The ‘Calling 911’ Myth: Police Protection versus Personal Protection

Written by Andrew Linn on June 3, 2013

USMC-110620-M-MX359-019When an emergency occurs, whether it be a fire, a person in need of medical assistance, or a crime taking place, most people will call 911. Although on more than on occasion dialing this number has saved lives or resulted in criminals being brought to justice, there are numerous occasions where the system failed.

One particular case occurred last year, when a woman in Oregon dialed 911 to report that her ex-boyfriend was breaking into her home. The dispatcher told her that the sheriff’s department was shorthanded and thus only had deputies available 8 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday. Since the call took place on a Saturday morning, no deputies could be sent. The dispatcher then told the woman that if her ex-boyfriend assaulted her, then she should ask him to go away.

I’m sure asking someone to go away while they are beating you up will work just perfectly. Maybe we could ask all the illegal immigrants to leave America and see how effective that strategy is.

At any rate, the ex-boyfriend broke into the woman’s house, assaulted her, and raped her.

There are many similar incidents listed in a book titled Dial 911 and Die: The Truth Behind the Police Protection Myth, written by Richard Stevens. Stevens’s book lists stories where the victims (or their next of kin) sued the city or state over a death or injury due to negligence or apathy. But an overwhelming majority of these cases were thrown out of court because the authorities owed no duty to protect individuals from criminal attack.

Another reason why such cases were dismissed is because state governments had adopted the sovereign immunity clause (a throwback to the days when subjects were forbidden to sue the monarch). The sovereign immunity clause was enacted because if one person succeeded in bringing a lawsuit against the state, then a flood of lawsuits would occur. There are some exceptions, such as if the police established a special duty towards an individual, e.g. a person in the witness protection program. Hence, it is best if a person who fears he or she will be the victim of a criminal attack owns a firearm.

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Andrew Linn
Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to and Right Impulse Media.