Warehouse G

Calling 911


The Myth Of Police Protection In America

By James Donahue

Lawyer Richard W. Stevens, author of the book Dial 911 and Die, makes a strong case for the Second Amendment, our right to bear arms. Stevens maintains that Americans have been given the promise of the 911 safety net to encourage more citizens to give up gun ownership.

In practice, however, Stevens argues that “the police cannot and do not protect everyone from crime,” and “the government and the police in most localities owe no legal duty to protect individuals from criminal attack. When it comes to deterring crime and defending against criminals, individuals are ultimately responsible for themselves and their loved ones.”

The author also notes that statistics show “many criminals use firearms to commit their crimes. For example, in 1997, criminals did so in 68 percent of murders and 40 percent of robberies. Thus criminals either have or can obtain firearms. Thus existing gun control laws do not stop serious criminals from getting guns and using them in crimes.”

Stevens concludes “it makes little sense to disarm the innocent victims while the criminals are armed. It is especially silly to disarm the victims when too often the police are simply unable to protect them.”

Over the years we have seen the validity of this argument. When we lived in Arizona, we noticed that nearly everyone owned firearms of some kind. Many folks wore handguns in holsters clearly strapped on their side, which is legal in that state. I recall waiting in line in a drug store while the man in front of me showed off his new weapon to the female clerk, and she in turn took the time show off her own personal handgun.

On another occasion I was in an automobile garage having my car serviced when a customer and the manager became involved in a serious verbal argument. The customer was wearing a handgun on his hip and by the way he was expressing his anger, I expected him to draw his weapon at any moment. He didn’t.

I was working on an Arizona newspaper and had easy access to crime statistics (in the early days of the Internet). I was amazed to discover that the rate of violent crime with guns, per capita, in Arizona was relatively low when compared to Michigan, where I formerly lived, and where gun control laws were strictly enforced. It was hard in Michigan to own a handgun, and if you had one, you rarely qualified for a permit to carry it.

And it was in Michigan where my wife and I were openly robbed in plain view of the entire community while we were in California for the winter. When we learned that a rental truck was backed up to our front door and all of our things were being loaded on it, we called the police. We were told to come back to Michigan and sign a complaint. Even if we could have booked a flight that day, which we couldn’t, by the time we could have gotten home it would have been too late.

Some years back when we lived in a major Michigan city, my wife witnessed a felony crime in progress and called the police. As happened when we sought help to stop the robbery of our home, she was told to come to the police station and sign a complaint. She couldn’t believe the police refused to respond. Yet a few weeks after that she was issued a speeding ticket when her car exceeded the limit at the bottom of a steep hill.

During the years I worked closely with police as a news reporter, I failed to notice the change that was occurring among the officers until the day came when reporters were unexpectedly blocked from access to the nightly log. We had to be photographed and fingerprinted before we could be issued special “press” badges that gave us access to the squad room to talk to officers. The log was suddenly off limits to us. Instead, reporters were issued the news reports the commanding officer decided we could see.

The transparency of police operations suddenly disappeared and all news from police departments was off limits. Now the police news you read or see on your television screen has been doled out to reporters by the police. The public no longer knows the full story concerning the police operations.

The interesting “behind-the-scenes” stories, like the detective that accidentally shot himself in the foot when he jumped out of his car while unholstering his handgun, or the time police hired a psychic to help them solve a mystery death, were to go untold.

Other great stories that came directly off that log included the girl who entered the barn on her family’s farm, reached out in the dark to switch on a light, and touched what she said was a large hairy beast, and a rash of telephone calls reporting a UFO sighting in the same area on the same night. Those reports probably would not be among the handouts to the media.

While I still worked that police beat, I continued to maintain my “contacts” within the department; people I could trust and who trusted me not to disclose their names. That is how good news reporters have to work if they expect to properly dig out the stories. Once I retired, however, even my snitches gave me the cold shoulder. I had moved into the realm of the “them and us” mentality experienced by the general public.

That is exactly how most people in America view police now. Instead of sticking by the old motto: “To Protect and Serve,” modern police officers have become “Enforcers” of law. Instead of helping in troublesome situations, the appearance of police usually compounds the problem.