Can You Count On Police Protection?

© 2006 Chuck Klein

Let's say you and your family are enjoying an outing at a local retail store, public arena or government office. Let's further say that a person intent on wreaking havoc by taking hostages and/or killing all in your environ suddenly appears. If you're armed, you certainly stand a chance of at least protecting your family and yourself. If, of course, the location you are visiting is one that statutorily prohibits law-abiding, licensed gun carriers - you if you complied with this mandate - will be dependent upon the police to "save" yourself and your loved ones.

THE BEST OF CHUCK KLEINUsed to be when a real emergency popped up, a police officer could be counted on to respond and take action. Today, it ain't necessarily so. The Columbine, Colorado high school tragedy brought to light that police doctrine has evolved into one of "officer safety takes precedent over all else." In the aftermath of Columbine, the sheriff is heard on national TV saying he didn't order his men into the building because he didn't want them to get hurt!

I was one of very few who criticized this trend with articles in The Law Enforcement Trainer and American Police Beat. Many officers responded to my critique with anger that I would dare to question their concern for "their" safety. Typical and most telling was an e-mail from a Midwest police chief who wrote: "Most officers have families, just like everyone else. Their main goal is to get home safely at the end of each shift, and I agree with that philosophy 100 percent." Excuse me, I was always under the impression that the "main goal" of a police officer was to serve AND protect. I have never advocated that police should sacrifice their lives for another, but we pay them to protect us - that should be their "main goal."

Recently, (March of 2006), an incident occurred that indicates there has been no attitude change in the American police world. Here, a man called the West Chester, Ohio 911 dispatcher saying he shot his wife. He then hangs up. The dispatcher calls back while dispatching police and the ambulance. The wife answers the phone saying her husband has shot her and himself and he's lying near her on the floor, moaning. She further states she is bleeding to death and "please hurry" urging them to "bust in" because the doors are locked. The first officer arrives four minutes later, but decides to wait for backup and a supervisor to arrive. All the while the dispatcher is still talking to the fading victim who has tendered the security code to the garage door hoping to speed the rescue. Three minutes later the ambulances and one fire truck arrive on scene. The police continue to consider options and dangers before finally forcing the front door to the home - 8 minutes after the arrival of the first officer. The woman is transported to the hospital where she is pronounced dead a few hours later. In a follow-up article in The Cincinnati Enquirer, a West Chester police Lieutenant, citing officer safety, stated: "Their [responding officers] actions were extremely appropriate."

A firearm might not have helped her, but the point is the police can't be counted on for anything other than post-incident, investigative tactics.

This country was founded on the premise that we must rely on ourselves for basic survival. These incidents show clearly the police, who have always touted they can't be everywhere, are now saying they won't even be there.