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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 24483
Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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What is the legal obligation on duty police officer to stop

Customer Question

What is the legal obligation for a on duty police officer to stop a crime in progress. In this case a home was being robbed. Two detectives knew it was being robbed and knew who the criminals were who were committing the crime, but did nothing to stop it, or stop the criminals when they were done.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

Unfortunately, in California, the police have no duty to protect.

Section 845 of California's Government code says:

845. Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise to provide police protection service or, if police protection service is provided, for failure to provide sufficient police protection service.

Section 846 of California's Government code says this:

846. Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for injury caused by the failure to make an arrest or by the failure to retain an arrested person in custody.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In this case it was not a matter of sufficient police protection, but of the police knowingly observing a crime being committed and not acting. The police by their admission watched the crime being committed against me and chose to do nothing. The two officers hid in a garage nearby and watched what was happening. There is no duty in California to stop a crime that is being committed? These police did not know if anyone was home at the time, if there had been the results could have been tragic.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.

I understand your point, and I share in your dismay. But it looks to me that Section 846 covers that. The police would not be liable for not making an arrest here. You can certainly talk to a local civil rights lawyer, as with every general rule there are exceptions. But the US Supreme Court ruled on this issue in 1989 and again back in 2005. You can read about that here.

In general, there's no duty to protect you from a crime.