Can We, As Individuals, Rely On The Police To Protect Us?

What Is The Duty Of A Community’s Police Force Toward A Citizen Whose Life Is In Imminent Threat Of Attack?

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Can We, As Individuals, Rely On The Police To Protect Us?

New York – -( Do the police have a legal duty to come to the immediate assistance of an innocent American whose life is in imminent danger if the police are notified of that imminent danger?

Many people—perhaps most—would respond with the following: “that’s a silly question; of course, the police have a duty, and that is their job, to come to the immediate assistance of an innocent American whose life is in imminent danger.”

For many people, the answer to the question may seem so obvious as to make the question itself rhetorical. But is it? For those people who are unarmed, and who choose not to possess firearms, the police, who are armed, are in the best position to secure the physical safety of unarmed civilian citizens, and such people fully expect the police to come to their assistance if they notify the police of an imminent threat to their life and safety.

But take a closer look at the question. Focus on the word, ‘legal duty.’ The question posed is distinct from another question we might have asked: Would you expect the police to come to the immediate assistance of an innocent American whose life is in imminent danger if the police are notified of that imminent danger?

Many Americans, certainly those who abhor firearms and who would never think of possessing a firearm, conflate the two questions. And, that is understandable, if presumptuous, as many Americans, even those who do exercise the natural right of self-defense through possession of a firearm would invariably expect the police to respond immediately to a “911” emergency.

But, even if that expectation seems reasonable, is that expectation misplaced? Suppose the police don’t respond in a timely manner to an emergency, or, for one reason or another, the police do not respond at all. Suppose the failure to protect results in injury or death to that person.

Does the injured party have a cause of action in negligence against the police? If death results, does the deceased’s estate have a cause of action for wrongful death, against the police? To answer these questions, we must pose another, more basic question that we had begun to deal with in our previous article.

The answer is “unequivocally and demonstrably no.” The police do not have a legal duty to come to the assistance of any American even if notified of an imminent threat to the life and well-being of that individual.

Personal Safety Individual Responsibility by Stephen L. D'Andrilli and David B. Kopel
Personal Safety Individual Responsibility by Stephen L. D’Andrilli and David B. Kopel

And that legal position is true today, as it was true decades—even centuries—ago, at the birth of our Nation. Yet the mainstream media and Leftist politicians routinely keep the public in the dark about this. That is bad, but worse, they lie to the public about this. That is despicable. Here and there, however, the truth does come out but only if the American people pay close attention. Unfortunately, most Americans do not pay attention to the import and purport of our laws, and the public must dig deep to learn the truth.

Thirty years ago, Stephen L. D’Andrilli, co-founder of the Arbalest Quarrel, and David B. Kopel, writer, attorney, and Constitutional law expert provided an answer to this question. They laid out the unblemished truth. They co-authored an article, titled, “Personal Safety: Individual Responsibility.” The article appeared in the May 1989 issue of “Women and Guns.” In the article the authors made clear both the state of the law and the dire consequences of the law, notably where the lives of women are endangered and the police do nothing to protect them. What Messrs. Kopel and D’Andrilli said in 1989 is as true today, as it was then. The law pertaining to the matter of police duty remains the same. Nothing at all has changed.

Two seminal Court cases on the matter of police duty stand out as mentioned in the Kopel and D’Andrilli article. Both cases, curiously enough, come out of jurisdictions that frown on civilian possession of firearms for self-defense and both cases establish the essence of the issue of “duty” as it relates to the police in communities around the Country. One is a New York case; the other comes out of California. The state of the law, today, as set forth in those two cases, remains unchanged; and the law in jurisdictions around the Country mirrors the law of California and New York.

The 1989 Kopel and D’Andrilli magazine article discusses both cases, and the Arbalest Quarrel provides additional commentary in our follow-up article.

From the two Court cases that the Kopel and D’Andrilli magazine article mentions, we learn that the onus of protection of one’s life and well-being rests upon one’s self. That duty does not and cannot reasonably, rationally be relegated to the Government, even as Radical Left Marxists, Socialists, and Communists, and those so-called New Progressive Leftists proclaim vociferously, hypocritically, disingenuously, and erroneously that the health, safety, and continued well-being of Americans do rest safely, securely, and firmly in the hands of Government. They don’t and never did.

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Arbalest Group created `The Arbalest Quarrel’ website for a special purpose. That purpose is to educate the American public about recent Federal and State firearms control legislation. No other website, to our knowledge, provides as deep an analysis or as thorough an analysis. Arbalest Group offers this information free.

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Speaking as a former LEO; the answer is ‘NO’. YOU are solely responsible for your safety.


I, too, learned that lesson. Back in the 1980s. I called the police on obvious lawbreakers, and they showed up an hour later, ignored the perps (“we’ll have a talk with them”) and then yelled at me for interrupting their donuts. I had to beg them to even go to see the offenders. The police were only interested in charging me with something… which they couldn’t because I learned as a child to CMOA, and there was zero, no matter how hard they looked. But then when they actually went to the perps house, the next thing they were gone.… Read more »

Deplorable Bill

OK, now that everybody knows THE POLICE ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO RENDER AID IN AN EMERGENCY, the question becomes who is responsible for your safety if not law enforcement? The answer is you. You ARE the first responder. You ARE responsible for the welfare and safety of your spouse, children, friends, neighbors, co workers, the innocent guy on the street and yourself. Most of the time a mass shooting is finished in under 4 min. The average response time for the police to just ARRIVE on site is 9 min. Most of the time a single shooter/victim scenario is… Read more »


@DB; One needs to TRY to get a carry permit from Aunt Martha (maryland state police). Maryland is SUPPOSED to be a “may issue” State. HOWEVER, in REALITY – – Maryland is a “MAY (NOT) ISSUE” State. It nigh on to IMPOSSIBLE to obtain a HEAVILY TAXED, EXPENSIVE carry permit for LEGAL LAW ABIDING American Citizens.

jack mac

US citizens are not civilians.


Courts, including the SCOTUS, have ruled repeatedly that the police DO NOT have a duty to protect you. Also, the local police have no Constitutional authority. They are the local government grabbing power from the People. Local ‘policing’ was supposed to be the Militia or the local armed populace at large. As Ronald Reagan said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling… Read more »


Courts, including the SCOTUS, have ruled repeatedly that the police DO NOT have a duty to protect you. Standby for off-topic rant:


Not their legal duty to protect us from threats? Then how are ‘red flag laws’ enforceable if they are supposedly protecting us from threats?


These court cases were dealing with state court’s rulings. I can state that the SUPREME COURT OF AMERICA has already stated this: The “police” are NOT, ARE NOT responsible to PROTECT INDIVIDUAL American Citizens. The SUPREME COURT JUDGES STATED: IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL AMERICAN TO DEFEND AND PROTECT THEMSELVES !!
The current NAZI “representatives” are LIARS when they say; “You do not need to carry a gun. The Police will protect you.

jack mac

neville. The cops you mention are now called enforcers. The criminals are the elected who pay them.


Can I count on the police to protect me? I believe they are willing but not capable. Ever heard “There’s never a cop around when you need one”? What police are good at is apprehending a criminal through vehicle stops and since there is no such thing as a routine stop, it’s deliberate and calculated. Cops already know if there’s a crime potential just by running the plates, many a criminal has been netted by police just by chance and that’s a good thing. But my observation of police and law enforcement in general is that they are mostly reactionary,… Read more »


Michael J. If officers at my department became proactive by stopping someone suspicious they are punished for being racists. For instance in NJ in the 90’s officers were stopping new Black Mercedes driven by Blacks who looked like dealers or pimps because new Black Mercedes were the vehicle of choice by Black dope dealers. The courts ruled they could not stop ANY Black people in Black Mercedes. They weren’t stopping all Black People in Black Mercedes but only the ones who looked like pimps or dealers AND in high crime areas. Any cop who has a couple of years experience… Read more »


This occurred in Washington DC in the late 60’s or early 70’s. Two thugs burglarized an apartment occupied by two young women. They began raping and assaulting the women but one girl broke loose and called the police. She was able to tell the dispatcher what was happening to them and requested “HELP, The Police”. A two man police car was dispatched and drove by the apartment. The thugs had doused the lights, gagged the women, and the officers determined there was not a problem because the place was dark. The girls were raped repeatedly all night long. At dawn… Read more »


You left out the seminal case of Warren vs DC Metro Police 2nd Circuit court of appeals 1981. The court held that the DC police were under no obligation to protect anyone at all!


I think that anyone who relies on anyone else to defend them, outside of a small child, should have their head examined. Because what that individual is stating, even if they don’t realize it is that they believe the police officer’s life is less valuable then theirs. That is the bottom line.

Operator Z

I used to hold a POST cert in California. Police have no legal duty to protect us. None.


Have I ever got a story for you — The year was 198(5?), and Ronald Regan was President. I was out doing my thing at a local night club in Goleta, California, (Santa Barbara County) two years abreast of my home invasion event in LA during the 1982-3 mean season. All of a sudden this very large man (guessing about 6’4″ or so, around 300 lbs.) started causing trouble. As he stormed out of the place he deliberately knocked over one of the speakers from off the stage belonging to a friend of mine who was playing that night (it… Read more »


So tell me, since it was an item Trump was going to address; how many military installations allow civilians, or even members of the military, to carry personal firearms on said installation? I am not aware of a single one.


Crickets, all I hear are crickets. As a side note, because of my duties as a nuclear weapons Custodial Agent for up to five days a week (in addition to my regular job), I could, and did draw my M-16 and my 120 round basic load often. This was in Germany circa 1975. The battalion armorer did not question my authority to draw my rifle and ammo nor any of the others who pulled CA duty. Or, for that matter, any of us who pulled Alert Force duty overnight. There were never any problems and most of us were 21… Read more »


Boy how true, no loaded weapons on any base other than MP’s, private weapons are to be stored in the armorer’s locker, why do you think that nut-job got to do the damage at Ft Hood Texas!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I can see the headlines now “Officer stands by while gay black antifa member murders 6 year old girl.” Claims he doesn’t need the head aches associated with justifiably shooting a guy like that.


You know as well as I do that DeShaney is THE controlling case.

It would really help your discussion if you would read Pinder v. Johnson, en banc, (54 F.3d 1169 (4th Cir. 1995).

In particular, read Part V.

Then please discuss in a follow-up. Thank you


Only the ones who SEARCH for infractions, laws and rules wherewith they can arrest and charge you with. It IS the JOB of the police to put YOU in jail.


The police possibly saved a life in two instances where I called them; but, the life possibly saved wasn’t mine. Sort of like, “Don’t worry about the dog, he’s just here to let me know that you are here.”