Occasionally, I will read comments on social media under articles about police brutality, as witnessed by us all via the media and by many first-hand on the streets. Without fail, the cop and cop-aligned citizens of the Internet will rush to this comment with retorts like the following: "Well, I hope you never need the police in the future!" or "Remember what you said the next time you need help!" or even "Call a crackhead the next time you need help [instead of the cops] and see how that works out!"
Firstly, these are straw-man arguments.
Our criticism of the police is not a criticism of their capacity as first responders to emergencies. Our criticism is with the institution of policing as an inherently oppressive apparatus of state power. We need first responders to emergencies. However, that role can be filled without police as we know them.
"The police spend very little of their time dealing with violent criminals—indeed, police sociologists report that only about 10% of the average police officer's time is devoted to criminal matters of any kind. Most of the remaining 90% is spent dealing with infractions of various administrative codes and regulations: all those rules about how and where one can eat, drink, smoke, sell, sit, walk, and drive. If two people punch each other, or even draw a knife on each other, police are unlikely to get involved. Drive down the street in a car without license plates, on the other hand, and the authorities will show up instantly, threatening all sorts of dire consequences if you don't do exactly what they tell you.
The police, then, are essentially just bureaucrats with weapons. Their main role in society is to bring the threat of physical force — even death — into situations where it would never have been otherwise invoked, such as the enforcement of civic ordinances about the sale of untaxed cigarettes."
Secondly, these arguments are based on the false assumption that it is the job of police to protect individual citizens. It is not. Your protection is your own responsibility. This fact has been affirmed and reaffirmed by numerous Supreme Court and lower court cases such as:
- Warren v. D.C.
- Castle Rock v. Gonzales
- Barillari v. City of Milwaukee, 533 N.W.2d 759 (Wis. 1995)
- Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir. 1982)
- DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189 (1989)
- Ford v. Town of Grafton, 693 N.E.2d 1047 (Mass. App. 1998)
- Riss v. New York, 22 N.Y.2d 579,293 N.Y.S.2d 897, 240 N.E.2d 806 (1958)
- Lynch v. N.C. Dept. of Justice, 376 S.E. 2nd 247 (N.C. App. 1989)
It is a well-settled fact of American law that the police have no duty to protect any citizen from crime, even if the citizen has received death threats and the police have negligently failed to provide protection.
In the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales for example, Jessica Lenahan-Gonzales, a resident of Castle Rock, Colorado, obtained a permanent restraining order against her husband Simon, who had been stalking and controlling her, on June 4th, 1999, requiring him to remain at least 100 yards from her and her four children. Simon took possession of his three daughters in violation of the order.
Jessica called the police at approximately 7:30pm, 8:30pm, and 10:10pm on June 22nd, and 12:15am on June 23rd, and visited the police station in person at 12:40am on June 23rd. The police took no action, despite Simon having called Jessica prior to her second police call and informing her that he had the daughters with him at an amusement park in Denver, Colorado. At approximately 3:20am on June 23rd, Simon appeared at the Castle Rock police station and was killed in a shoot-out with the officers. A search of his vehicle revealed the corpses of the three daughters, whom were killed prior to his arrival.
Gonzales filed suit. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled 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 job of police is to enforce the law, not to protect individual citizens. That is why they are called Law Enforcement. They are responsible for arresting individuals who commit crime after their crimes have been committed in the interest of the welfare of the general public. They carry out this duty at their leisure.
This might seem like a subtle distinction, but in practice it means that if you call 911, the police do not have to come to your aid if they don't want to. If you are being stabbed to death by a rampage killer and there is a police officer standing there watching it happen, he does not have to help you. He can watch you die if he feels like it. This is true in theory and in practice.
"To Serve and Protect" is just an empty slogan police put on their squadcars. It has no bearing on actual reality. It is for this reason personal protection and community self-defense should be highly prioritized aspects of left wing praxis.
Below is a short film about the heroic actions of a brave working-class man who stopped a knife attacker while police stood by and did nothing as he bled out from his wounds.