A Florida lawyer representing 15 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students says he is “exploring all of our options” after a federal judge ruled that law enforcement and school officials had no legal duty to protect students during a Valentine’s Day rampage at the school that left 17 people dead.
It’s been interesting watching the outrage develop of this ruling. People seem astonished that the police do not, in fact, have a duty to protect individuals.
However, this is not news to those of us who are familiar with Warren V. District of Columbia, a landmark Federal case that established that law enforcement has “the duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists”.
In other words, the police are there to protect society as a whole, not you as an individual. If that duty to society means you get protected as well, that’s great, but that is not their main mission. Now, let’s be clear: I’m not disparaging law enforcement in any way, but the fact is, the police can’t be everywhere all the time, and crooks are darn good at finding the times and places when the police aren’t around.
This means that that your personal safety is, well, personal. When something bad happens to you, you are going to be your own first responder.
How will you respond?