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I’ll protect myself, thank you

Editor:

I was surprised when Detective Varman mentioned in a recent letter that he was out there "protecting" me. Most police agencies have shied away from claims of citizen protection. Remember the days when police had the slogan, "To protect and to serve?" Most municipal, county and state police have had that slogan removed from vehicles, literature and official forms.

I, for one, don’t need or want police protection. First of all, I am capable of protecting myself. Second, the police have no mandate, obligation or duty to protect me. Third, it is not unheard of for police to injure or kill the innocent victim when arriving on a crime scene "cold."

The myth that police are there for your personal protection is just that, a myth. Courts have again and again exonerated police agencies (and rightfully so) who have failed to protect citizens and have ruled repeatedly that there is no duty on the part of police to protect individuals.

For example, a San Jose, Calif., lady had called the police on numerous occasions to plead for protection from her estranged husband. He was arrested only one time. One evening he phoned and told her he was coming over to kill her. Her plea to police was fruitless. They would not respond. They instructed her to call back when he got there. He arrived and killed her, precluding her from making the call. The courts exonerated police from liability.

In New York a young woman telephoned the police and begged for help because her ex-boyfriend had repeatedly threatened, "If I can’t have you no one else will have you, and when I get through with you, no one else will want you." New York City has strict gun registration laws for carrying weapons of self-defense and she had applied for a gun permit for self-protection but was denied. The day after her last plea to police, the ex-boyfriend threw lie in her face, blinding her in one eye, severely damaging the other, and permanently scarring her facial features.

When she sued the city and lost, a dissenting opinion wrote, "…in conformity to the dictates of the law, the victim 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."

In Washington D.C., two women were upstairs at home when they heard their roommate, another woman being attacked downstairs by intruders. They phoned the police several times and were assured that officers were on the way. After half an hour, when their roommate’s screams subsided, they assumed the police had finally arrived. The women went downstairs and discovered the intruders were still there. For the next 14 hours, all three women were held captive, raped, robbed and beaten.

They sued the District of Columbia for failing to protect them, but the courts ruled against them, saying that is a "fundamental principal of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen."

And, of course, we all remember Columbine, the heavily armed and body armored "Couch Potatoes" (my phrase) cowered behind their vehicles and waited for the shooting to stop before entering. The two teen-aged novices continued their murderous rampage for some time after police arrived and then committed suicide.

Gun control advocates believe that only police and soldiers should have firearms and seem to believe that the police have an obligation to protect citizens from victimization. It seems incredible, but courts have ruled that the police are not obligated to respond to your calls, even in life-threatening situations.

Most states, including Arizona, have specifically excluded claims and lawsuits against state or local officials for "failure to protect," by enacting statutes, which state in part that a public entity or a public employee may not be sued for failure to provide adequate police protection or service, failure to prevent the commission of crimes or failure to apprehend criminals. This means the only individuals the police are duty-bound to protect are criminals and suspects in custody.

As Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County observed: "Police do very little to prevent violent crime. We investigate crime after the fact." Other than acting as a deterrent, police can seldom prevent crime.

In my opinion, officers need to get their head out of that egotistical haze they are in and go about the job of investigating crime, apprehending criminals and enforcing our laws.

Officers also need to stop making statements about "protecting citizens" and "crime prevention." These claims lead citizens into a false comfort zone that can be dangerous.

The Bill of Rights was established to enable honest citizens to protect themselves, both from a tyrannous government and from criminal activity.

The only person dialing 911 from my property seeking protection will be the burglar or criminal whose neck is tightly in my grip. I’ll protect myself, thank you.

Bob Womack

Camp Verde

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