The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the police did not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm, even a woman who had obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent husband making an arrest mandatory for a violation. Read more»
Linda Greenhouse, “Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone” (June 28, 2005)
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This is a poorly worded title, “You are on Your Own,” as that is not what the Supreme Court said. What was determined is that the plaintiff in the suit, who was the victim of the crime, used an invalid argument by citing the 14th Amendment, the protection against discrimination, to right a wrong. They did not say that the plaintiff had no grounds for complaint. Not having all of the facts before us we may not come to the same conclusion that Greenhouse so eagerly does.
Would that you were correct but I do not think that you are. The case is Castle Rock v Gonzales:
At least one amicus brief in Heller (2008) appealed to Castle Rock v Gonzales as indicating the the police have no absolute duty to protect citizens.
Here is the text of the Heller decision itself.
Students in law-enforcement academies are taught that under Castle Rock, they have no absolute duty to protect citizens. This language from a law-enforcement related publication is typical of that being used:
This 2011 Police Academy textbook concurs: “The Supreme Court ruled that police have no constitutional duty to protect.”
We are both correct. I did not say that you were not. The case in question was not about protection under the 14th amendment, which was the basis of the decision. That’s all. Being a retired police officer gives me a little expertise in this matter. The constitution does not even speak about police officers of state and local governments duties. Castle Rock basically says that police are not security guards for individuals. Had the police been called to the home of the victim where she was protected by a court ordered writ of protection and the suspect was there, in violation, they would have had the duty to arrest the suspect. The duty is to enforce the law. not guard your house.
If the citizens were really on their own nobody ever told me. I still have the night mares to prove it.
There are at least four officers in Florida who believe the citizens were on their own. And with all respect Mr. Duncan, I’ll bet those citizens and their parents have nightmares of their own.