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Decades ago, the chief judge of the New York Supreme Court said that any decent prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Grand juries were originally designed to keep people who don’t belong in court out of court, and then once in court, another jury is there to keep people who don’t belong in prison out of prison. But, the system isn’t perfect.

Experts are involved at every step in the process, and it’s their job to manipulate the average Joes and Janes who get invited to participate in the process. Going into that maelstrom without at least one expert on your side is a recipe for a prison sentence.

Police, on the other hand, have enjoyed a lot of protection from prosecution over the decades. Most police officers, sheriffs deputies, troopers and other cops are good people who are trying their hardest to make the communities they serve better and safer, but there are occasions where we’ve seen the lazy, the cowardly and the inept take advantage of legal protection the system has provided.

One of the more controversial protections law enforcement has enjoyed came from the Warren v. District of Columbia decision. In that decision, the court ruled that police do have a general duty to protect the community, but not specific duty to any particular individual. So, when a police officer like the “Broward Coward” gets acquitted for failing to protect students, we shouldn’t be particularly surprised. Police are legally protected from their failures in ways people in other industries are not.

But, this protection can’t last forever in the face of public criticism. The recent indictment of Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo shows us that citizens are prepared to ignore that argument and indict anyway. We don’t know what’s going to come next, as the argument of “no duty to protect” could win in court. Or, Arredondo and others in his boat could prevail upon appeal, perhaps even to the Supreme Court. Only time will tell.

One thing that’s for sure at this point is that the general population has had it with “no duty to protect.” Regardless of where people stand on the gun control debate, the botched non-response to the Uvalde shooting is almost universally condemned. Sure, the anti-gun crowd disingenuously uses this as an argument against “good guys with guns,” but they don’t believe that Arredondo and others did the right thing that day.

Institutions like the Supreme Court and all of the lower courts that are supposed to live by their opinions aren’t supposed to change their minds when the winds of public opinion shift. But, when a wider climactic change happens in public opinion, the law can change. Roe v. Wade fell in 2022 after decades of effort by pro-life groups. Gun control is in the process of falling after the NYSRPA v. Bruen decision upended decades of anti-gun rulings. Going further back in history, there are plenty of examples of legal interpretation changing with the times, including the end of “separate but equal” in education and the Dred Scott decision (widely considered to be the worst ruling the Supreme Court ever made). That last one required constitutional amendments, but change came.

I think we’re reaching the end of the days where cowardly and inept law enforcement can get away with neglecting the very real duty to protect. The Supreme Court might have ruled that they don’t have a specific duty to protect specific people, but We The People largely don’t agree with that. This may be the case that ends up breaking that bad legal framework and replacing it with the duty that all good law enforcement officers already feel in their hearts.

The depressing thing is that it required such an epic failure to even get this process started and send a truly heinous problem on a years-long journey back up to the court. As a society, we shouldn’t have to wait for decades and let such a senseless slaughter occur on the public watch before we step up and demand change.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. “… the botched non-response to the Uvalde shooting is almost universally condemned…”

    They didn’t botch the non-response. They did a pretty good job with the non-response. They botched the response.

    But using the words ‘botch’ and ‘botched’ is being too kind, it implies they were actually going to do something about the issue and just screwed up while trying to do that. In reality they were like all cowards, as screwed up as a soup sandwich from the very beginning. But hey, one guy did a pretty good response on the hand sanitizer dispenser.

    • Had I the power, accessory to murder would be the charge. Perhaps even before the fact, but certainly during…

      They seemed to be sympathetic to the killer’s efforts to run up his score.

      In a just universe, if they stood next to the hero from the McAllen TX shooting, they would burst into flame like vampires in direct sunlight.

  2. The recourse is sue the socks off dirty law enforcement.

    On the other hand the democRat Party can add elderly abuse to owning the Legacy of Slavery.

    TRUMP 2024.

  3. I was a cop for 23 years.
    About half of the police do the best they can, will help you if they can, and plan to go home at night.
    About ten per cent do all the real work- special teams, accident reconstruction, gang interdiction, and things of that nature.
    A good ten per cent have no business wearing a badge.
    In Uvalde looks like the ratio of no business wearing a badge was more like eighty per cent. Happens when a lazy coward runs an agency

    • …. ” Watch It!!, he has an assault rifle. “…. said someone to the 400 or so cops on scene holding M4s.

      • No shit, not only did that become their excuse, but the left jumped on it to call for an assault weapons ban, yet again. Effing inexcuseable.

        • so, well over 400 real assault rifles on scene, but the only “deadly” one was held by the perp?
          I guess that means on that day less than a quarter percent of them were a danger to anyone – statistically speaking hardly anything to worry about, right ?

    • So, how do you know which kind you are dealing with?

      Better to avoid cops altogether, as much as possible. Don’t outsource the welfare of your family to public servants. Home school and carry a gun, for pity’s sake.

      • Q: So, how do you know which kind you are dealing with?

        A: You don’t until you are hip deep in the encounter and by the , it’s too late to do anything about it.

        One thing to remember though, good or bad, they ALWAYS circle the wagons and cover each other’s back even when demonstrably in the wrong. You will ALWAYS lose against the blue wall of silence. Agreed, it is better to avoid all together.

    • 90/10 (or 95/5) rule is true in dang near every situation involving human performance.

      “Who was in change” under NIMS is likely to be a major issue/problem for the prosecution.

  4. I agree that cops have too much legal protection for mistakes. The question is where we draw the line between an honest mistake and a screwup. Cops need some protection, because they have to go after the bad guys in risky ways and we don’t. Uvalde went way beyond an error in judgement. Why didn’t the cops see that at the time?

    • “where we draw the line between an honest mistake and a screwup.”

      When “no duty to protect” becomes tacit or explicit conspiracy to harm.

  5. Do they still give out white feather’s? That all I saw from those cop’s in Uvalde. And all I saw last night was an old man with a load of drugs in his evil behind. Trump 2024!

  6. “The depressing thing is that it required such an epic failure to even get this process started and send a truly heinous problem on a years-long journey back up to the court.”

    Change only comes when innocents die. It’s been that way for millennia, and it will always be that way.

  7. I hope the Uvalde police chief is found not guilty. Seriously. Then, finally, maybe the entire country will realize you can’t count on the police. You can’t rely on the cops for anything.

    And the let the local militias take over for your protection.

    We will always have law enforcement. The only question is. In what form it will take?

  8. Remember in a 2005 Supreme Court case it was ruled that law enforcement has no constitutional duty or obligation to protect citizens from harm, including children. That ruling was later affirmed by a Federal Court after the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Florida. Whether you agree or not with those rulings. There they are. Courage and pride in the services Individuals perform or by a government bodies has always been hit or miss and unfortunately can’t be confirmed until S has already HTF.
    Police Have No Duty to Protect You, Federal Court Affirms Yet Again | Mises Institute
    https://mises.org/power-market/police-have-no-duty-protect-you-federal-court-affirms-yet-again

  9. Government prosecutors lie all the time. Government prosecutors hide evidence that would prove someone to be innocent. This happens on a regular basis.

    And almost no libertarian, liberal, or leftist ever complains about it. And same for the conservatives too.

    And now prosecutors regularly do not prosecute violent crimes.

  10. It is difficult to grasp how so many could stand down/do nothing while innocent lives were being taken and it makes no difference the ages of those being killed. Human lives were lost because the many on hand at the scene with the means to stop the slaughter stood around doing nothing.
    If those who did nothing have a conscious live long enough, at some point in time their conscious is going to eat them up………..as well it should.

    • Not if they have no conscience. Which is the case for those who worship at the alter of Liberalism. The ends always justifies the means. Even when it costs innocent lives.

  11. Yes, this was pretty egregious non-feasance. But there’s an old expression in the law that “hard facts make bad law.” That is, facts that make us feel awful about what happened can make us create law that we may regret later. I don’t know what the answer is, but you can take it to the bank that if this duty to protect specific individuals is created, then EVERY time an individual is harmed by a bad actor, a police officer will be indicted or sued for failure to provide protection.

    • Wasn’t it worse than that, though? I thought the Uvalde cops beat and tazed the parents who wanted to assist?

  12. If Law Enforcement has no duty to protect then the law should stay out of a citizen protecting themselves .
    Shooting someone in the back for riding off on your bicycle, no problem. I guess he shouldn’t have stolen your bicycle.
    Watch crime go down when laws do not protect the criminals anymore.

    • …. nah, shoot ’em in the ass…. guaranteed they wont be stealing any bikes for a goodwhile, and give them plenty of time to dwell on it

      • Nah, they’ll just become or continue to be a cancer on resources. Possum’s cure is permanent and eco friendly.

  13. Jennifer,
    Thank you for this excellently written article. It brought out some of the best comments that I have seen, and provoked deep discussion.
    I was most impressed by Former Water Walker’s reference to one of the best (Should be required viewing in grade school) B&W movies of the 30’s, “The Four Feathers”.
    Nicely done, Jen!

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