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  1. #1

    Question When Do Police Have to Act

    Do california police or any other police force in america have to act when something illegal happens? for example, if a person calls 911 and says a person is trying to break into her home, and the 911 operator asks a police officer to go to the house and help the women at her home and try catch the offender, can the police officer just say " Na, i can't be bothered going there" ?
    I'm asking from a legal point of view. Is there any law that says a police officer HAS to act when they receive a call?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Do Police HAVE to Act

    Here is a 1989 case, although dealing with a social service agency, it still outlines a "duty to protect" and if a "special relationship" is established to mandate such.


    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/htm...9_0189_ZS.html



    Carl may come along with some case law dealing with such on a police basis.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Do Police HAVE to Act

    As we go down this road, let's go ahead and say that officers, of course, have the authority to protect their own life.

    In other words, if a police officer believes that entering a situation will put him/her personal safety at risk, he/she may ask for backup or for another special team prior to entering.

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    Default Re: Do Police HAVE to Act

    Quote Quoting cyjeff
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    As we go down this road, let's go ahead and say that officers, of course, have the authority to protect their own life.

    In other words, if a police officer believes that entering a situation will put him/her personal safety at risk, he/she may ask for backup or for another special team prior to entering.

    Yes, they can delay if the situation is not compromised, if they must act NOW, they must do so despite personal risk.

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    Default Re: When Do Police Have to Act

    Quote Quoting tim987
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    Do california police or any other police force in america have to act when something illegal happens?
    That depends on the incident alleged, and what you would constitute an "act". There are very few requirements under the law for law enforcement. The two most key actions mandated by law is reporting domestic violence and child abuse.

    for example, if a person calls 911 and says a person is trying to break into her home, and the 911 operator asks a police officer to go to the house and help the women at her home and try catch the offender, can the police officer just say " Na, i can't be bothered going there" ?
    Legally? Yes. There would be no criminal liability by the officer if he or she failed to respond. There is no law requiring the police to zip over and catch an offender.

    Would the officer and the agency be held liable if the officer arbitrarily and without good cause decided not to respond to a crime in progress? Probably.

    I'm asking from a legal point of view. Is there any law that says a police officer HAS to act when they receive a call?
    In general, no, there is not.

    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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    Default Re: Do Police HAVE to Act

    Quote Quoting BOR
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    Yes, they can delay if the situation is not compromised, if they must act NOW, they must do so despite personal risk.
    I can conceive of no real circumstance that requires the police to act "now" in spite of personal risk.

    The issue of the special relationship is limited and requires that such a relationship be established. Making the phone call to 9-1-1 does not, by itself, create the relationship (in general ... though, a jury might find otherwise). For at least law enforcement, there exists no express "duty to protect".

    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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    Default Re: Do Police HAVE to Act

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    I can conceive of no real circumstance that requires the police to act "now" in spite of personal risk.

    The issue of the special relationship is limited and requires that such a relationship be established. Making the phone call to 9-1-1 does not, by itself, create the relationship (in general ... though, a jury might find otherwise). For at least law enforcement, there exists no express "duty to protect".

    - Carl
    If a person calls 911 and states they are being attacked in thier home and the police lally dally (is that a phrase?) to the scene and a death occurs, there is great liability. That is the "special relationship" and immediate action is obligated. Am I right there?

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    Default Re: Do Police HAVE to Act

    Quote Quoting BOR
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    If a person calls 911 and states they are being attacked in thier home and the police lally dally (is that a phrase?) to the scene and a death occurs, there is great liability. That is the "special relationship" and immediate action is obligated. Am I right there?
    It depends. If the "lally dally" was intentional and without reason, then yes, the special relationship might exist. It is not a bright line situation and the entire situation would have to be evaluated. Calling 9-1-1 and having an officer dispatched does not suddenly confer upon the police a "duty to protect" absent other circumstances.

    If you call 9-1-1 and say you are being attacked by a group of five thugs with pipes and guns, it is doubtful that a single officer is going to immediately intervene absent backup ... he might, but he might not. His waiting would likely be reasonable because his intervention would likely result in injury or death to himself. And, as the axiom goes, we cannot help anyone if we cannot intervene with reasonable safely.


    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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    Default Re: When Do Police Have to Act

    Here is a CA 9th circuit case citing Winnebago, the case I cited. I knew of Winnebago, but did not research other duty to protect cases for police.


    There is, in general, no constitutional duty of state officials to protect members of the public at large from crime. See Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 284-85, 100 S.Ct. 553, 558-59, 62 L.Ed.2d 481 (1980); Ketchum, 811 F.2d 1243, 1247 (9th Cir.1987); Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616, 618 (7th Cir.1982). However, such a duty may arise by virtue of a "special relationship" between state officials and a particular member of the public. Ketchum, 811 F.2d at 1247; Escamilla v. Santa Ana, 796 F.2d 266, 269 (9th Cir.1986). Several courts have held that, to determine whether a "special relationship" exists, a court may look to a number of factors, including (1) whether the state created or assumed a custodial relationship toward the plaintiff; (2) whether the state affirmatively placed the plaintiff in a position of danger; (3) whether the state was aware of a specific risk of harm to the plaintiff; or (4) whether the state affirmatively committed itself to the protection of the plaintiff. See Ketchum, 811 F.2d at 1247; Escamilla, 796 F.2d at 269-70; Jensen v. Conrad, 747 F.2d 185, 194 (4th Cir.1984).

    par. 18:

    In the recent case of DeShaney v. Winnebago County of Department of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189, 109 S.Ct. 998, 103 L.Ed.2d 249 (1989), however, the Supreme Court limited the circumstances giving rise to "a special relationship."


    http://altlaw.org/v1/cases/449192

  10. #10
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    Default Re: When Do Police Have to Act

    Granted, the people that maintain these sites have political axes to grind, but there are a number of sites out there that articulate this area of law by citing case law that is rather consistent:

    http://www.endtimesreport.com/NO_AFFIRMATIVE_DUTY.htm

    http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/ka...rotection.html

    And the CA Government Code even grants immunity to police for injury allegedly inflicted as a result of a failure to arrest:

    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/di...0&file=844-846

    Absent some pretty solid special relationship, the police are not going to be liable for a failure to act in a timely manner. Unless the Dispatcher says something like, "We'll get you and your family out alive, I promise ..." (and they are trained not to make such promises ... at least they are supposed to be) there should be no special relationship established with certainty.

    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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