Cops Don’t Have a Duty to Save You. Here’s Why

Courts have ruled that police officers have ‘no duty to act.’

If you’re a normie, you probably had no idea that police have “no duty to act” on your behalf before the Uvalde, Texas school shooting last month.

I am not a normie, as you may have guessed, and have therefore spent the past couple of years high-key mad about this utter atrocity in our political/justice system.

It was in the aftermath of another school shooting—the Parkland, Florida case in 2018—that I first became aware of this ruling by the Supreme Court. As you may recall, that school shooting also saw the officer on duty fail to meaningfully intervene to stop the gunman. Former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson was charged for his negligence in the event that led to the deaths of 17 people, but curiously, I noted his defense argued he had no obligation to intervene.

The legal defense traces back to a 2005 US Supreme Court Case and consequential ruling known as Castle Rock v. Gonzales. The details of this case are as gruesome as the ultimate verdict is stomach turning.

Jessica Gonzales lived in Castle Rock, Colorado. She was the mother of three children and in the process of divorcing her husband, Simon, she received a restraining order. He had been stalking her and had made violent threats against her and the children. The order dictated he was to stay 100 feet away from her and the kids outside of specific visitation hours. But just a few weeks later, he kidnapped the children. Jessica immediately involved the police… who told her to call back in a few hours.

So she did, she called back. And she was told to wait two more hours (despite the fact that Simon was calling and taunting her at this point). Finally she went to the police station to try to file an official report.

An officer took her report, and then…

Went to dinner.

Yes, really.

A couple of hours later, Simon showed up at the police station and opened fire. Police shot back, killing him in the process. But it was too late. They discovered the dead bodies of her three children in his car.

Jessica tried to sue the police department and argued that her restraining order included a statutory requirement that violation of would result in automatic arrest. Colorado law did indeed back this up.

But the US Supreme Court ruled against Gonzales 7-2. The late justice Scalia wrote an absolutely appalling majority opinion defending the state and a “well established tradition of police discretion.”

Oddly, Scalia seemed concerned that allowing victims of the state to sue the state would lead to a system where “police departments are generally held financially accountable for crimes that better policing might have prevented.” So much for limited government or the belief in basic incentive structures to hold government accountable.

Clearly this is an abhorrent legal precedent in our system. And the rot that it wreaks in our policing system is vividly apparent.

Increasingly, police do not solve crimes—especially not violent ones. Even within the FBI, the most funded and well-resourced arm of law enforcement, the average homicide clearance rate hovers at 60%. For rape, it’s under 30%. And it only decreases from there for other crimes and across other departments.

Instead, police spend their time pursuing non-violent and victimless crimes, specifically those under the War on Drugs. They carry out no-knock warrants that get innocent people killed. They use civil asset forfeiture to steal more property from citizens than all burglars combined. And they stand by while children are gunned down in schools because they are too cowardly to act and because their politicians have told them they do not have to do the very basic job we’re paying them for.

This precedent needs to be overturned immediately. It’s a disgusting injustice. If it isn’t, then we need police choice. I should get my tax dollars back and be able to hire private security that will actually protect me and my property.

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Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer and co-founder of BASEDPolitics. She's also the host of the BASEDPolitics podcast and an experienced political activist.