commanders, and these orders come in 2 varieties:
Direct Orders ("You go do this now!") and Standing Orders.
A Standing Order is a "general order" to be obeyed if some
condition comes into existence in the future. Note that
a standing order is made at some time prior to the event,
and is non-specific as to the name of the accused.
"ARREST ANYONE YOU SEE JAYWALKING!"
...is a standing order; it is general and non-specific (it
does not name the accused) and is made before the event,
and in anticipation of the event. It is issued by a Police
commander to his troops.
"ARREST MR. JOE R. BLOE, 123 MAIN STREET. HE IS ACCUSED
OF ROBBING HIS NEIGHBOR, JANE DECENT, WHO HAS SIGNED A
COMPLAINT AGAINST HIM."
...is the opposite of a standing order: it is a specific
Warrant. It names the accused and the crime, and it is
reactive; it comes AFTER the event. It is initiated by
the complaint of a civilian.
Police officers today generally have (or *think* they
have!) standing orders to detain, search, and/or arrest
those *they feel* violated a law. The Founding Fathers
were very much opposed to this kind of discretionary
power being placed in the hands of ANY one person (and is
evident by the general design of the Federal Government:
the distribution of power across 3 branches, the system of
"checks and balances", etc).
The Founders intended for there to be a civilian defense
force, and for it to be reactive to the needs of the
people, for they knew that an autonomous (self-directed)
police force or standing army is ultimately unaccountable
to the People, and uncontrollable by the People, and
thus a thing to be feared. They knew, because they were
occupied by a tyrannical force, the English Army. Today,
the conditions are similar, however, while it isn't a
foreign army that occupies us, the abuses against the
people are the same.
There are 2 elements of the Fourth Amendment that were
intended to prevent Standing Orders from being executed
against the people:
The first is the "oath or affirmation": a sworn civilian
complaint, and the second is that warrants must be
specific. Both are intended to remove the discretion
of arrest/search/seizure from the arresting officer,
and provides the needed "checks and balances".
If the complaint MUST ALWAYS come from a civilian (i.e.,
not the government; not the arresting authority) this
eliminates the invocation of "general" or standing orders
(and a big conflict of interest!), and ensures that the
Police Force is *reactive*, and not self-directed. If ALL
arrests/searches/seizures are documented with the specific
justifications of the action (the warrant), this also
removes the arbitrary discretion from the officer.
The Fourth Amendment requires both specific Warrants and
that the complaint be initiated by a civilian, and thus
prohibits the police from executing "Standing Orders"
against the people. However in modern America, when
the police arrest someone, there is rarely a specific
warrant, and rarely is there the "oath or affirmation" of
a complaining civilian. The lawyers, political pundits,
corporate-owned "free press", and even college textbooks
will argue why this is "necessarily so", but the simple
o Most Police actions in America lack a injured victim
(except for perhaps the accused!), thus,
o Most Police actions in America lack Probable Cause, thus
o Most Police actions in America lack a valid Warrant, thus
o Most Police actions in America are Unconstitutional.