POLICE HAVE NO DUTY TO PROTECT YOU

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Growing up, I was around law enforcement most of my childhood. This was because a family member worked for an agency for 34 years. Back then, in law enforcement, all sworn officers were required by law to protect life. After 9-11, while I was in law enforcement, it started changing from protecting to harassing, surveillance, and collecting. In fact the Supreme Court held, in 2018, that law enforcement have no duty to protect citizens. This was following the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A federal judge ruled that the government agencies “had no constitutional duty to protect students who were not in custody.

That decision adds to a growing body of case law establishing that government agencies — including police agencies — have no duty to provide protection to citizens in general: “Neither the Constitution, nor state law, impose a general duty upon police officers or other governmental officials to protect individual persons from harm — even when they know the harm will occur,” said Darren L. Hutchinson, a professor and associate dean at the University of Florida School of Law. “Police can watch someone attack you, refuse to intervene and not violate the Constitution.” The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the government has only a duty to protect persons who are “in custody,” he pointed out.

The US Supreme Court has made it clear that law enforcement agencies are not required to provide protection to the citizens who are forced to pay the police for their “services.” In the cases DeShaney vs. Winnebago and Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales, the supreme court has ruled that police agencies are not obligated to provide protection of citizens. In other words, police are well within their rights to pick and choose when to intervene to protect the lives and property of others — even when a threat is apparent.

In both of these court cases, clear and repeated threats were made against the safety of children — but government agencies chose to take no action. A consideration of these facts does not necessarily lead us to the conclusion that law enforcement agencies are somehow on the hook for every violent act committed by private citizens. This reality does belie the often-made claim, however, that police agencies deserve the tax money and obedience of local citizens because the agencies “keep us safe.”

Nevertheless, we are told there is an agreement here — a “social contract” — between government agencies and the taxpayers and citizens. And, by the very nature of being a contract, we are meant to believe this is a two-way street. The taxpayers are required to submit to a government monopoly on force, and to pay these agencies taxes. In return, these government agents will provide services. In the case of police agencies, these services are summed up by the phrase “to protect and serve” — a motto that has in recent decades gone by the wayside. What happens when those police agencies don’t protect and serve? That is, what happens when one party in this alleged social contract doesn’t keep up its end of the bargain. | The answer is: very little.

The taxpayers will still have to pay their taxes and submit to police agencies as lawful authority. If the agencies or individual agents are forced to pay as a result of lawsuits, it’s the taxpayers who will pay for that too. Oh sure, the senior leadership positions may change, but the enormous agency budgets will remain, the government agents themselves will continue to collect generous salaries and pensions, and no government will surrender its monopoly on the use of force.

We must remember that all law enforcement are our “public servants” and hold them to the most highest standards. We should remind them everyday that they wear that badge to protect our Constitutional rights, not to protect their ego and power!

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