Originally published September 15 2015
Houston police admit they're not able to protect citizens; the beginning of the end of public police protection is here
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) About a decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a landmark case that many believed would have major implications for public safety.
In June 2005, the high court - in overturning a lower court's ruling - said that local police had no constitutional duty to protect and serve the communities that pay them, including a woman who had obtained a court-issued order of protection that required police to arrest a violent husband who had violated the decree.
As reported by The New York Times, the majority decision, which was written by Justice Antonin Scalia with dissenting opinions from Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, overturned an appeals court ruling that permitted a lawsuit to proceed against the city of Castle Rock, Colorado, for the failure of police to respond to a woman's call for help after her estranged husband violated a protective order and kidnapped their three young girls. He eventually killed all three of them.
Walked right through her order of protectionThe Times noted:
For hours on the night of June 22, 1999, Jessica Gonzales tried to get the Castle Rock police to find and arrest her estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, who was under a court order to stay 100 yards away from the house. He had taken the children, ages 7, 9 and 10, as they played outside, and he later called his wife to tell her that he had the girls at an amusement park in Denver.
Ms. Gonzales conveyed the information to the police, but they failed to act before Mr. Gonzales arrived at the police station hours later, firing a gun, with the bodies of the girls in the back of his truck. The police killed him at the scene.
Ms. Gonzales and her lawyers theorized that Colorado law had granted her an enforceable right to protection, literally instructing police in the court that they "shall arrest" Mr. Gonzales if he violates the order. She argued in federal court that the order gave her a "property interest" within the context of the 14th Amendment's Sect. 1 due process guarantee – the section prohibiting the deprivation of property without due process. The Fifth Amendment also contains this language.
Scalia and the majority disagreed. In writing the court's majority opinion, Scalia noted that there was high court precedence stemming from a similar case in 1989 in which the court found that local county social workers had no constitutional duty to protect a boy from a beating by his father.
Scalia also claimed that Ms. Gonzales had no "property interest" in seeing the restraining order enforced, adding that "such a right would not, of course, resemble any traditional conception of property."
Further, Scalia said that although the order of protection contained "shall arrest" language, "a well-established tradition of police discretion has long coexisted with apparently mandatory arrest statutes."
This is despite the passage of statutes in Colorado and other states during the 1990s mandating arrests in domestic violence cases.
This is why police don't have an obligation todayFast-forward nine years.
Such precedent is why police today are not required to "serve and protect," despite what logos might say on the sides of their squad cars. This principle was evident again in June 2014 when Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland was able to get away with claiming in public that his officers are under no obligation to investigate every crime because there is so much more of it than the department can handle.
"We work violent crimes first. If someone steals your trash can or your lawn mower out of your garage, there are no witnesses, there's no evidence, there's nothing for a detective to follow up on, it's not assigned," McClelland, a 37-year veteran of HPD, told City Council members during a budget hearing, according to the Houston Chronicle. "There has never been a time that I have been employed there that the Houston Police Department has had the capacity to investigate every crime that's been reported to the agency."
The comments were McClelland's first since a city study in 2013 found that HPD failed to investigate some 20,000 crimes with workable leads.
Today, Houston has fewer officers than it did a decade ago, even though crime rates are higher than they were back then.
As cash-starved cities and states around the country are forced to pour more money into welfare programs, other vital services such as roads, bridges and police will suffer. Of course, that won't matter because the highest court in the land has already let them off the hook.
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