Say that a city abolishes their police department based on accusations of systematic racism within their police ranks. The following day a person living in that city calls 911 to report that their home is being burglarized but no police show up at their home until several hours later. Can this person sue the city for not providing in a timely manner the services needed to protect themselves and/or their property?

  • 2
    There is still county law enforcement and state police, and based on actual history, the assumption that response will be worse is not given. When the city of Camden NJ disbanded city police in 2012, the county built up the county-wide police force, and in this aftermath of this municipal disbandment event, violent crime is reduced 42% in 2020 compared to 2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camden_County_Police_Department
    – user662852
    Jun 16, 2020 at 14:01
  • The state isn't bound to protect your property even if there is a police department. The decision to employ or not employ police is a legislative decision. If the voting public disagrees with the decision they can elect different representatives of their interests. Recognize that if some communities see the police as a bigger problem than crooks, they may desire different outcomes than you.
    – Tiger Guy
    Jun 18, 2020 at 16:58

1 Answer 1


No. The government generally has no duty to protect private citizens from each other.

It was different facts but basically the same question in DeShaney v. Winnebago Cty. DSS, 489 U.S. 189 (1989), where the Supreme Court held:

A State's failure to protect an individual against private violence generally does not constitute a violation of the Due Process Clause, because the Clause imposes no duty on the State to provide members of the general public with adequate protective services. The Clause is phrased as a limitation on the State's power to act, not as a guarantee of certain minimal levels of safety and security; while it forbids the State itself to deprive individuals of life, liberty, and property without due process of law, its language cannot fairly be read to impose an affirmative obligation on the State to ensure that those interests do not come to harm through other means.

You must log in to answer this question.