Monday, March 21, 2005

Police Don't Have to Protect You

There must be more to this than what is reported in this article. Because if there isn't, this is bloody incredible.

Three times during the evening of the abduction, the mother had reported to the Castle Rock police that her girls were missing. She also had obtained a protective order during her divorce proceeding that required her husband to stay away from her house. The order also said police "shall" use all reasonable means to protect her and her children.

The officer who took her calls did nothing, except tell her to call back in two hours if the girls did not reappear.


"The reason is they're too busy," he said. Plenty of laws impose a duty on the government, he noted, "but that doesn't mean the victim has a right to enforce it" by suing, he added.


"Don't the police have an obligation to enforce" the protective order? Ginsburg asked.

No, Eastman replied.

"Can they just ignore all orders of this kind?" Stevens asked. Yes, said a Bush administration lawyer, although the failure to act may lead to a lawsuit in the state courts, he added.

WaPo has this article. With this interesting point about the 14th amendment with respect to another case.

The county's failure deprived the boy of his 14th Amendment right to liberty without due process of law, the mother argued. But the court ruled that the boy had no such "liberty interest" because the 14th Amendment does not require states to protect individual members of the public against harm caused by private parties.

The 14th Amendment, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the majority, "is phrased as a limitation on the State's power to act, not as a guarantee of certain minimal levels of safety and security; while it forbids the State itself to deprive individuals of life, liberty, and property without due process of law, its language cannot fairly be read to impose an affirmative obligation on the State to ensure that those interests do not come to harm through other means."

Hmmm. Very interesting. Where does this place self defense then? If the government has no obligation to protect you from another private party, how can they prevent you from protecting yourself from that private party? (i.e. Gun Control)

Several other articles do a better job in explaining the circumstances.

Castle Rock officials also say that Gonzales has wrongly characterized the police as unresponsive to her demands to find her daughters. Assistant Town Manager Fritz Sprague says police tried several times to find Simon Gonzales. Sprague says that Jessica Gonzales did not lead police to believe that her husband had a weapon or that the children were in imminent danger.

I still think this smells funny.


Granted said...

I've heard and read several reports on this. Most seem to agree on the basic facts. A few details that make it murkee are the fact that, while restrained under the order, the father was allowed to take the kids out once a week. How exactly that worked hasn't been explained any where that I saw. Further, the father never threatened the children prior to the incident. The spark for the restraining order was when he threatened to kill himself in front of the kids. During one of the phone calls the police dispatcher asked her if she thought he would harm the kids and she said no. So, while, as far as I'm concerned, this type of thing is another example of why you must have the strongest reasonable means of self-defense because the cops can't be there, I just can't see this one as the fault of the police department. That said, this is a bloody huge case. If they find for the defendant, they're basically saying that the cops have an actual obligation to protect people, which is a serious change in the law and will result in towns all over the country going belly up because of the liability insurance or lawsuits because the Police failed.

Nylarthotep said...

I'm on board with this can't be allowed to open a law-suit hell, but I can't take hearing the "police will protect you" mantra either. There is just far too much of that in the society now, and here is just another case where the law allows for what is called a protection, but they don't have to do anything to actually protect you.

Then you hear various law enforcement agencies stating you shouldn't be allowed certain devices to protect yourself and use the reason that the police will protect you. Look at England and that CF and you'll see where it leads to in the worst of cases. Or look at D.C. which is just a localized American version of the same thing.

I can understand law enforcement wanting to limit guns, because it makes their life safer. But they also shouldn't mind when they are told to STFU because their saftey makes the people, that they are supposed to protect, life's unsafe.