But The Police will Protect Me!
Yes; they will – if and when they get there. In almost every jurisdiction, the police are hopelessly overtasked. Some people in large metropolitan areas draw a sense of comfort from the knowledge that their police department consists of several thousand officers; all sworn, trained, and ready to protect the citizens from dangers great and small. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is very different. Consider the following: According to the City of New York’s official website, the NYPD – the largest municipal police department in the nation – has 34,500 sworn officers. That is quite a lot, but not nearly as many as you might think. In 2013, the City of New York had a population of 8.6 million residents. That works out to about one police officer for every 249 residents. As troubling as that is, it does not end there. Of those 34,500 sworn officers, how many of them are non-patrol supervisors, lieutenants, captains, detectives, special details, or command staff ranks? Suffice to say, only a fraction of those 34,500 sworn officers are assigned to regular patrol duties. And those officers are disbursed over several shifts, which brings the number of officers on patrol at any given time down considerably. They are also more heavily concentrated in known high-crime areas, so they are by no means disbursed evenly throughout the city. Factor in how many officers are, at any given time, busy with calls for service, arrests, administrative duties, or just stuck in traffic, and the number drops down even more. Then factor in the sheer size of the City of New York (all five boroughs), and you begin to wonder if there are any police actually patrolling the streets. And this is with the largest municipal police department in America. Most cities, towns and counties face the same situation, but with far fewer sworn officers. In the event of an emergency, you might be lucky just to get the attention of your local police. Now who is going to protect you?
Even if you manage to contact your police, it does not mean that you are saved. They still have to get to you. As of 2014, the average police response time to a “911” emergency call is 11 minutes. In many locales, it is longer because of the distances involved and the lower number of officers available at any given time. This is particularly true in rural areas, but some cities are no better off. A blog article on the Wall Street Journal’s website dated August 2nd, 2013, reported that the average police response time to emergency calls in Detroit was 58 minutes.1 A lot of bad things can happen to you in 11 minutes. A lot more can happen to you in 58 minutes. And that is assuming that the “911” call system is not overloaded when you call. If it is, your cry for help will become one of the countless thousands of emergency calls that are “dropped” by the system, in which case no one is coming to assist you. Your local police department will never receive the call, so they will never know that you are in danger. The conclusion is clear and undeniable: the police cannot and will not guarantee your safety. You have the primary responsibility for the safety of yourself and your loved ones.
This blog is about basic, commonsense personal safety. The folks at Called to be Safe want to help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the threats that are, unfortunately, part and parcel of life in this day and age.
1 Bialik, Carl. “Giving No Time to Misleading Police Stats,” The Wall Street Journal, 02 August 2013. http://blogs.wsj.com/numbers/response-times-detroit-giving-no-time-to-misleading-police-stats-1264/