When I was leader of a team of official United States Observers traveling in Europe to observe a major NATO exercise, I utilized both military and commercial aircraft and noted that Europe was much more of a police state than the U.S. with machine-gun wielding security at all major airports. That was about 30 years ago and security has been increased exponentially since then. Even so, here are a couple of headlines from this year:
BELGIANS HAVE A REALLY BIG PROBLEM’: ANTI-TERROR POLICE ARE OVERWHELMED BY JIHADISTS WHO THREATEN THE COUNTRY
REPORT ON COLOGNE NEW YEAR’S ASSAULTS SAYS OVERWHELMED POLICE DIDN’T SEEK BACKUP
Here are some of the findings in Cologne, Germany I took from newspapers:
“An internal police report reveals officers “could not cope” with the volume of attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
Women were ‘forced to run the gauntlet’ through gangs of drunken and aggressive men outside the station.
Police say the number of reported crimes from the incident has risen to 121, about three-quarters of which involve sexual assault.
They have identified 16 suspects, but have made no new arrests.”
During my last military command one of my responsibilities was Air Base Defense so I’m not a neophyte. However, over the years I have come to believe that an important key to self-defense and probably the most important aspect is self-reliance when police protection isn’t enough.
All our lives, especially during our younger years, we heard that the police are there to protect us. From my first kindergarten class in Mountain Home, Arkansas with Miss Clarice Wilks, we learned to respect police. It is common for “Officer Friendly” to visit classrooms today. Most police cars are emblazoned with “To Protect and Serve” and we’re encouraged to give ourselves over to police protection. On the police SUV image, “To Protect and Serve” is in small print on the front fender.
Relaxing in our easy chairs and expecting police to protect us from the bad guys hasn’t always been the American and European way. Before the mid-1800s, American and British citizens – even in large cities – were expected to protect themselves and each other. Indeed, they were legally required to pursue and attempt to apprehend criminals. The notion of a police force in those days was abhorrent in England and America, where liberals viewed it as a form of the dreaded “standing army.”
England’s first police force, in London, was not instituted until 1827. The first such forces in America followed in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia during the period between 1835 and 1845. They were established only to augment citizen self-protection. It was never intended that they act affirmatively, prior to or during criminal activity or violence against individual citizens. Their duty was to protect society as a whole by deterrence; i.e., by systematically patrolling, detecting and apprehending criminals after the occurrence of crimes. There was no thought of police displacing the citizens’ right of self-protection, nor could they even if that was the intent.
Even if all 800,000 American police officers were assigned to patrol, they could not protect 300 million citizens from upwards of 20 million criminals who enjoy the luxury of deciding when and where to strike. But we have nothing like 800,000 patrol officers; to determine how many police are actually available for any one shift, we must divide the 800,000 by four (three shifts per day, plus officers who have days off, are on sick leave, etc.). The resulting number must be cut in half to account for officers assigned to investigations, juvenile, records, laboratory, traffic, etc., rather than patrol.
Such facts are underscored by the practical reality of today’s society. Police and Sheriff’s departments are feeling the financial exigencies of our times that translates directly to a reduction of services, e.g., even less protection. Another fact that might surprise you is that thousands of 911 calls are dropped as are general calls to police departments. About 70% of 911 calls are made from cell phones and we know how reliable they are when you need them.
It is, therefore, a fact of law and of practical necessity that individuals are responsible for their own personal safety and that of their loved ones. Police protection must be recognized for what it is: only an auxiliary general deterrent.
Because the police have no general duty to protect individuals, judicial remedies are not available for their failure to protect. In other words, if someone is injured because they expected but did not receive police protection, they cannot recover damages by suing (except in very special cases). Despite a long history of such failed attempts, however, many, people persist in believing the police are obligated to protect them, attempt to recover when no protection was forthcoming and are emotionally demoralized when the recovery fails. Legal annals abound with such cases.
Many states have specifically precluded such claims, barring lawsuits against State or local officials for failure to protect, by enacting statutes such as California’s Government Code, Sections 821, 845, and 846 which state, in part: “Neither a public entity or a public employee [may be sued] for failure to provide adequate police protection or service, failure to prevent the commission of crimes and failure to apprehend criminals.” Exactly who is your state government looking out for, YOU or the government?
It is painfully clear that the police cannot be relied upon to protect us. Thus far we’ve seen that they have no duty to do so. And we’ve also seen that even if they did have a duty to protect us, practically- speaking they could not fulfill it with sufficient certainty that we would want to bet our lives on it.
Now it’s time to take off the gloves, so to speak, and get down to reality. So the police aren’t duty-bound to protect us, and they can’t be expected to protect us even if they want to. Does that mean that they won’t protect us if they have the opportunity?
One of the leading cases on this point dates way back into the 1950s. A certain Ms. Riss was being harassed by a former boyfriend, in a familiar pattern of increasingly violent threats. She went to the police for help many times, but was always rebuffed. Desperate because she could not get police protection, she applied for a gun permit, but was refused that as well. On the eve of her engagement party she and her mother went to the police one last time pleading for protection against what they were certain was a serious and dangerous threat. And one last time the police refused. As she was leaving the party, her former boyfriend threw acid in her face, blinding and permanently disfiguring her.
Her case against the City of New York for failing to protect her was, not surprisingly, unsuccessful. The lone dissenting justice of New York’s high court wrote in his opinion: “What makes the City’s position [denying any obligation to protect the woman] particularly difficult to understand is that, in conformity to the dictates of the law [she] did not carry any weapon for self-defense. Thus, by a rather bitter irony she was required to rely for protection on the City of New York which now denies all responsibility to her.” Unfortunately, instances of police refusing to protect someone in grave danger, who is urgently requesting help, are becoming disturbingly more common. I won’t go into more cases but you can Google them.
Remember, even if the police were obligated to protect us (which they aren’t), or even if they always tried to protect us (which they often don’t), most often there wouldn’t be time enough for them to do it. It’s about time that we came to grips with that, and resolved never to abdicate responsibility for our personal safety and that of our loved ones to anyone else.
I am a strong supporter of police and a graduate of the local Citizen’s Police Academy. I’m not advocating that we abolish the police but I believe we need a more robust backup when police are overwhelmed. I believe that backup should be citizen based. War has come to America and America is simply not ready. With violent gangs, ISIS in all 50 states and probably 35 million illegal aliens in America, things will get much worse before they get better.