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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 01:39 PM
Original message
Do the police have a duty to protect the average citizen? ...
Some here believe they do and may oppose gun ownership or concealed carry for that reason.


Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone
By LINDA GREENHOUSE
Published: June 28, 2005


WASHINGTON, June 27 - 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.

The decision, with an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia and dissents from Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, overturned a ruling by a federal appeals court in Colorado. The appeals court had permitted a lawsuit to proceed against a Colorado town, Castle Rock, for the failure of the police to respond to a woman's pleas for help after her estranged husband violated a protective order by kidnapping their three young daughters, whom he eventually killed.

For hours on the night of June 22, 1999, Jessica Gonzales tried to get the Castle Rock police to find and arrest her estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, who was under a court order to stay 100 yards away from the house. He had taken the children, ages 7, 9 and 10, as they played outside, and he later called his wife to tell her that he had the girls at an amusement park in Denver.

Ms. Gonzales conveyed the information to the police, but they failed to act before Mr. Gonzales arrived at the police station hours later, firing a gun, with the bodies of the girls in the back of his truck. The police killed him at the scene.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/28scotus.htm...




Do You Have A Right to Police Protection?

One of the basic themes of gun control is that only the police and military should have handguns or any type of firearm. I cannot explain their rationale, other than to say that gun control proponents must believe that the police exist to protect the citizenry from victimization. But in light of court decisions we find such is not the case. You have no right to expect the police to protect you from crime. Incredible as it may seem, the courts have ruled that the police are not obligated to even respond to your calls for help, even in life threatening situations!. To be fair to our men in blue, I think most officers really do want to save lives and stop dangerous situations before people get hurt. But the key point to remember is that they are under no legal obligation to do so.

Case Histories
Ruth Brunell called the police on 20 different occasions to plead for protection from her husband. He was arrested only one time. One evening Mr. Brunell telephoned his wife and told her he was coming over to kill her. When she called the police, they refused her request that they come to protect her. They told her to call back when he got there. Mr. Brunell stabbed his wife to death before she could call the police to tell them that he was there. The court held that the San Jose police were not liable for ignoring Mrs. Brunell's pleas for help. Hartzler v. City of San Jose, 46 Cal. App. 3d 6 (1st Dist. 1975).


Consider the case of Linda Riss, in which 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." The day after she had pleaded for police protection, the ex-boyfriend threw lye in her face, blinding her in one eye, severely damaging the other, and permanently scarring her features. "What makes the City's position particularly difficult to understand," wrote a dissenting opinion in her tort suit against the City, "is that, in conformity to the dictates of the law, Linda 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." Riss v. New York, 240 N.E.2d 860 (N.Y. 1968).

Warren v. District of Columbia is one of the leading cases of this type. Two women were upstairs in a townhouse when they heard their roommate, a third woman, being attacked downstairs by intruders. They phoned the police several times and were assured that officers were on the way. After about 30 minutes, when their roommate's screams had stopped, they assumed the police had finally arrived. When the two women went downstairs they saw that in fact the police never came, but the intruders were still there. As the Warren court graphically states in the opinion: ``For the next fourteen hours the women were held captive, raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon each other, and made to submit to the sexual demands of their attackers.'' The three women sued the District of Columbia for failing to protect them, but D.C.'s highest court exonerated the District and its police, saying that it is a ``fundamental principle 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.'' Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981).
http://hematite.com/dragon/policeprot.html




No Right to Police Protection in the United States
by Advanced Investigative Technologies, LLC


The courts have decided that you have no right to expect the police to protect you from crime! Incredible as it may seem, the courts have ruled that the police are not obligated to even respond to your calls for help, even in life threatening situations! To be fair to the police, I think that many, and perhaps most, officers really do want to save lives and stop dangerous situations before people get hurt. While case law dates back to the early 1960's, a leading case on the topic is Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981) when the Court stated "fundamental principle of American law is that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen." In fact, the first precedent established by the United States Supreme Court regarding protecting citizens dates back to the late 1930's in the case of Erie Railroad Co. Vs. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 82 L.Ed. 1188) when the Court stated "there is no federal general common law. Congress has no power to declare substantive rules of common law applicable in a state whether they be local in their nature or 'general,' be they commercial law or a part of the law of torts. And no clause in the Constitution purports to confer such a power upon the federal courts." The seminal case establishing the general rule that police have no duty under federal law to protect citizens is DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services (109 S.Ct. 998, 1989; 489 U.S. 189 (1989)). The court in DeShaney held that no duty arose as a result of a "special relationship," concluding that Constitutional duties of care and protection only exist as to certain individuals, such as incarcerated prisoners, involuntarily committed mental patients and others restrained against their will and therefore unable to protect themselves.

Yet, gun rights opponents rarely, if ever, speak of these precedents but citizens need to be aware that they have every right to self defense and to protect themselves. Some states have passed state statutes that reiterate that citizens have no right to police protection. Such is the case of California's Government Code, Sections 821, 845, and 846, which state in part: "Neither a public entity or a public employee may be sued for failure to provide adequate police protection or service, failure to prevent the commission of crimes and failure to apprehend criminals." Citizens injured because the police failed to protect them can only sue the State or local government in federal court if one of their officials violated a federal statutory or Constitutional right, and can only win such a suit if a "special relationship" can be shown to have existed, which DeShaney and its progeny make it very difficult to do. The most recent case, Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005) was a 7-2 decision by the United States Supreme Court that provided that a town and its police department could not be sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for failing to enforce a restraining order, which had led to the murder of a woman's three children by her estranged husband. Luckily, there is a little known law known as the "Castle Doctrine." The "Castle Doctrine" is an American legal doctrine that arises from English Common Law that designates one's place of residence (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as one's car or place of work) as a place in which one enjoys protection from illegal trespassing and violent attack. It then goes on to give a person the legal right to use deadly force to defend that place (his/her "castle"), and/or any other innocent persons legally inside it, from violent attack or an intrusion which may lead to violent attack. The "Castle Doctrine" also has a lengthy beginning dating back 1895 in the case of Beard v. U.S. (1895). This is sometimes called the "Stand Your Ground" doctrine and states that a man who was "where he had the right to be" when he came under attack and "...did not provoke the assault, and had at the time reasonable grounds to believe, and in good faith believed, that the deceased intended to take his life, or do him great bodily harm...was not obliged to retreat, nor to consider whether he could safely retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground." Many states have statutes of 'No Duty to Retreat" regardless of where the attack occurs.

As of the 28th of May, 2010, 31 States have some form of Castle Doctrine and/or Stand Your Ground law. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming have adopted Castle Doctrine statutes, and other states (Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington) are currently considering "Stand Your Ground" laws of their own. An aggressor whose victim fights back in self-defense may not invoke the doctrine of self-defense against the victim's legally justified acts.

http://m.hg.org/law-articles/20903/No_Right_to_Police_P...

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Hoopla Phil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
1. I wish they did but no, they don't. It is the individual's responsibility to protect themselves.
Edited on Wed Apr-13-11 01:57 PM by Hoopla Phil
Fortunately there is a proliferation of CHL laws across the country so that individuals may have at hand the most affective self defense tool. We are taking back that which was wrongfully taken from us - one stat at a time.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
2. Sort of.
The police are hired and funded for that purpose. Nevertheless, there is no cause of action for their failure to do so. Police effectiveness is considered to be a political matter and the remedy is electoral.
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Old Codger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
3. Basically
The police are your basic historians, they write the story after the fact.
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Countdown_3_2_1 Donating Member (778 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 02:00 PM
Response to Original message
4. When seconds count, the police are minutes away.
Its up to YOU to protect yourself.

Its fun and easy to do! Just follow these two easy steps...
1) buy a gun.
2) go to the range and learn to use it.
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DWC Donating Member (584 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 02:08 PM
Response to Original message
5. Exceptional, Factual Post. Thank You! n/t
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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 04:32 PM
Response to Reply #5
17. Thanks for your support. (n/t)
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safeinOhio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
6. The facts are,
The police departments and sheriffs offices are run by either elected officials or those appointed by elected officials. Law enforcement is dictated by us voters. If they don't serve and protect you, fire them and their bosses.
Just like the constitution does not protect us from many things, we have the right to take our business else where and elect those that will protect us. Yes, take responsibility for your safety, but also elect those that serve it.
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rrneck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Oh boy.
Another free market solution to overcome physics.

When you find a cop that can jump through a rip in the fabric of time I'll pay him out of my own pocket.
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rl6214 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. "If they don't serve and protect you, fire them and their bosses"
With that said, do you know of any municipalities that you can point out that actually protects its citizens? I mean total protection, which I realize is not possible, would mean a crime rate of near zero. Like I said, I don't think that's possible because there aren't enough cops anywhere in the world.
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safeinOhio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 02:52 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. We do not want to pay enough taxes
to put a cop on every block. What we do want is for the police to solve crimes so those that commit them are taken off the streets and we will be safer. You can do your own part in your on safety by making your home more secure, stay away from dangerous places as much as possible, don't use illegal drugs and don't get involved in love triangles..
I think most of us would agree that we want fewer guns in the hands of criminals, responsible gun owners and protect the right use a gun to protect ourselves in our homes and on the streets if we can prove we are good citizens of sound mind.
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LibertyFox Donating Member (124 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:57 AM
Response to Reply #11
21. The only proof we need is no criminal record.
Otherwise if you want to keep a gun out of a person's hands you have to exercise due process and prove them guilty of something or prove that they are not rational enough.

But there must be a due process and a presumption of innocence. That's how our law is meant to work.
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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Is it reasonable to expect the police to protect you when you have a restraining order?
If so, we would have to hire a lot more police.

My daughter had a restraining order against a stalker who persisted in violating it numerous times. Each time he did, she filed a report with the police. We even took video of his driving by our home which was well within the restricted zone. The police did occasionally stake out our home hoping to catch him, but of course he never appeared while they were watching. Eventually we managed to get enough witnesses to a violation (I was one) and he was arrested and sentenced to spend several weekends in jail. This appears to have worked as we haven't had any further problems for a year.

I don't fault the police for the fact that he wasn't arrested earlier. The small town I live in can't afford to provide 24/7 protection for a citizen who has a restraining order.

Fortunately, my daughter had a concealed weapons permit before the stalking began. The stalker did have a record of alcohol abuse and also resisting arrest, so my daughter did have a reason to be somewhat concerned about him. She had no desire to shoot him, but she would have if he would have attempted to physically attack her. He probably was more interested in playing physiological games with her as he appears to get satisfaction from scaring women. He was also stalking one of my daughter's close friends at the same time and she was terrified of him.

My daughter might have suffered from the same fear as her friend had she not been able to legally carry a firearm. The stalker irritated the hell out of her but she wasn't living in fear as he hoped. Because she had the right to carry, she was able to take responsibility for her own safety.

I agree that if the police department in your home town is not doing their job it's wise to elect new officials. Still, we can't ask them to do the nearly impossible unless we are willing to pay much higher taxes.
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GreenStormCloud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #6
13. The facts are,
Edited on Wed Apr-13-11 03:32 PM by GreenStormCloud
There aren't enough cops, even in genuine police states, for a cop to be handy all the time for everybody. You are on your own.
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ileus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 02:20 PM
Response to Original message
7. Only if they're standing right beside you the instant you need them...
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rl6214 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
8. Well if you look at the side of the patrol cars
a lot of them say 'To Serve and Protect'. We all know they aren't there to protect, they are there to write a report and maybe clean up the mess after a crime has been committed. Courts have also ruled that there is no right to police protection as you have cited. So no, apparently police do not have a duty to protect us.

As the old saying goes, when seconds count, police are just minutes (or hours) away.
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YllwFvr Donating Member (757 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 06:20 AM
Response to Reply #8
22. You will find that
Police across the country are removing that from cruisers
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Logical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
14. Nice post Spin. n-t
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spin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 04:31 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Thanks for your support. (n/t)
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Logical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 03:42 PM
Response to Original message
15. My favorite CCW quote..."I carry a gun because a police officer is too heavy!"
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
18. It is a general not specific responsibility and obligation
which means if they fail to protect someone (with or without a restraining order to protect them), there is no basis for a lawsuit. It makes sense as social policy as well. That one is ultimately responsible for one's own self defense in a moment of need has been the way things are since the beginning. It is scarcely a new concept.
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armueller2001 Donating Member (477 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 10:21 PM
Response to Original message
19. Hmm
Seems the opposing side is sticking their heads in the sand on this one. "If someone dies as a result of the police not being able to protect them, tough shit, I deserve to FEEL safe with no big bad scary guns around."

Or there's always the classic: "Get a dog"
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AtheistCrusader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-13-11 11:40 PM
Response to Original message
20. They have a duty to tase or stomp the shit out of you if you happen to mouth off though.
Or, in some cases, be 'too brown'.
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YllwFvr Donating Member (757 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 06:31 AM
Response to Reply #20
24. A temper is a terrible thing
For an officer who cant control it. I have a very long fuse ;)
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AtheistCrusader Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 09:59 AM
Response to Reply #24
26. That is true.
And I was unfair. This sort of behavior is not seen in the majority of police officers. But it only takes a few... Smears the rest.
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YllwFvr Donating Member (757 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #26
30. trust me I understand where you are coming from
when an officer does something stupid, or worse, willfully negligent, it makes us all look bad. If its in anywhere near the area I will work I can expect a loss of trust and confidence in the people Im meant to work for. Its tough, knowing you have to earn that back. Community support is extremely important, and all too easily lost. Respect for the police seems to be at a low, and I hate to say it but there is no one to blame but law enforcement.

So no hard feelings feelings AC, I know how it is. Ive had my share of run ins, Ive had one officer who treated me like crap. The rest were very professional. When I think back on those dealings the first one that pops into my head is the prick. As one instructor said "Every job has its assholes, this job just has more than most, the badge draws them."
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rrneck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #24
27. I don't like it win too much emphasis
Edited on Thu Apr-14-11 10:16 AM by rrneck
is placed on the officers behavior and not enough on the support he may get from his precinct. Policing is hard dangerous work and very stressful. I hope they pay you enough and you get good health care.
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YllwFvr Donating Member (757 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 06:27 AM
Response to Original message
23. We go over this in the academy
And they tell us outright "no duty to protect".
They then go on to say we are paper pushers and just record things afterwards, however, we are expected to risk our lives and save others, trading ours if need be.
Cant be everywhere at once, and might not be there when needed. The area covered is too great. Thats why knowing how to defend yourself, and some basic first aid is a really good idea. First responder training is good to have.
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S_B_Jackson Donating Member (564 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 06:58 AM
Response to Original message
25. One of the more prominent cases on this subject is from our nation's capitol.......

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Colu...

Warren v. District of Columbia<1> (444 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981) is a U.S. Court of Appeals case in which three rape victims sued the District of Columbia because of negligence on the part of the police. Two of three female roommates were upstairs when they heard men break in and attack the third. After repeated calls to the police over half an hour, the roommate's screams stopped, and they assumed the police had arrived. They went downstairs and were held captive, raped, robbed, beaten, and forced to commit sexual acts upon one another and to submit to the attackers' sexual demands for 14 hours. The police had lost track of the repeated calls for assistance. DC's highest court ruled that the police do not have a legal responsibility to provide personal protection to individuals, and absolved the police and the city of any liability.<2>


Incident

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 16, 1975, Carolyn Warren and Joan Taliaferro who shared a room on the third floor of their rooming house at 1112 Lamont Street Northwest in the District of Columbia, and Miriam Douglas, who shared a room on the second floor with her four-year-old daughter, were asleep. The women were awakened by the sound of the back door being broken down by two men later identified as Marvin Kent and James Morse. The men entered Douglas' second floor room, where Kent forced Douglas to sodomize him and Morse raped her.

Warren and Taliaferro heard Douglas' screams from the floor below. Warren telephoned the police, told the officer on duty that the house was being burglarized, and requested immediate assistance. The department employee told her to remain quiet and assured her that police assistance would be dispatched promptly.

Warren's call was received at Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters at 0623 hours, and was recorded as a burglary-in-progress. At 0626, a call was dispatched to officers on the street as a "Code 2" assignment, although calls of a crime in progress should be given priority and designated as "Code 1." Four police cruisers responded to the broadcast; three to the Lamont Street address and one to another address to investigate a possible suspect. (This suggests that when they heard that there had been a burglary, the police must have felt that they had a promising lead on a culprit.)

Meanwhile, Warren and Taliaferro crawled from their window onto an adjoining roof and waited for the police to arrive. While there, they observed one policeman drive through the alley behind their house and proceed to the front of the residence without stopping, leaning out the window, or getting out of the car to check the back entrance of the house. A second officer apparently knocked on the door in front of the residence, but left when he received no answer. The three officers departed the scene at 0633, five minutes after they arrived.

Warren and Taliaferro crawled back inside their room. They again heard Douglas' continuing screams; again called the police; told the officer that the intruders had entered the home, and requested immediate assistance. Once again, a police officer assured them that help was on the way. This second call was received at 0642 and recorded merely as "investigate the trouble;" it was never dispatched to any police officers.

Believing the police might be in the house, Warren and Taliaferro called down to Douglas, thereby alerting Kent to their presence. At knife point, Kent and Morse then forced all three women to accompany them to Kent's apartment. For the next fourteen hours the captive women were raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon one another, and made to submit to the sexual demands of Kent and Morse.


Appellants' claims

Appellants' claims of negligence included:
- the dispatcher's failure to forward the 0623 call with the proper degree of urgency;
- the responding officers' failure to follow standard police investigative procedures, specifically their failure to check the rear entrance and position themselves properly near the doors and windows to ascertain whether there was any activity inside;
- the dispatcher's failure to dispatch the call received at 0642 hours.


Decision

By a 4-3 decision the court decided that Warren was not entitled to remedy at the bar despite the demonstrable abuse and ineptitude on the part of the police. The court held that official police personnel and the government employing them are not generally liable to victims of criminal acts for a failure to provide adequate police protection.

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:19 AM
Response to Original message
28. unreccing for GOP/NRA BS
yup
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armueller2001 Donating Member (477 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #28
29. What is BS about the OP?
Edited on Thu Apr-14-11 11:19 AM by armueller2001
It's all FACTS. Backed by court decisions. How do you stamp that NRA/GOP?

Anything you don't like gets labeled NRA/GOP BS apparently. The NY times has a reputation for being a LIBERAL leaning news source, and the last source is from a legal database. How the hell are those tied to the GOP?
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PavePusher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. Unreccing due to uncomfortable facts now?!
Stooping to new lows, are you?
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rl6214 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 04:16 PM
Response to Reply #28
32. Pot, meet kettle
Didn't see anything NRA or GOP, just getting pissy because of all your BS posts
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