There is an evidence video showing how BLM protestors invaded a closed, planned and paid event. The security did nothing to help the speaker who was assaulted and battered.

According to newspapers, the college told police and security to not intervene. Is that legal? Are there legal consequences for such an abdication of security?

  • Generally speaking, everyone has the absolute right to ask the police to do anything at all, provided they don't intentionally provide them with false information. This is called the right to petition and is enshrined in, among other places, the First Amendment. You can suggest bad ideas to the police and you are not liable if they follow them. Commented May 31, 2016 at 9:07
  • which colleges?
    – obfuscated
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 17:33

2 Answers 2


In the United States: Government law enforcement agencies have no specific duty to provide security to an individual. This was established in Warren v. DC:

The duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists.

Private security personnel don't have any special duties above those enumerated in their contract.

The closest legal requirement to provide aid to another may be under the common law "duty to rescue" concept, but statutory law on that does not seem substantial in the United States.


Adding to Feetwet's answer, in Souza v. City of Antioch it was ruled that "Police officers have no affirmative statutory duty to do anything", and in calling on common law concepts of duty, one must distinguish misfeasance and nonfeasance (doing badly and not doing). Drawing from the decision, "one person owed no duty to control the conduct of another":

the police owe no duty to crime victims in those cases where they have not acted to protect them, i.e., cases of nonfeasance. In contrast, when the police actively involve themselves in situations where a third party threatens another, we have imposed upon them an affirmative duty, generally under the rubric of a “special relationship” with either the victim or the actor, to exercise reasonable care

It is more the rule to let political disturbances burn themselves out quietly, rather than aggressively arrest everyone who might be charged with a crime, because (1) such intervention can exacerbate the situation and (2) it can create a "special relationship" where the police do become liable.

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