The duties of a police officer are to protect and serve — unless they don’t feel like it, apparently. A Manhattan Supreme Court Justice has ruled that the City of New York has no legal obligation to protect its citizens, even if armed police are present at the scene of a dangerous incident.
The case centered around Joseph Lozito, who was stabbed in the face, hands, and neck by deranged attacker Maksim Gelman. As reported by Gothamist:
Gelman stabbed Joseph Lozito in the face, neck, hands and head on an uptown 3 train in February 2011, after fatally stabbing four people and injuring three others in a 28-hour period. Lozito, a father of two and an avid martial arts fan, was able to tackle Gelman and hold him down, and Gelman was eventually arrested by the transit officers. Lozito sued the city, arguing that the police officers had locked themselves in the conductor's car and failed to come to his aid in time.
Police representatives argued that they had no “special duty” to intervene, and judge Margaret Chan agreed. Chan ruled that the police had no reason to believe that Lozito was in danger at the time, despite the fact that, by Chan’s own words, "The dismissal of this lawsuit does not lessen Mr. Lozito’s bravery or the pain of his injuries. Mr. Lozito heroically maneuvered the knife away from Gelman and subdued him on the subway floor."
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The ruling leaves New Yorkers with a burning question: what’s the point of having a police force if the officers twiddle their thumbs when they are needed most and stop and frisk citizens when they’re needed least? To make matters worse, New York has some of the strictest gun control policies in the country. If citizens cannot defend themselves and officers will not defend citizens either, what other options are available?
In Lozito’s case, the answer is to apparently hope that you survive and then wait for your attacker to get thrown in jail. Gelman received 200 years in prison plus an additional 25 years — for all that it mattered — for stabbing Lozito.
What is your take on the story? Should the New York Police Department grow a pair, or at this point are the citizens of New York better off throwing the baby out with the bathwater and dissolving the NYPD altogether?