Police Officers Protecting and Serving
Should Police officers have a legal obligation to protect and serve?
The United States is in a craze over the response from police during the Uvalde massacre. There have been multiple posts, comments, etc. in the last few days about Castle v. Rock Gonzales, DeShaney v. Winnebago, and the case following the Parkland shooting. They all reflect the misunderstanding about the decisions in those cases.
The Supreme Court of the United States has confirmed several times that police officers have NO CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATION to involve themselves in a violent situation. This obligation can be codified into state or federal law, but as far as I have seen, it hasn’t been done.
This is most likely due to the fact that police didn’t exist as they are today when the Constitution was drafted and therefore wording about their obligations was obviously not included in the text. This was the basis for these decisions and it has nothing to do with how individual judges feel about it.
This is something I believe should be encouraged to be placed into law. I understand it can be complicated, especially if a law concerns how police would/should deal with certain violent situations, which can be dynamic and it is hard to apply a universal rule to all situations.
There is too a difference between employment duty and duty under the law:
Employment Duty: Do your job, if you don’t, you can be fired
Duty Under the Law: Do your job, if you don’t, any citizen can sue you
Still, I 100% believe they should be taking action to protect, but if you give someone an obligation to act in certain circumstances, it can lead to them making things worse. Just think of blundering into a hostage situation or charging in and shooting and ending up killing innocent people.
At the end of the day, it is a hard question. Even in the military, there’s no duty to act in general. There are duties to follow the lawful orders of your superiors. If no one was ordering them to get in there, the failure seems to be with the ranking police officer on the scene who should ultimately suffer career consequences.