Researchers found that less than 5 percent of all calls dispatched to police are made quickly enough for officers to stop a crime or arrest a suspect. The average response time to a 9-1-1 call is 10 minutes nationwide. The 911 bottom line: “cases in which 911 technology makes a substantial difference in the outcome of criminal events are extraordinarily rare.”
It’s not just that the police cannot protect you. They don’t even have to come when you call. In most states the government and police owe no legal duty to protect individual citizens from criminal attack. The District of Columbia’s highest court spelled out plainly the “fundamental principle that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.”
The law is similar in most states. A Kansas statute precludes citizens from suing the government or the police for negligently failing to enforce the law or for failing to provide police or fire protection. A California law states that “neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service.” As one California appellate court wrote, “police officers have no affirmative statutory duty to do anything.”
The state legislatures and courts protect government entities and police departments from civil liability for failing to provide adequate police protection. Some states invoke the “sovereign immunity” defense, a throwback to the days when the subjects were forbidden to sue the king. Other states have statutes that prevent legal challenges to police “discretionary” functions. Courts preclude lawsuits in those states by holding that answering emergency calls or providing police protection are “discretionary” functions.
Many states evade liability by relying on the ironically named “public duty” doctrine. Like a George Orwell slogan, that doctrine says: police owe a duty to protect the public in general, but not to protect any particular individual.
The targets include “pregnant woman threat,” “older man
with shotgun,” “older man in home with shotgun,” “older woman with gun,”
“young school aged girl,” “young mother on playground,” and “little boy
with real gun.”
A ten year old Virginia boy who was arrested earlier this month for
taking a plastic toy gun to school is facing a potentially permanent
criminal record over the incident.
The boy, who remains unnamed by the media, hit headlines after
Douglas MacArthur Elementary School officials searched his bag and
found an orange tipped plastic toy gun, following complaints from
parents who said their children had seen the boy playing with the fake
firearm on the school bus.
Instead of exercising common sense, the school officials called the police, and the boy was taken into custody.
Although this seems to be one of the most extreme cases of children
being disciplined over toy guns and gun gestures, it is far from
isolated. As we have seen over the past few weeks, in the wake of the
Sandy Hook shooting, it is now a daily occurrence.
Ealier this month, a student in Florence, Arizona was suspended because he had a picture of a gun on his computer.
At the beginning of the month, it was reported that a six-year-old kindergartner in South Carolina was suspended for taking a small transparent plastic toy gun to school for a show and tell.
Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan
Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed
12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves.
Klebold's medical records have never been made available to the public.
Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times
the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his
grandfather's girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He
then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on
Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his
high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.
Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.
Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking
Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking
Zoloft for 6 days.
Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they
slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22
shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two
students, wounding six others.
Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high
school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed,
five others were wounded..
Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14,
(Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10
TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia
opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.
Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.
James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South
Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two
young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.
Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in
Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon,
Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his
grandmother 61 times.
Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a
Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents
as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and
mechanic's file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.
Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been
court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.
Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a
gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later,
the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime
suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.
Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription
had been doubled.
Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days
later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.
Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida
student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of
suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family's Gulf Shore Boulevard home
in July 2002.
Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed
suicide in 2002,
(Gareth's father could not accept his son's death and killed himself.)
Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her
family's detached garage.
Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having
difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days
later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his
Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He
is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI
drugs can kill.
Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He
had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and
"other drugs for the conditions."
Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students
and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was
taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.
Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21
others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium.
According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and
Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in
Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking
antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at
Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.
Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his
own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.
The Catholic Church's position on gun control is not easy to find; there are dozens of speeches and talks and a few documents that call for much tighter regulation of the global arms trade, but what about private gun ownership?
The answer is resoundingly clear: Firearms in the hands of civilians should be strictly limited and eventually completely eliminated.
The most direct statement comes in the bishops' "Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice" from November 2000.
"As bishops, we support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer -- especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner -- and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns."
That's followed by a footnote that states: "However, we believe that in the long run and with few exceptions -- i.e. police officers, military use -- handguns should be eliminated from our society."