An individual with a known mental health/substance abuse history was held in protective custody on a given night due to heavy drinking and unsafe behavior. That individual was released from custody in the morning. That afternoon police were called due to a videochat in which the individual had a noose hanging in the background. The police department made no attempt to enter the house although all doors were open and did not attempt to call the concerned caller (parent) for additional information? Is there any potential liability for the municipality or police department which told the parent that they would send police and an ambulance -- and nothing was done to intervene.

  • Did police or paramedic talk to the individual? Is the individual an adult? Did the individual harm him/herself after the visit? – mkennedy Dec 27 '17 at 21:46
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    You say no attempt was made to enter - does that mean they did show up and decided not to enter? Or did they never show up at all? If they weren't able to get visuals on anything from e.g. windows, they may have felt that they didn't have good enough cause to enter if no one responded (I've been in this situation, where police stood outside my house for upwards of 30 minutes when they received a possible suicide call about my brother - they were about to leave when I answered the door). Whether or not the doors were unlocked is irrelevant. – animuson Dec 28 '17 at 1:54
  • As my answer indicates, the jurisdiction involves matters a lot. The rule in India is likely to differ from the rule in Germany or France which is likely to differ from the rule in England or Canada which does differ from the rule in the U.S. – ohwilleke Dec 29 '17 at 4:05

In the United States, there is no potential liability for the municipality or the police department. There is no legally enforceable duty of police to act to prevent either violations of the law, or apprehend criminals, or to prevent suicide of people who are not in police custody.

Other countries have different laws on this subject.

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  • The only source of liability, absent some additional facts, is the release from custody. – Acccumulation Dec 31 '17 at 1:00

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