WHAT IS THE PRINCIPAL DUTY OF A COMMUNITY’S POLICE FORCE?
Do the police have a duty to protect American citizens if their life is in danger? If you were to ask the average American this question, you would likely obtain one of four basic responses: one, “of course they do;” or, two, “no they don’t;” or, three, “it depends on the circumstance;” or, four, “I don’t know.”
The disparity in responses is disconcerting as one would think the answer to this question would be straightforward and beyond dispute, given the enormity of it.
After all, when it comes to one’s life and safety from threats posed by a psychopathic criminal, or from a psychotic killer, or, when the threat to one’s life and safety arises from a domestic spat or from some other dispute among two or more people, that escalates to the level of a life and death situation, one should know whether a community’s police department does have a duty to protect the life, safety, and well-being of each American citizen whose life is threatened. The idea implicit in the statement is that an armed police officer, or, in the alternative, an armed and licensed personal bodyguard, serves as the most effective deterrent to a dangerous threat posed to an innocent person’s life, safety, and well-being, precisely because the defender of life is armed. No one can seriously doubt that.
And if, assuming a community’s police department does have a duty to come to the assistance of an innocent member of a community whose life is threatened by a would-be assailant, the question then becomes whether the police can and do provide a prompt response to that threat. Obviously, response time is a critical factor when an imminent threat to loss of life exists.
Now, public officials, such as mayors of cities and governors of States, do not have to concern themselves with police response time because they have armed police officers assigned to them. And, for the very wealthy, who can afford private armed security, police response time to a dangerous threat posed by a would-be assailant is not an issue either.
But, what about the average, law-abiding citizen—in other words, everyone else—who does not have access to a police security detail and who cannot afford the protection of an armed bodyguard? For common folk the issue of police response time is not an insignificant matter.
Of course, a police department’s response time is, understandably, subject to many factors. Still, where a few minutes or seconds may mean the difference between life and death, police response time should be immediate and not subject to doubt. Police response time, where an innocent person’s life is in the balance, must be quick and immediate. Americans should not have misgivings or any false belief about this. Reliance on prompt police response time is critical if the average American is to place his or her faith, alone, in the presence of armed police, to deter the threat to one’s life or to one’s family.
For those average, innocent, law-abiding persons who do place an abundance of faith in the ability and wherewithal of police to respond immediately to a 911 life and death emergency, there is the presumption—referring to the salient question posed at the beginning of this article—that “of course” a community’s police department has a legal duty, not merely an ethical or moral duty, to protect the life and safety of each innocent American whose life is threatened by a dangerous aggressor. But, is that true? If it isn’t, then those Americans who choose to place their faith alone in armed police to secure their life and safety and that of their family when faced with a life and death situation posed by an aggressor are sorely mistaken in their belief.
Placing misguided faith in a community’s police department to protect one’s life and that of one’s family when faced with a direct threat posed by an assailant can have catastrophic results when the need arises to rely on the police, and the police do not timely respond to that threat. In whom does blame, then, truly reside? And, apart from a moral or ethical imperative, if no legal duty exists, on the part of the police to come to the aid of any American when that American is confronted by an imminent threat to life, then where did a presumption of legal duty arise in the first place? Likely, the presumption derives from a common shibboleth, true enough, that the primary purpose of a police department is to preserve and protect the well-being of a community. But, does that purpose to preserve and protect the well-being of a community extend, legally and logically, to protection of the life, safety, and well-being of each individual resident of a community? The shibboleth undoubtedly was reinforced through a slogan that once appeared—but apparently no longer—on the side of many community police cruisers around the Country: “to preserve and protect.”
But, preserve and protect who? The meaning of the slogan is vague and ambiguous. Yet, many Americans still accept as self-evident true, even if the notion is only wishful thinking, the idea that a community’s police force does have a legal duty to come to the aid of each individual American resident whose life is endangered by a common criminal or crazed assailant.
Well, let’s suppose, for purpose of argument, this to be true. What does that really mean? It means that an innocent, law-abiding resident of a community has good reason to expect that the police will do their level best to come to the immediate assistance of an innocent law-abiding resident of a community whose life, safety, and well-being is imminently threatened, say, by an aggressive intruder; and, further, that a community’s police must come to the immediate assistance of an innocent law-abiding resident of a community whose life, safety, and well-being is in imminent threat.
Now, suppose the police do not respond in time to a threat to one’s life. Suppose that, through reckless indifference to a threat posed to a resident’s life and safety, or through simple or gross negligence, or even through an intentional, willful failure to respond to an immediate threat to a resident’s life and safety, a resident suffers serious injury or even death as a result of that imminent threat to a person’s life.
Does that resident have a legal cause of action against the police department for injury suffered, or, in the event of death, does the deceased person’s estate have a cause of action against the police department for wrongful death? Well, if the police in fact owe a duty to protect the life and safety of the individual residents of a community and fail for one reason or another to do so, then the issue before a Court of competent jurisdiction goes not to the issue of a legal duty of care which is presumed to exist, but goes at once to the issue of damages to be assessed to the Governmental entity through a police department’s negligence toward or willful disregard for the life, safety, and well-being of the affected resident. It is certainly problematic if the police do owe a duty to individual members of a community but fail to do so. But that doesn’t seem to be problematic to people who abhor guns and who do not countenance law-abiding civilians owning and possessing them.
It is disconcerting to those of us who choose to exercise our God-given, natural, fundamental, unalienable, and immutable right of the people to keep and bear arms for self-defense, and as a check against tyranny, to truly comprehend the position of those Americans who are vehemently, even virulently, opposed to an armed citizenry. For, while we can agree that antigun fanatics, who, being true to their convictions would choose, for themselves, not to possess a firearm, it is wholly unacceptable, legally and ethically, for those people to thrust their belief system onto everyone else who does wish to exercise the sacred right to possess firearms. Yet, time and time again, we see antigun zealots audaciously attempting to compel those of us who do not agree with them to forsake our firearms as well. Americans should keep this fact in mind when they go to the polls in November 2020.
ANTIGUN PROPONENTS PROMOTE “SOCIETAL” WELL-BEING AT THE COST OF THE WELL-BEING OF AMERICAN CITIZENS WHO COMPRISE THAT SOCIETY
These antigun zealots exhibit a cavalier attitude when asked how they propose to deal with predators who, at any given point in time, might pose a direct and very serious threat to their own life and safety. They may claim, as many in fact do, that the police will protect them. And, in making the claim, these antigun zealots attempt to avoid the issue of whether the police have a legal duty to do so at all, or these antigun zealots may simply perfunctorily and presumptively assume the police do in fact have such legal duty to come to the aid of Americans who face imminent threat to life and well-being, when the police really do not have such a duty to act.
Even so, what might one gain from the presumption of a legal duty on the part of police to deter a threat to the life of innocent Americans, if the police are unable to thwart an imminent threat to one’s life and well-being, in time, anyway? For one to dismiss concern on the ground, before the fact, that such attacks on an innocent person are rare would, in retrospect, provide a person little solace, indeed, when, in that rare instance, after the fact, one does come face-to-face with just such a threat to his or her life.
Curiously, these same people who oppose civilian possession of firearms argue for mass confiscation of semiautomatic weapons from law-abiding citizens—tens of millions of us who possess them—on the ground that a few lunatics might go off on a killing spree, when such instances of “mass killings” are few and far between, even as mainstream media accounts create the illusion that such events happen with great frequency, when, in fact, they do not.
Yet, for adherents of the tenets of Individualism, upon which the U.S. Constitution is grounded, the question of police responsibility for failure to respond to an imminent threat to one’s life, safety, and well-being may well be irrelevant, whether a legal duty exists or does not.
Americans who ascribe to the tenets of Individualism do not rely on the police, in the first instance, to protect them and their families against imminent threats posed by dangerous individuals. Proponents of the tenets of Individualism recognize their sacred, fundamental, natural, immutable, and unalienable right of self-defense—a primordial right codified in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and as reiterated in the U.S. Supreme Court 2008 Heller decision. Yet, the idea that a firearm offers the best means to protect one’s life and safety, should not come as a surprise to any rational person, even among those who adamantly oppose civilian ownership and possession of firearms.
For, among those people who are antithetical to civilian ownership and possession of firearms and do not and would not think of possessing a firearm for self-defense for themselves—who choose to place their life, safety, and well-being in the hands of the police exclusively—have chosen to place their life, safety, and well-being in the hands of the police precisely because the police carry firearms; suggesting, then, that because the police have firearms, no one else needs them.
So, even those people who abhor guns and fervently, even virulently, oppose civilian ownership and possession of firearms, and would never think of wielding a firearm themselves—leaving that responsibility to the police—know full well that armed protection against aggressive, dangerous assailants provides extremely effective protection against such threats. But, is it sensical or is it foolhardy to believe that the police will be at one’s disposal when one is in serious need of the police? The answer should be obvious. Such belief is foolhardy, and in the extreme whether the police have a legal duty to protect the life of an innocent American from a direct threat posed by an assailant, or not. That being so, the attempt of antigun zealots to constrain all of us who wish to exercise our right to keep and bear arms is indefensible, and that should and does rightly anger us.
If antigun zealots eschew possession of a firearm for self-defense themselves, that is certainly their prerogative. But, what is deeply disturbing and mystifying is that many of these same people presumptuously and audaciously dare to thrust their personal feelings about guns and gun ownership on everyone else—namely those Americans—tens of millions—who do wish to exercise their fundamental, natural, unalienable, immutable, and sacred right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.
It is strange, indeed, that in a free Republic, grounded on a Constitution that incorporates certain sacred, fundamental, natural, unalienable, and immutable rights codified in the Nation’s Bill of Rights, there would be many Americans who, abhorring guns and the exercise of the right to possess them, would seek to thrust their own value judgments and morality on the rest of us; those—the vast majority of us—who have chosen to exercise the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
For those members of society who abhor the very notion of firearms in the hands of the average, law-abiding civilian citizen, they take as self-evident true the idea that a community’s police department will in fact secure the life and safety of the average citizen. Such is the belief of Marxists, Socialists, Communists, and others who ascribe to the tenets of Collectivism: the idea that one need only place, and should be content to place, one’s faith in Government, rather than in one’s self, to provide for one’s basic needs, including defense of life; eschewing the very notion of an indisputable, fundamental, immutable, unalienable, absolute right of self-defense at all; and eschewing, especially, a sacred right to wield a firearm for self-defense.
NEW YORK’S GOVERNOR CUOMO AND MAYOR DE BLASIO FORCE AVERAGE CITIZENS TO RELY ON THE POLICE FOR ARMED PROTECTION, RATHER THAN UPON THEMSELVES
Among antigun proponents and zealots, apart from the hoi polloi of antigun zealots, there are the wealthy and powerful “elite” of American society. These people can ably afford to retain, and many of them do retain, private, licensed, armed bodyguards to provide for their protection and for that of their families.
The “elite” in American society don’t have any illusion about the inability of a community’s police department to provide adequate protection to an imminent threat to life, whether the police have a duty to provide such protection to individual members of a community, or not. Among those “elite” are Government officials, mayors and Governors who do have police security details assigned to them. Yet, these same “elite” of society disdain the idea that average Americans who do not have access to a personal police security detail and who can ill afford a private armed and licensed bodyguard should nonetheless be denied the right to purchase a firearm for their own protection.
Worse yet are those upper social strata antigun proponents, who, with their powerful political connections, carry a handgun for their personal protection and may have personal bodyguard protection as well, but are dismissive of average, law-abiding, responsible individuals possessing a firearm for their own protection.
Consider the position of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose infamous New York Safe Act does nothing to protect the safety of innocent New York residents but, instead, places innocent life in jeopardy by making it extremely difficult for the average law-abiding New York resident to exercise his or her Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. And, consider the remarks of the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio—the failed candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. President—who, with a smirk, refused, when repeatedly asked, to answer the critical question of Fox News host, Sean Hannity, not long ago, whether residents of New York City have the right to possess firearms for self-defense. Instead Bill de Blasio proffered that the police provide safety to New York residents, implying, then, that the average, law-abiding New York resident does not need a firearm.
Well, the police certainly do provide protection for de Blasio and for Governor Cuomo. No doubt about that! But, do New York’s police provide—can they in fact provide—protection for millions of law-abiding New York residents—who, at any given moment in time can, and often do, face serious threat to life and safety. De Blasio perfunctorily, matter-of-factly claims police do provide all the safety that New York residents need. The remark isn’t even remotely plausible in a City comprising millions of souls, and small finite number of police officers.
And, as the proponent of one of the Nation’s most restrictive gun laws, it’s clear that Governor Cuomo, for his part, isn’t at all concerned for the safety of innocent New York residents from very real and very dire threats posed by hardened criminals and by more than a few lunatics roaming the streets.
As with all proponents of the tenets of Collectivism, the concern isn’t for the health, safety, and well-being of individuals who comprise society, but for the Collective, for the Hive. Collectivists, such as Marxists, Socialists, and Communists, individuals are dispensable, like ants in an ant colony or bees in a beehive. So, it is all in vein that these people would eschew an armed citizenry and promote a well-armed Government.
We see this view on constant display in the spurious, simplistic, disingenuous, and condescending remarks of antigun politicians, like Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and in the remarks of the sordid group of Democratic Party Candidates for U.S. President. They know full well that armed police cannot possibly come to the aid of every individual, in every instance, who happens to face imminent threat to life and well-being from dangerous predators.
Yet, it is a common and tiresome refrain of antigun politicians, and of their friends in the mainstream media, and of the pretentious, sanctimonious, and ill-informed, members and hangers-on of antigun groups, that would dare deny to average, law-abiding, responsible American citizens the natural, fundamental, unalienable, and immutable right to defend themselves with a firearm, claiming that the police are, after all, around to protect the life, safety, and well-being of all Americans. Such is the naïve belief, engendered in equal parts self-delusion and deception.
But, is such faith that antigun proponents place in the notion that a community’s police department does in fact owe a duty of care not merely to the community as a whole, but to each member of it, legally sound, whether or not one might at least expect the police to have a moral duty to secure the life, safety and well-being of each member of a community? For, if, legal liability of a police department does not accrue for failure to secure the life, safety, and well-being of each member of a community, then the idea that the average, law-abiding American citizen should nonetheless be denied the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense loses any rational efficacy and is reduced to a bankrupt, empty policy position of the antigun movement on that ground alone. But we need not guess. There is an answer.
To answer the question of whether the police have a duty to protect each member of a community, we must consider the ramifications of the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the application of the legal concepts of ‘sovereign immunity,’ ‘qualified immunity,’ and of the ‘public and special duty doctrines.’
If a community’s police department does have a duty to secure the life, safety, and well-being of each member of a community, then it is necessary to explore the legal aspects of such duty if such duty exists at all. This issue cannot be reduced to simplistic and dismissive political, rhetorical soundbites and antigun messaging, asserted by arrogant, deceitful, condescending blowhards like Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and many other politicians who adamantly oppose guns in the hands of the average law-abiding, responsible American citizen. But no American should fall for those ploys. Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio and other politicians like him, weave wild fables. They oversimplify, obfuscate and deceive.
Unfortunately, it is a common and tiresome refrain of antigun politicians, and of the mainstream media, and of pretentious, sanctimonious antigun groups, that would deny to average, law-abiding, responsible, rational American citizens the absolute right to defend themselves with a firearm, as these politicians claim that the police are, after all, there to protect the life, safety, and well-being of each American; so, then, a person doesn’t need a firearm for self-defense. Really? Are we to take that bald assertion on faith?
What, really, is the truth behind the presumption espoused by many politicians and the media and which many Americans have come to believe, namely that the police have a duty to protect and preserve a community? What does that even mean?
Does the duty of the police to protect a community from imminent threat to life, safety, and well-being actually extend to all of the individuals in it, or is that a deliberately deceptive conflation of police function that antigun proponents of all stripes have have sought to convey to the American public to obscure the fact that the police really don’t have such a duty of care at all; and that they have created a myth and have promoted it to make confiscation of firearms among civilians more palatable, suggesting, then, that civilian ownership and possession of firearms for self-defense is unnecessary and therefore, seemingly, unreasonable.
Is this, then, the reason behind the idea of a police duty that is owed, not only to the community, but to the individuals in it? Is this grounded in fact or is this mere myth: myth that has been deliberately promulgated, propagated, and perpetuated? And, if this idea is myth, what is the real reason for it? Can it be that powerful, ruthless forces both inside this Nation and outside it consciously wish to deceive Americans? Do these powerful, ruthless forces seek to hide the fact that the police have no duty to ensure the life and safety of each member of a community so that Americans will be amenable to forsaking firearms’ ownership and possession, notwithstanding our heritage?
Do these powerful, ruthless forces know that the average, rational, law-abiding, responsible, American can truly protect his or her life, and that of one’s family from dangerous assailants only by wielding a firearm but that, because these ruthless forces fear an armed citizenry and because they seek to undermine the sovereignty of the American people, and because they seek to dismantle our Constitution and to disassemble our free Republic, that they would prefer to leave the average law-abiding American citizen defenseless, open to predators? Is it, then, for these reasons that extraordinarily powerful, inordinately wealthy, highly resourceful, abjectly ruthless, and innately secretive forces both in this Country and outside it, have concocted and disseminated a fairy tale of police protection for the American citizenry?
We will explore the truth and do our best to answer all these questions in forthcoming articles.
Copyright © 2018 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.