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  • Robert Farago

The Police Have No Duty to Protect You


Serve yes, protect no

I ran into a TTAE reader outside the elevator. “I enjoyed the dildo post,” he averred. “I don’t like the gun stuff.” I got the distinct impression he was steeling himself for some kind of right-wing gun nut pushback. Nope.

In The Land of the Free, owning and/or carrying a gun is a personal choice (void where prohibited by law). There are lots of good reasons not to exercise your natural, civil and Constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms.

You don’t want a lethal weapon in your house (or Mel Gibson if you’re Jewish) lest a young child or unstable adult create a terrible tragedy. You suffer from uncontrollable anger or debilitating depression. You think no one except the military and police should have a gun.

No Argument Here

I’m happy to debate the last one, but I feel no compulsion to do so.

Vehement anti-gunners are as insensible to rational argument as fundamentalist Christians are to evolution. Presenting either group with inconvenient facts only upsets them (#ignoranceisarmor).

As someone not infrequently accused of being an asshole, I don’t need to stir that particular pot. When pressed, I’ll trot-out two indisputable facts.

When Seconds Count The Police Are Only Minutes Away

Criminals don’t make appointments. Only the dumbest of the dumb commit crime in front of law enforcement. The chances of a police officer being right there when you and/or your family are the victim of a crime are perishingly small.

Yes, the cops will show up afterwards. It may even be soon afterwards. If you’re lucky they might apprehend the bad guy and set the slow-grinding wheels of justice in motion. But when push comes to shove, when you’re being shoved, it’s all you.

If you go about your life unarmed, you’re taking your chances. So be it. Admittedly, it’s a pretty safe bet. The odds of being a victim of violent crime are relatively low – depending on where you live and how often you buy non-prescription drugs. But not zero. Never zero.

Serve and Protect is More of A Guideline Than a Rule

Here’s the kicker: even if the police are there when things go seriously south, they have no legal obligation to protect you.

Said the Supreme Court inWarren v. District of Columbia. The ambulance chasers at trafficlawguys.com tell the tale, and it ain’t pretty.

Four women lived in a boarding house. One lived on the 2nd floor with her 4 year old daughter, and two lived on the third floor. Two men broke into the house and proceeded to assault and rape the woman on the second floor. The women on the third floor, hearing the screaming and cries from the floor below, called the police and were assured help was on the way, only to watch the police drive by the house, knock on the door and leave when no one answered. The two women on the third floor then called the police (again) and were assured (again) that help was on the way. The police never came, but thinking the police might be in the house, the two women called out to the third woman being assaulted. The two assailants became aware of the other women in the house. The assailants proceeded to kidnap the three adult women at knife point and rape and beat them for the next 14 hours. The three women sued the District of Columbia based on numerous failures of the police department, but their case was dismissed at the trial court level. The Supreme Court of the United States explained that it is a “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.”

More recently (last week), NYPD officer Manual Morales was caught on video standing and watching as two men beat the shit out of his lieutenant. For 68 seconds.

New York’s Finest reassigned Morales to desk duty, but he had no legal obligation to help his fellow officer. Or anyone else.

You’re On Your Own

Yes, police rescue residents in distress hundreds of times a day. Risking their lives to protect innocent citizens. And not so innocent citizens.

The basic point remains: in the vast majority of violent crimes, you’re on your own. Sometimes, even when you’re not.

Believing that the “thin blue line” protects you against crime – violent or otherwise – is dangerously naive and legally unsound.

The Truth About Guns?

I believe all Americans should have an unimpeded right to keep and bear arms if they so choose.

If they don’t, they should be encouraged to practice situational awareness and carry some form of non-lethal defensive weapon. I also believe the schools should teach children gun safety and self-defense skills.

That’s it. And… that ain’t gonna happen. Many if not most people prefer to live in blissful ignorance of the horrific, life-changing threats that are out there, somewhere.

To my elevator amigo: a final thought. I value innocent life. Mine, my family’s and yours. I make no apologies for continuing that effort here.

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