Many in the gun rights community have talked about the fact that the police have no duty to protect an individual citizen, but the citizenry as a whole. This 911 call from a woman in Josephine County, Ore. illustrates that problem that we face as individual citizens living our lives. In August 2012 a female called said that her ex-boyfriend was outside her house and trying to break in. She also told the dispatcher that the last time he did the she ended up in the hospital. She later told the dispatcher that “it doesn’t matter, if he gets into the house I am done.”
In 2005 the Supreme Court heard the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales and concluded that there is no constitutional right to individual police protection, even if there is a protection order in place. While there was no protection order in place in this case, the female caller did tell the dispatcher that there was a history of violence, and that a few weeks before she had been in the hospital because of her ex-boyfriend.
In 2012 the Josephine county sheriff’s office put out a schedule for shutting down their services. In that press release, found here, it is made clear that the hours for patrol will be 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. It also makes clear that calls for life threatening emergency after hours that Oregon State Police will be able to respond in a limited capacity, and only to stop an immediate threat. It also goes on to say that Josephine County Sheriff’s Office will not respond to any calls outside their reduced hours, giving citizens fair warning that they would be without police protection.
The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office was faced with a $7.5 million budget shortfall, and was forced to cut 65 positions within the department. After there was cuts made to the department, Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson released a statement urging victims of domestic violence to “consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services.”
When speaking with the Oregon State Police dispatcher, the dispatcher told the caller “Um, I don’t have anyone that I can send out there.” and then goes on to tell the caller that “You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”
The caller was later told by the dispatcher to just find somewhere to hide, in a last ditch attempt to keep the caller safe. In the end the caller was physically choked and then sexually assaulted. Her ex-boyfriend, Michael Bellah, was arrested the next day by Oregon State Police.
Unfortunately stories like this will start becoming more common as money runs out and departments have to lay off officers and deputies in order to balance their budgets. People will need to either move to somewhere that police services are available or take precautions and steps to ensure their own safety.
While everyone out there needs to evaluate their needs in terms of self protection, we do live in an uncertain world where things happen. All too often we see people that rely of the police to protect them and their families from harm. In a recent informal poll several people told this column that calling police was their number one means of protection from someone intruding into their home. Most responding to the poll said that they had no other means other than using household items such as kitchen knives or a broom handle.
If anything can be learned from the tragedy it is that we the people need to be responsible for our own safety and cannot rely on someone else to protect them, even the police. Sometimes law enforcement is tied up with something and cannot get there, other times there might not be a department at all.
This shows the need for private gun ownership in this country. The question always comes up asking why people need to own guns, and have them in their home. This call becoming public highlights that need. We have a fundamental right to self protection and cannot rely on the police, if they even exist in our area, to come to our aid all the time. Sometimes we need to take matters into out own hands and protect ourselves and our loved ones. Unfortunately in this case, the caller was unable to protect herself, tragically ending up a victim of not only the suspect, but also the system that she relied on to protect her.
As of this writing there is no reason found as to why this caller might have been prevented from owning a firearm. Calls placed to Josephine County and Oregon State Police for comment were not returned.