Sunday, June 20, 2010

To Protect And To Serve? "No Way" - Courts

Police under no legal obligation to protect citizens under attack

Central Texans and the rest of the world were subjected to
the world's most protracted demonstration of police power
vis a vis armed citizen resistance to attack.

It happened at the Branch Davidian Compound near the rural
McLennan County community of Elk, Texas, on February 28,
1993, when BATFE agents clad in Kevlar armor and black Ninja
suits stormed the multi-family residence and a shootout
resulted in the deaths of 4 agents and wounding of numerous
Davidians. The situation rapidly deteriorated into an armed

If you own a television set, you know the end result.

The place burned down in a matter of minutes more than a
month later, costing the lives of most of the people,
including innocent children, who were still inside.

What caused that hassle?

Would you believe it was politics?

It's simple enough. That particular weekend in 1993, the
Texas Legislature voted out a Concealed Carry Handgun Law
that would allow citizens to conceal pistols under their
clothing and use them to defend themselves and others from
the vicious attacks of criminals.

They were prompted by a number of insane attacks by gunmen
bent on killing everyone in sight, such as the rampage of
George Hennard at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen.

Long before police could respond to the emergency, he had
mowed down a large number of innocent people.

It just so happened that a liberal Democrat, Governor Ann
Richards, had vowed to veto any concealed carry handgun bill
as soon as it hit her desk.

That same weekend, the largest association of Chiefs of
Police in the world was holding their convention at Austin.
They had descended in large numbers on legislators' offices
at the Capitol, begging them, "Please, don't do this.

"We don't want a bunch of armed yahoos, amateurs untrained
in police science, wandering around with deadly weapons
concealed in holsters under ther clothing and in their

As soon as the conservative Republican George W. Bush was
elected Governor, he signed another version of the bill
before the ink was dry on the document. It was a campaign
promise and he made good on it immediately.

Anyone who tells you it's unnecessary to be armed and ready
to defend yourself, family and friends with any means
necessary, including deadly firearms, is trying to sell you
on the notion that the state and the armed police officers
employed by the state will be able to protect you from

It's just not true. Take a look at the record; look at the
case law; read the statutes. It's an eye opener.

You are sitting in your living room late on a weekday
evening. Suddenly, there is a loud knock at the door and
people outside shouting. When you crack the door to take a
peek, someone throws his weight against it and bursts

Your home has just been invaded by three men who think you
have a large quantity of drugs stashed inside. They're
wrong, but they won't believe you and you wind up with your
hands taped behind your back, gagged with a pair of your own
socks while they ransack your home.

As this drama began to unfold, you frantically called 9-1-1,
but no one ever arrived at your home to protect you. After
all, where is the crime? Someone knocked on the door?

Big deal.

Guess what.

The police are under no legal obligation whatsoever to do
so. They don't have to protect you. It's just not their

"To protect and to serve" looks great when it's a decal
applied to the side of a black and white.

In the black and white world of the law libraries, amid
dozens upon dozens of court cases, the slogan is just an
empty and idle thing to emblazon upon the side of a police
car. It just doesn't figure.

No way. No how.

There is no such holding, no such legal doctrine under the
law of the land.

Many judges and appellate justices - state and federal -
have held that police officers are in no way negligent when
they fail to heed pleas for protection or respond to summons
to homes or places of business where violent perpetrators
are having their way.

Who is responsible?

You are responsible.

It's the truth. Judges have charged ordinary citizens with
the responsibility for their own protection.

The police not only cannot protect you, they don't even have
to come when you call.

Heed the wisdom of a widely published practicing attorney,
Richard W. Stevens, a Washington, D.C. - based lawyer who
penned a comprehensive discussion on the subject in "The
Freeman: Ideas On Liberty."

Mr. Stevens recounts several chilling incidents that led to
holdings in landmark cases. One of them regards the
experience of three women and a child in his hometown,

In the pre-dawn hours of March 16, 1975, two men knocked on
the door of a three-story home housing two families and
demanded entry where they had no right to intrude.

The women called police who came to the home under a low
priority dispatch, did a quick walk-around in the yard and
knocked on the doors, but, getting no response, went on
their way.

After the police cleared out, the men returned and broke
down the door. They raped one of the women, a lady who
lived on the second floor. When she screamed, her house
mates called police again.

They told them of the sexual assault that was by then taking
place downstairs in their home. The dispatcher promised help
was on the way.

The police never arrived.

During the next 14 hours, the two assailants kidnapped,
robbed, repeatedly raped and beat all three women.

Following their ordeal, they sued the city for negligence
and the trial court in that jurisdiction ruled to affirm the
"fundamental principle that a government and its agents are
under no general duty to provide public services, such as
police protection, to any particular individual citizen."
(Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1,4 (D.C. 1981)

On appeal, the highest court in that jurisdiction upheld the
decision of the trial court.

In most states, the law is the same. Kansas precludes
citizens from suing the government or the police for
negligently failing to to provide police or fire protection.

Some states apply the "sovereign immunity" defense, a
throwback to the days when subjects were forbidden to sue
the King. Others apply what is ironically called the
"public duty" doctrine. "Police owe a duty to protect the
public in general, but not to protect any prarticular

A California law states that "neither a public entity nor a
public employee is liable for failure to establish a police
department or otherwise provide police protection services."
A state appellate court wrote, "Police officers have no
affirmative statutory duty to do anything." (Souza v. City
of Antioch, 62 California Reporter, 2d 909, 916, Cal. App.

But it's the same from the east coast to the west coast.

Consider the case of Ford v. Town of Grafton (693 N.E. 2d
1047, Mass App. 1998).

Though Catherine Ford obtained a court order to stop her
husband James from harrassing and abusing her following
their separation, police did nothing much to prevent his bad
behavior, which extended, unpredictably, "around the clock."

One officer went so far as to suggest she "get a gun."

She didn't do that. Catherine took the statist view, a
social contract that goes something like this.

Police are certified, legally armed; therefore, police
should protect her from violence and threatened violence,
since she is a non-violent citizen.

For the next 15 months, James threatened to kill her and her
family. Police did nothing to protect her.

When he made his final threat on January 16, 1986, she
reported, once again, that he was prowling her house, making
threats to kill her.

At 8 p.m. the following day, he began to break down her back
door and she fled through the front door, dashing across
multiple lanes of moving traffic and beating on neighbors'

No one would let her come inside.

No one made any move to protect her.

James shot Catherine three times, leaving her paralyzed for
the rest of her life.

A Massachusetts Court held that the city was not liable.

Though the police were obliged to arrest James for his
repeated violations of the court order, Catherine had been
told repeatedly that the police were unable to protect her.

Therefore, the court order that was supposed to restrain
James and protect Catherine "did not amount to an assurance
of safety or assistance."

Because she got no assurances of safety from the police, she
had no legal right to rely on the police to protect her.
The Court dismissed her case.

Had she chosen to get a firearm and take a training course
in defensive handgun tactics, she might have been able to
protect herself.

According to statistics, ordinary citizens use firearms two
million times each year to protect themselves from attacks
by criminals. (Kleck, Gary and Gertz, Mark, "Armed
Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-
Defense with a Gun," "Journal of Criminal Law and
Criminology," 14 (1995), p. 86)

1 comment:

  1. This post is totally factual. In fact, the reason police are armed is to protect themselves. They seldom arrive on time even with the best of intentions to stop a robbery or an assault. As a free citizen knowledgeable about police matters, I don't want governments to assume they are obligated to protect me as an individual. That is what is happening in England and it is resulting in crime getting worse because the police still can't predict when and where a crime will take place and they have disarmed and yes, criminalized self-defense by its citizens. Two events lately are a British Army veteran convicted of felonious possession of a fire arm when he took an abandoned gun he found to a police station to turn in and a lady who scared off a rapist with a kitchen knife was cited for threatening the criminal with a deadly weapon. Oh and by the way, if British police fail to protect you, you still can't sue them.