Heroes Rush In Where Police Fear To Tread

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

We’ve read several times on this blog about police reluctance to help drowning victims and even to prohibit family members from leaping into the water to save their loved ones (here) when authorities refuse to help. Seems the policy is now international. Scottish police stood idly by, keeping back onlookers, as a 37 year-old woman thrashed about in the water near Glasgow’s  Albert Bridge  and repeatedly called for help.

At that moment, three Glasgow University students, Graham McGrath, Rosie Lucey and Rhys Black were walking along the River Clyde and heard the pleas for help. Eschewing official policy, McCGarth and Lucey leapt into the river and pulled out  the unidentified drowning woman. Black then waded in to the water and helped pull all three to safety. The three performed CPR until the woman was revived — all without the aid of local Strathclyde Police officers who gave more priority to crowd control.

Before the students arrived, onlookers had tried to throw floatation devices in the river, but to no avail. Moments before the rescue, the near-victim had slipped beneath the water.  The actions of the three quick-thinking students clearly saved her life.  Said McGrath, “There was a woman in the water shouting for help. There was somebody throwing lifebelts to her, but she couldn’t get to them …nobody was doing anything else  ”  Lucey added, “‘We realised we were watching someone drown.”

Particularly galling were the words of  a police spokesman who sniffed, “‘It is not the responsibility of the police to go into the water – it’s the fire and rescue service.” 

One wonders about the police officers responsibilities as human beings.

Source:  Mail Online

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

82 thoughts on “Heroes Rush In Where Police Fear To Tread”

  1. anon nurse
    1, January 3, 2011 at 11:57 am
    FF LEO,

    I failed…
    ==================================================

    Me too.

  2. Blouise:

    “If no one is responsible for protecting me from harm, then is it not my responsibility to protect myself by whatever means I deem necessary?

    Once again … just wondering.”

    ****************

    You have the right to protect yourself and others using all reasonable and necessary (but not unnecessary) force at your disposal taking into account the circumstances of the threat and based upon your actual subjective assessment of harm that is threatened by the attacker. Of course, your subjective belief must be a reasonable one. Thus the jury may “stand in your shoes” as it assesses what is objectively reasonable under the cricumstances as you perceived them to be. (The subjective-objective test)

  3. FFleo:

    “Please point out that state constitutions likely differ from the U.S. Constitution and posit an example or two.”

    ******************

    Would love to accommodate you FFLeo, but most states find no constitutional duty to provide protection to citizens merely to enforce the laws fairly. Some states like Kansas and California spell it out explicitly bu statute; others rely on court decisions.

    For anyone interested, Helen Kugel has written about a novel approach using the famous Bivens decision* in a state context to support civil claims against government actors for negligently failing to protect citizens from harm under various state constitutional provisions. Simply stated, Kugel reasons that state courts could recognize implied causes of action for such a violation using the Bivens rationale to vindicate state constitutional protections. To date I am not aware of any decisions adopting that approach. Here’s her excellent article in the Columbia Law review (Vol. 110:1294) which includes a survey of state law:

    http://www.columbialawreview.org/assets/pdfs/110/5/Gugel.pdf

    * In 1971 in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971, the SCOTUS ruled that an implied cause of action existed for an individual whose Fourth Amendment rights had been violated by federal agent, despite the lack of any federal statute authorizing such a suit.

  4. FFLEO,

    Yeah I did read but I need more time to formulate a proper response to his post. I’ll probably respond to it tomorrow. I’m just bit puzzled that Lincoln PD would make such a screw-up in their announcement for their reasons of doing tackle/arrest. So I’ll have to disclose what they shouldn’t have said in the first place as well.

  5. ChaZ,

    If you have time, read what NebDefAtty states over on the Lincoln Neb Crossbow thread.

  6. Oh, great. Just because of one or two cops who didn’t do anything to save a drowning victim in a far-away land, it gives you right to call ALL cops cowards?

    I know few cops who have ran into burning apartment (against department policy) to save the tenants. I have known one or two cops who have jumped into river (still wearing their duty belts and bullet resistant vests and very against department policies) to save children from drowning. I also know some who have pulled passengers out of burning vehicles on highway.

    Just because of one or two cops who did not attempt to rescue a drowning victim, you think it’s all right to brand all of us as cowards?

    Guess what? I’m not going to tell those brave cops that they’re still coward because of what other cops didn’t do. I’m not going to tell them that they’re not heroes. Nope. Instead, you are going to be one to tell them in their faces.

    That’s right. A person who says all cops are coward, anonymously over internet without even telling a real cop on street in his or her face that all cops are coward.

    Who’s really a coward after all?

  7. Doesn’t matter whether the duty is “constitutional” or not. Duty is based on knowledge that what you are doing is dangerous to other people. Like you have a duty not to lend your car to a drunk driver.

    If the police make policy decisions not to protect, then they are substantially raising risks of harm to the public. If husbands are throwing discarded wives off the bridge and the police are letting them drown, then the police are enabling murder. Then the murder rate will increase.

  8. Mespo wrote,

    “In 2005, the SCOTUS ruled that police hve no constitutional duty under the federal constituion to protect citizens from harm.”
    ______________________

    Mespo,

    If you have the time, I respectfully suggest that one of your next topics headlines this issue. Please point out that state constitutions likely differ from the U.S. Constitution and posit an example or two.

    I have little doubt that at least 90% of the U.S. citizenry would fail the following True/False question:

    Do police have a constitutional duty under the federal constitution to protect citizens from harm?

  9. Taking this off-topic, briefly. A very interesting interview, IMHO…

    re: RT interview with founder of cryptome.org

    ‘Spy services feed info to whistleblowers to keep tabs on site visitors’

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMRUiB_8tTc&feature=player_embedded#!

    “Cryptome.org was publishing classified and secret documents long before WikiLeaks made headlines. Cryptome co-founder John Young told RT such sites are allowed to stay online so that spy services might keep an eye on their visitors. There is no secrecy on the Internet, John Young warned.”

    Of course, most are well aware of his last point…

  10. “I’m glad this post generated such interest.In 2005, the SCOTUS ruled that police hve no constitutional duty under the federal constituion to protect citizens from harm.” (mespo)

    ==============================================

    Just wondering:

    Hmmmmmmmmmm … would I not then be better off looking to my ancestors who struggled through the days of “lawlessness” in the Wild West for guidance? Perhaps arming myself as some do, prepared to shoot first and ask questions later?

    And, upon further reflection, seeing the trend of cops shooting, tasing, and injuring innocent citizens, would I not be better off shooting them first and asking questions later?

    If no one is responsible for protecting me from harm, then is it not my responsibility to protect myself by whatever means I deem necessary?

    Once again … just wondering.

  11. “In 2005, the SCOTUS ruled that police hve no constitutional duty under the federal constituion to protect citizens from harm.” -mespo

    I had no idea…

    “Despite her numerous pleas that the police arrest the man,he killed all three daughters.” -mespo

    …”to protect and serve”, right?

  12. I’m glad this post generated such interest.In 2005, the SCOTUS ruled that police hve no constitutional duty under the federal constituion to protect citizens from harm. That decisison focused on a horrible domestic violence case in which the local Colorado police failed to protect a woman armed with a restraining order and an arrest warrant for her estranged husband who had taken the couple’s children despite the order. Despite her numerous pleas that the police arrest the man,he killed all three daughters. The husband was later killed in a police shootout at the police station. The case is Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005) and follows a long line of similarly decided cases.

  13. All’s well that ends well, I’m sure after such wonderful publicity for their force, officers in that region will be advised to stay away from the river completely, for fear of a repeat public non-performance.

    and the moral of the story?

    If you get into trouble in Glasgow, don’t shout for a policeman, shout for a student, as it looks like they’re more likely to be of use*/be able to swim*/be allowed to help*/be able to help*/not have to complete a risk assessment*

    *Delete as appropriate

Comments are closed.