Self Defense and the Realities of Police Response Times

Car

I enjoy driving. It provides time for reflection. It reminds me of the beauty and uniqueness of America. I recently took a brief vacation, driving from Texas to Wyoming, South Dakota and back. My trip reminded me, in stark terms, of the sheer size of our country; of the realities of time and distance. “No one needs guns,” some anti-liberty advocates claim. “Let the police protect us; that’s their job.” As I drove past lonely ranches and farms and small towns, I imagined myself, once again, in a police car . . .

flipping the switches for my lights and siren, racing as fast as conditions allowed to an emergency call, a call where lives might hang in the balance. I sighed, considering the distance involved. I’d eventually get there – to investigate and clean up what’s left. No sooner.

In much of the United States, the police simply can’t promise to help anyone. Most people would be stunned to learn how few officers are actually on patrol, available to take emergency calls at any time of the day or night in much of the United States. In many counties, there are only a handful of deputies on duty at any time, deputies responsible for hundreds of square miles of land.

They are sometimes augmented by highway patrolmen whose patrol districts are commonly even larger. Each HP officer can work only one shift per day. Two-thirds of the time, when they’re needed, the time necessary for them to suit up and leave their home from a cold start must be added to their response time. The same problems face not only rural Americans, but the residents of innumerable small towns that can’t afford a police force.

It’s not just a rural reality. In Detroit, 911 emergency response times range from 58 minutes–when the police come at all–to four hours.  The Women’s Self Defense Institute notes:

“According to American Police Beat, the average response time for an emergency call is 10 minutes. Atlanta has the worst response time with 11 to 12 minutes and Nashville comes in at a lightning speed of 9 minutes.

The Department of Justice, with their statistical prowess, reports that the best response time is 4 minutes and the worst over 1 hour.”

Part of this is nothing more than the cold calculations of time and distance. An officer ten miles from a call will take more than 10 minutes to get there. If he’s 40 miles away, it will take much longer. If there is no officer immediately available to answer an emergency call, longer still. Add poorly trained dispatchers, laziness, error and other human factors, and it’s a miracle emergency calls are answered in many places at all.

Imagine that a violent, armed gang of burglars is in the process of breaking down your door as you dial 911. Will a police response time of even five minutes–far better than average–be helpful to you, or will the officer’s duty consist of drawing a chalk outline on the floor and collecting evidence?

In the age of Obamanomics, more and more police agencies are being forced to cut their manpower to the bone. Personnel are always the biggest part of any police budget. When difficult cuts must be made, they’re virtually always made in manpower; there is really nowhere else to cut. Police agencies may want very much to be able to respond quickly to each and every emergency call; they simply can’t.

Ironically, even if they want to respond to every call, they don’t have to. The police have no legal duty to protect any individual citizen. They owe a duty only to an abstract public-at-large. They are responsible only for deterring crime by their tactics and presence, and for investigating crimes after they occur in the hope of arresting criminals. One cannot sue the police for failing to protect them or those they love and have any hope of prevailing. The seminal Supreme Court is Castle Rock V. Gonzales (2005).

On June 22, 1999, 5:00 p.m., in Castle Rock, Colorado, Jessica Gonzales’ three daughters, 7, 9, and 10, were playing in her yard. Without her knowledge or permission and against the conditions of a custody agreement and a restraining order, her estranged husband took the girls. Jessica called the police at 7:30 p.m., and two officers came to her home. She showed them copies of the custody agreement and the restraining order and begged them to enforce it and to return her daughters, but they told her they could do nothing and directed her to call at 10:00 p.m. if the girls weren’t home.

Why 10 PM? Many police departments schedule shift change at 10 p.m. The officers were likely trying to put the call off on the following shift, a common practice for officers that don’t want to handle an annoying or potentially unproductive call.

Jessica spoke with Gonzales by cell phone at about 8:30, and again called the police, who again refused to act. She called the police at 10:00, and they put her off until midnight. She called at midnight and again, the police did nothing.

Jessica drove to Gonzales’ apartment and found no one home. She called the police at 1:10 a.m. They promised to send an officer, but no one came. At 1:50 a.m. she went to the police station and begged them to make an incident report. The officer taking her complaint actually did something when she left: he went to dinner.

At about 3:20 a.m., Gonzales arrived at the police station, determined to commit suicide by cop. With a handgun he bought hours earlier, he opened fire on the station. Unable to ignore a man actually shooting at the police station, the police finally did their duty and granted Gonzales his wish by returning fire and killing him.

Tragically, due to the laziness of the Castle Rock Police, Gonzales was able to realize an additional desire. Inside his pickup truck, parked nearby, police found the bloody little bodies of his three daughters. Gonzales shot and killed them hours earlier.

Jessica sued the Castle Rock Police, and the case began its slow trek through the courts, finally being settled by the Supreme Court in 2005. Was this a case of judicial activism, heartless conservatives ruling against three dead little girls and their grieving minority mother? No. The Court’s decision affirmed decades of consistent precedent and is absolutely rational and necessary.

If the police could be sued whenever a citizen was injured by criminals, what city or country could possibly afford a police agency? If everyone contemplating a career as a police officer knew they would spend every spare minute and every dime they earned fending off lawsuits for failing to stop crimes about which they were completely unaware, who would choose to become a police officer?

But what about cases like Jessica Gonzales? The police knew of the danger; they knew her husband was violating the law, yet officer after officer chose to do nothing and Gonzales and his daughters died as a result of their inaction.

It’s a heart-rending case, but there are many more, cases where officers didn’t respond to rapes in progress because the call was inadvertently assigned a low priority or they were given incorrect information, calls where people were maimed, crippled, murdered because of police mistakes, because there weren’t enough officers to respond quickly, or because they simply couldn’t be bothered to do their jobs.

Consider the February 12, 2011 case of Joseph Lozito. Maksim Gelman stabbed three people to death and killed another with a car. When he entered the subway train in which Lozito was riding, he tried to force his way into the operator’s cab of the train where two NYPD officers that were actually looking for him were locked in. They remained locked in that cab, watching, as Maksim attacked Lozito, stabbing him in the face, head and elsewhere. One of the officers later admitted to a grand jury that he remained in the cab because he was afraid Gelman might have a gun.

Lozito wrestled Maksim to the floor, disarmed him, and bleeding heavily, held him there. It was only then that the two police officers bothered to open the cab door and handcuff the already restrained Maksim.

Lozito survived with many stitches and tried to sue the NYPD, but under Castle Rock V. Gonzales, he failed.

It is the principle, the rule of law that matters. The police cannot be held responsible for failing to protect anyone, no matter how heart-rending or outrageous the circumstances.

Keep in mind that for the most part, police officers have a code of honor. They feel, institutionally and personally, responsible for doing their best for the public, and they absolutely love to catch bad guys in the act, the badder the better. But there are few of them, more criminals and far more citizens.  Police officers are only as good as their last report, their last arrest. Their integrity and ability are measured every day by their fellow officers. An officer who fails to protect anyone when they had the means and ability to do so is considered unreliable, even a coward by their fellows.

Unfortunately, this is not universally true. There are officers, and agencies, where personal safety and convenience matter more than serving and protecting any member of the public. In such places, the fate of citizens matters little, and officers that allow citizens to be injured–or worse–when they could have acted, suffer little or not at all for their selfishness and cowardice.

Some police agencies and officers understand, and rather than trying to maintain the fiction that the police can protect the public, tell the truth. Such an officer is Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright, who, in the aftermath of an attempted rape, urged local women to obtain concealed weapon permits and be prepared to protect themselves:

“It just struck me wrong that we keep telling everyone ‘trust us, trust us, trust us,’ but in reality, you need to protect yourself.”

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is of the same mind. Forced to drastically cut his manpower, Clarke told the residents of Milwaukee County that they have a duty to protect themselves and their families:

“Once the wolf is at the door, once the intruder is inside your home, once you’re on the street and someone sticks a gun in your face to take your car or your wallet, you don’t have the option of calling 911.”

Even in Detroit, actually, particularly in Detroit, Chief of Police James Craig is urging citizens to become armed:

“If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday.”

When next you hear an anti-liberty mouthpiece demanding the disarmament of the law-abiding, remember that the police not only can’t protect everyone, they aren’t required to do so.

When it comes to protecting our lives and the lives of those we love, we are on our own. We always have been.

Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.

comments

  1. Police are not an agency of defense — they are an agency of criminal justice. See my now classic:

    http://vtdigger.org/2014/01/16/edward-jaffe-self-defense-rural-state/

    (Police can protect you if you live on Park Ave & 72nd st — maybe.)

  2. avatar Richard In WA says:

    Average response time in my town is 45 minutes. I live 1 block from the high school and 2 blocks from the middle school and 45 min is the expectation.

    That was a big part of why I armed myself. I kick myself for not doing it sooner.

    1. avatar John Galt says:

      A very sobering analysis about a exceedingly thin that blue line is.

      Nine Meals Away From Anarchy – Part 2

  3. avatar Accur81 says:

    Want reality? A 2011 Crown Vic with a 255 HP 4.6 V8 can eventually hit 135 mph (about 140 mph for the slick-tops). The 0-60 time with a patrol load is around 9 seconds. I can’t choose the best duty handgun for me (I’d pick a Glock 35 or Sig 226), and my M16 patrol rifle is from Vietfreakin’nam. Can I bring a high-quality military grade weapon of war from my gun safe? Nope. Fortunately, I have a pre-Freedom Group Rem 870, 5 Pmags of Winchester PDX .223 and 145 rounds of .40 cal. Still, I wouldn’t bet my life on me being there in time. Come to think of it, I’m going to add an extra sleeve of 12 gauge 00 buck to my spares.

    Many of the police-spec Ford Explorers are equipped with the normally-aspirated V6. Very few cop car are fast. The Hemi-V8 Chargers are pretty rare, and LAPD has a few V8 Mustangs. That’s about it.

    Fortunately, I grow special powers of speed and wisdom once I put the uniform on. Not.

    1. avatar S.CROCK says:

      “Can I bring a high-quality military grade weapon of war from my gun safe? Nope.”

      Was that part a joke? Also do you really have a true M16 while on duty or is it neutered?

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        It’s a de-militarized M16A1 that only fires semi-auto, and it’s well over 40 years old.

      2. avatar Christopher says:

        Military doesn’t even use M16A1s anymore, we’re up to M4s now. Which is good, but could be better.

  4. avatar Frank Masotti says:

    Two things.
    1: Police are not in the job of protecting. (I.E. being proactive.) Thus they are not to protect anyone. Just come and fill out the paperwork, and clean up after the fact.
    2: With that said: When seconds count the police are minutes away.
    Just my 2 cents worth.

  5. Great article, and very important.

    I previously served as a law enforcement instructor at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, and recently developed a patent-pending emergency response platform that leverages civilian and off duty assets to bolster response. I was invited to present the concept at the LAUNCH festival in San Francisco this past year.

    We can move the needle away from the 10 minute nationwide response time closer to the average 90 seconds it takes for violent criminal activity to occur, but we have to evolve beyond antiquated phone systems for dispatch.

    I’m still searching for funding beyond paying the patent attorney and filing, but we now have the opportunity to build a platform where a bluetooth wristband can tether to a cell phone, at the press of a button transmit the user’s location and open an audio connection over a data stream (which when you dial 911 now, you’ll notice your phone by FCC mandate shuts off the data stream to find the best available voice signal, which is useless when you have a gun to your head to try and describe your location to a dispatcher), and finally alert users nearby to respond to your emergency.

    Think of this as the Uber for 911 response.

    Imagine a world where, since ambulance service is already privatized, you’re able to get off duty nurses and EMTs to help… I had a girlfriend who was drugged at a nightclub, and passed out in my bathroom when we got home. I called 911 and asked how much the ambulance would cost. $1100 to go 5 blocks. Nope, I drove her myself. But I gladly would have paid $150 for someone to do that ride with me and assess the situation before I put her in my car.

    This becomes a great equalizer since there are 3 shifts for every department, so when you call 911 you’re only getting 33% capacity of the department to respond. With a location based solution, off duty assets are still able to participate if they’re nearby. Plus, for commanders, instead of poorly designed phone trees where off duty assets must be called one by one, our solution allows the entire force to be reactivated in large riot or other emergency situations with the touch of a button.

    I would love to connect with others to help make this platform a reality, and like Uber where you can get a taxi or a towncar to respond to your request, I believe providing an “opt in” way of bringing civilians into responding, who have conceal carry permits, lends a method of containment until police can effectively respond and escalate or de-escalate the situation.

    Coming from someone who has trained police officers, let me provide this insight: Since police officers often get to the range no more than once or twice a year, I would rather have a well trained civilian show up who goes to the range monthly or more… because I know when they draw their weapon, their aim is going to be steady and accurate to lengths beyond the average patrolman.

    That doesn’t mean they need to fire and create a Zimmerman scenario… but containment in that critical 90 seconds when the violent crime occurs will lead to effective response and psychologically, it will result in decreased criminal activity after criminals realize they can’t escape fast enough away from the average citizen who is willing to draw their weapon legally in defense of their fellow citizen.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      “… and finally alert users nearby to respond to your emergency.”

      That is the key. Forget all the stuff about calling-in off-duty police, EMS, nurses, or physicians. Just a blanket broadcast within 1/2 mile of a victim that a dire emergency is happening right now.

      There are drawbacks to that approach, however. First and foremost, people who respond have no idea who is an attacker and who is a victim. Then there is the entire perspective of: why should I risk my life and limb for someone else who could not be bothered to train and acquire the means to protect themselves? In other words, they ventured out onto thin ice and now they want me to risk my life to save them from their foolish choice.

      1. avatar Daniel S. says:

        I would definitely want to get involved in helping produce this kind of product if it’s being done.

    2. avatar Joel says:

      https://www.kickstarter.com/ is a way to get funding. It does involve promising a viable product. However it has been known to throw a curve ball to producers. It has kicked conservatives off it’s website.

  6. avatar Kevin says:

    The guy who taught our CPL class was an active duty officer in a community with one of the better staffed police offices around. Even then however he explained that during any given shift pretty much every officer on duty is responding to some kind of call at any given moment. His point was that self defense is up to us… not them.

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      +1 Guy who taught my CCW class is a cop in a local PD; We are not required to show our permit to the police when stopped, but he encouraged us to do so since we are the good guys that po-po relies upon to help prevent/stop violence before they arrive. I have been pulled over 5 times in last 2 yrs – no tickets, and I was doing more than 20 over). Why? 3 of the police thanked me for having a carry permit and asked me to make sure others got their permits as well.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        It never ceases to amaze me when I hear about policemen/women who don’t want citizens to be armed because armed “good guys” make the job of policemen/women a lot safer.

        Consider the common occurrence where an armed criminal attacks a victim and the victim calls the police. When the victim is unarmed, upon arriving the police will have to deal with a healthy, fully functional armed attacker. That is dangerous for them. When the victim is armed and proficient, upon arriving the police will have to deal with an incapacitated attacker. That is a lot less dangerous for police.

        Either way, policemen/women still have their job and their paycheck. Why not have their job and paycheck and the assurance that most calls to violent crimes will not endanger them?

        1. avatar ChrisB. says:

          Virtually no policemen want citizens to be unarmed. There is a mountain of data on this, especially the PoliceOne survey which was the largest survey of law enforcement personnel ever conducted. 90% of police officers support armed citizenry and 90% think the proposed gun laws and laws on magazine bans are more harmful than helpful.

          The tiny fringe minority of cops who support the gun control movement are by and large a) politically appointed police chiefs and senior officers trying to make excuses and scapegoat for crime. They know if they were honest about it they would be fired. And b) some outright hypocrites.

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          ChrisB,

          While I am familiar with the PoliceOne survey, I am at a loss to explain why thousands of policemen/women will ruin your life if you are armed in California, Hawaii, New York (especially New York City), New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachussets, Rhode Island, and much of Illinois.

          Either those “officers” want us to be armed but will arrest us and ruin our lives anyway, or they don’t want us to be armed which is why they will arrest us and ruin our lives for the “crime” of being armed to defend ourselves from violent criminals.

  7. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    Listen to a police scanner sometime. I listen to one frequently in my mix of semi-urban and way rural Washington State county. The perception of the “lazy cop” might be on TV and such but these folks seem to be constantly on the go. And it’s frightening to hear some of the urgent calls where the responding officer is10-15-20 minutes away. And backup? um….well…eventually. If State can send someone to help.

    It was heartening to hear during one very busy time last week with multiple priority calls, the “desks” heard that coverage was thin and a lot of the senior leadership jumped into cars and responded.

    I think that Mr and Mrs Average American would be stunned to know just how “on their own” they really are. Reed and Malloy, or Friday and Gannon – hell I’d take Starsky and Hutch if I have to – showing up in the nick of time just after the commercial is what it is – a work of fiction.

  8. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Once again, in the “let the police protect us!” cries from anti-gunners, we see the entitlement mentality of the city dwellers. Everything is provided for them from someone/somewhere else – their food, their fuel, their electrical power, their fire protection, EMT response, police coverage, etc.

    Let me tell you how things work in the vast middle of the country:

    Outside the cities, your fire department is probably a volunteer department. These are men (and a few women) who have decided that they’re in a position to drop everything when their pagers go off, drive (at posted speed limits – VFD members have no special dispensation to speed, either in a fire truck or their own pickup) to the station house, put on their bunkers or grab the EMT gear, then respond to the scene.

    If they’re already out on a scene, and you have an emergency, guess what? You get to wait in line. Maybe the department has more members and equipment. And maybe it doesn’t. If they have a mutual aide agreement with another department, maybe your response starts from even further away. How often are the VFD fire houses empty when a call comes in? In the west in summer when the danger of brush or wildland fire is high – pretty often.

    Response times? Anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours (mountain search & rescues, or highway extractions many miles from town). For the purposes of house/business fire suppression, many volunteers say, with quite a bit of ironic truth, “we try to save the foundation.”

    Police/Sheriff’s Dep’t response: Depends on whether they’re already on another call. In more remote areas, you could be looking at waiting an hour+ for a deputy (or deputies) to arrive, and that’s not because they’re taking their time. The number of cops/deputies who have gone to an early grave because they were speeding to a far-flung call and they barrel-rolled their car off the side of the road isn’t small. Now there’s two incidents to which they must respond.

    EMT’s/Ambulance services: In many small towns and rural areas, there’s only one service. The VFD’s often have EMT’s on their member rosters, but it isn’t everyone. The facilities in many VFD’s medical transport rigs are spartan, to put it charitably. In many areas of the west, the first EMT on the scene might dispatch a helo ambulance from a hospital or FBO – and their flight times to much of the area might be over an hour – in good weather. In the winter in the west, there can be storms that ground helo’s.

    In short, the city slickers love to shoot their mouths off. They know nothing of life outside their cozy little environment, and they think anyone who doesn’t live the urban lifestyle can just “get with the urban program” that these parasites have in mind for the rest of us.

    In vast areas of the country, you are your own first responder – for everything. You’d better have a medical kit and at least some basic training. You’d better have pre-planned your fire suppression and fuel reduction, and having at least one gun is just plain common sense.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I live in the one “urban” area of my northern California county, and the story is the same. Living in town, police response is usually prompt, although staffing and availability of officers has plummeted as a result of court ordered releases of “nonviolent” (usually drug addicted thieves, burglars and vagrants) into the community that the jail simply cannot house. Outside the city and its urban environment, the story is entirely different. The next large town, one hour to the east and on the other side of a mountain, is served by a single sheriff’s deputy. And it is another hour to the eastern county border. To be blunt, pretty much the entire county east of the Central Valley foothills is served by a few scattered deputies and CHP, volunteer firefighters, and an occasional ambulance. Almost all patients from that area have to be airlifted to town because the distances are too great and the roads too hazardous. To the west are mountains, and the same thing applies, pretty much all the way to the coast. If you live out there, you really are on your own.

  9. avatar Mediocrates says:

    They sure know how to treat a dog.

  10. avatar g says:

    Great article, and a truth that people don’t like to hear, but it needs to be repeated: The police can’t be everywhere. You are your own first and best line of self-defense against crime and other bad things.

  11. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    “When difficult cuts must be made, they’re virtually always made in manpower; there is really nowhere else to cut.”

    Really? I’d suggest they refrain from purchasing any more zombiewagons from the DOD if they’re laying off cops. Anyway, cops are too busy setting up speed traps to be expected to respond to actual emergencies. It’s much safer to wait 30 minutes and just file a report.

  12. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    One problem is the cops may have trouble finding your address.
    I was close to having armed intruders and the cops took 25 to 30 minutes to get to my house.

  13. avatar Ashley says:

    As always it is a case of a few good men vs. Your regular appointed protect and serve. The man who was sought after by police was left to stab another victim. The police fear for their safety but in reality the actual person fearing for their safety was stabbed in the face while police stood and watched and did not engage until the VICTIM subdued the attacker who the two police officers (who where safetly tucked away in the engineer quarters) emerged. Why were they waiting till the actual victim brought down their susspect you ask, they feared for their lives. So let him stab them in the face and you take him down while they are just watching. As usually unless its an animal that they can shoot first why would you protect and serve a person being stabbed. Who will give you a close to your case…

  14. avatar ragnar_d says:

    This is one that hits something I’ve known, and talked about, for a while now. Considering I live in a county where there are (from my talks with a couple deputies) 2 deputies covering a patrol area that could be measured in hundreds of miles (the patrol sector is pretty close to, if not more than, half of the county). I know when they get called for something, they go balls out to get there . . . but a V6 Impala that’s lugging an extra 500-700 pounds of patrol gear is not getting anywhere fast.

    In the mean time, a lot can happen in the 20 minutes it takes them to get there (if they’re not otherwise occupied).

  15. avatar DavyJones says:

    Castle Rock PD is really crappy, Castle Rock in and of its self isn’t a very large town by any means even though it is rapidly expanding and growing and sits inside Douglas County in Colorado. I honestly think many of the police officers,not sherriffs deputies or state troopers, who patrol the area, a) have thier blinders up and think “that could never happen here.” And b) would rather write speeding tickets for people going literally a mile over e posted speed limit. According to a former castle rock pd officer, there is a huge amount of corruption in that department, and if your not “one of the boys”, then you won’t be working there long.

  16. avatar JoeVK says:

    I get that they “have no legal duty to protect any individual citizen”, but how is it that all of those Castle Rock officers got away with allowing 3 kids to be killed because they were too damned lazy to do their job? I understand that they didn’t know for 100% fact that the husband was going to kill them, but he was obviously not supposed to have them or be around them. All I saw in this article that someone was breaking the law, they did nothing, and people got hurt and killed. Well, that and you can’t rely on anyone but yourself to save you.

    And I don’t get this “I can’t help because I might get hurt” B.S. either. I know it’s easy to say from the safety of this keyboard, but I wouldn’t be able to sit by and do nothing. That’s one constant in school shootings that sickens me. The cops arrive and wait until the shooting stops to go in. It’s like they’re saying “Oh, we’ve seen this type of thing on the news. They’ll eventually get tired of killing innocent children and kill themselves. Let’s wait out here ’til they’re dead.” How about grabbing your weapon and going to work? I can understand not wanting to get hurt or killed, but there’s defenseless kids inside for Christ’s sake! That’s the RIGHT way to “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”.

  17. avatar Joel says:

    I suppose “the safety of the officer” is the reason why there has been a spate of home-owners pets being shot and killed on routine visits.

  18. avatar Great Scot says:

    If you think that’s bad, in Britain the local bobbies don’t even carry guns. Even if they did show up in time to a robbery in progress, then the chances of them being able to do anything is practically nil.

  19. avatar Gregolas says:

    Outstanding Article! Thank you!

  20. avatar Eric says:

    When seconds count the police are only minutes away.

  21. avatar Glenn says:

    I witnessed an exchange of gunfire in Chicago’s Midway Airport parking after dropping my wife off. I immediately drove over and informed security, who recognized one of the shooters as one of their own by my description. I accompanied another security person to the location where both shooters had entered a poorly lit area with heavy vegetation obscuring any view within.

    Security called Chicago Police who arrived on the scene, lingered shortly in their squad cars and then departed.

    The security guard I accompanied looked at his watch, cursed, and then said something about shift change.

    We were left standing alone at the scene again.

  22. avatar Steve Huish says:

    Years ago, before the widespread use of cell phones a study was done on the time it takes for someone to call the police. Response times are the time that the phone is answered to arrival of the cops. They found that it took bet 5-8 mins for the citizen/vict to decide to call the police. People called family / friends etc. before getting around to calling the police. Our agency put up bill boards saying call a cop first. So add at least 5 mins to any response time. Its probably longer now as citizens would rather video the event rather than call
    The agency I worked for used to have the dist patrol officer go to Home Alert meetings. These meetings for the most part were run Community Service civilians We’d introduce ourselves and address neighborhood problems. Ill never forget the look on the girl running the meeting when i told the group to buy a gun and learn how to use it, that the police were only able to pick up the pieces after the crime took place………..on the good side I was never required to go to another meeting

  23. avatar IdahoPete says:

    “I recently took a brief vacation, driving from Texas to Wyoming, South Dakota and back. My trip reminded me, in stark terms, of the sheer size of our country; of the realities of time and distance.”

    Yeah, and try finding cell phone coverage in parts of Wyoming and other western states so you can make that 911 call and wait an hour for help. I-80 through the Great Divide Basin between Rawlins and Rock Springs has about 60 miles of zero coverage, and there are plenty of places just like that in the mountainous areas of the west. When you break down out there, you had better be prepared for a long stay, or hope for the kindness of strangers.

  24. avatar SGC says:

    Excellent article! Well done.

    In a past life, I was a Deputy Sheriff. Rural county in the South, about 360 square land miles. Population about 12,000. Between 6pm and 6am, there were three (3) deputies on duty…sometimes two if someone was sick or out for some reason. There were a few occasions where I was the only one: barely a man in his early 20’s alone in the dark trying to do the best he could. This was in the late 1980’s/early 90’s. My first patrol car was about 6-7 years old, and had over 300,000 miles on it (third motor, second transmission). The county paid for my uniforms, but I had to buy my gunbelt, firearms, and pretty much any other equipment I wanted to carry. I was paid about $18,000 a year. Our fire department was volunteer, and our EMS service was on contract with two trucks based in the county seat. The city police had two officers on duty at a time…and actually had someone on station at the fire house to crank up the truck for their volunteers to arrive and get to a fire in a little faster.

    Today, there are four (4) deputies on duty at any given time. Still volunteer fire services, and still a contract ambulance service. The city police now has three officers per shift, and managed to somehow create a full time fire department with six employees. Population – 18,000.

    There are many more places like this in the USA than there are New Yorks, Los Angeleses, and Chicagos. You are your own first responder.

  25. avatar Steven says:

    I love what you’re saying, but was “In the age of Obamanomics,” this really necessary? By bringing the president into this you’re just adding to the politicization of firearms.

    Drop it and you have a great piece that anyone, on either side of the aisle, would have a hard time arguing.

  26. avatar KC says:

    So basically, the police are a useless waste of tax dollars and we should all be vigilantes because there is no one to protect us but ourselves. Why do we even have a police force? If we defend ourselves then we get prosecuted. Is this justice or injustice? Inquiring miss want to know.

  27. avatar Dave says:

    If I called the police, they would probably be there in 3-5 minutes only because I called the two cops who live next door. If the encounter with an intruder lasts 90 seconds, even that 3-5 minutes would be too long.

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  29. avatar Floyd Wilson says:

    When did the Duly Elected President of the United States gain control of local municipalities budgetary actions? It seems more honest to admit failed republican governors are to blame for underfunded police.

  30. avatar Ken says:

    Great article. Living in NJ I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. I’m sure police response is better in my town than others but even 5 minutes is the difference between life and death. If I engage a criminal in my house with my legal firearm, I can be prosecuted or even sued for injuring the criminal. Now I learn that the police don’t even have an obligation to protect me. And to add insult to injury if I want to move to another state I have to pay an exit tax.

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