|1.||(Law) The power of the county, or the citizens who may be summoned by the sheriff to assist the authorities in suppressing a riot, or executing any legal precept which is forcibly opposed.|
|2.||A collection of people; a throng; a rabble.|
|Noun||1.||posse comitatus - a temporary police force|
POSSE COMITATUS. These Latin words signify the power of the county.
2. The sheriff has authority by the common law, while acting under the authority of the writ of the United States, commonwealth or people, as the case may be, and for the purpose of preserving the public peace, to call to his aid the posse comitatus.
3. But with respect to writs which issue, in the first instance, to arrest in civil suits, the sheriff is not bound to take the posse comitatus to assist him in the execution of them: though he may, if he pleases, on forcible resistance to the execution of the process. 2 Inst. 193; 3 Inst. 161.
4. Having the authority to call in the assistance of all, it seems to follow, that he may equally require that of any individual; but to this general rule there are some exceptions; persons of infirm health, or who want understanding, minors under the age of fifteen years, women, and perhaps some others, it seems, cannot be required to assist the sheriff, and are therefore not considered as a part of the power of the county. Vin. Ab. Sheriff, B.
5. A refusal on the part of an individual lawfully called upon to assist the officer in putting down a riot is indictable. 1 Carr. & Marsh. 314. In this case will be found the form of an indictment for this offence.
6. Although the sheriff is acting without authority, yet it would seem that any person who obeys his command, unless aware of that fact, will be protected.
7. Whether an individual not enjoined by the sheriff to lend his aid, would be protected in his interference, seems questionable. In a case where the defendant assisted sheriff's officers in executing a writ of replevin without their solicitation, the court held him justified in so doing. 2 Mod. 244. Vide Bac. Ab. Sheriff, N; Hamm. N. P. 63; 5 Whart. R. 437, 440.