You are the Enemy
Update, June 25, 2003

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> Injured motorists have no right to expect help 
> from the California Highway Patrol -- even 
> when officers arrive in time to save a life, a 
> lawyer for the state Department of Justice 
> office told a judge Tuesday.

You read it right, folks. In California, at least, if 
you're hurt, the cops have no obligation to help you. 
Specifically, if you fall off a bridge, and you're dying 
on the ground, the police don't have to call an 
ambulance. That's what happened to a young man named 
Aaron Jelks:

> A.J. Jelks lived for about two hours after 
> trying to leap across the 6-foot gap 
> separating the freeway bridges. He fell 60 
> feet, then crawled in dirt with broken heels, 
> a fractured pelvis and broken sternum, 
> authorities said. His body was found the next 
> day.
> Minutes after Jelks fell, CHP officers Joe 
> Frasier and Ron Whiting arrived on the bridge. 
< The veteran patrolmen surveyed the scene and 
> drove away after ordering a tow truck to 
> remove Jelks' car, which had crashed into the 
> center guardrail.

Here's the kicker:

> The CHP has not denied the patrolmen knew Jelks 
> was in peril. A motorist saw the crash and 
> called the CHP's 911 dispatch to describe it.

I guess they were late for their doughnut break.

There you have it, folks. I've often read in various 
contexts that the police have no obligation to protect 
citizens from specific threats, but this takes it a step 
further. Of course it may only apply in California: if 
the TV show LAW AND ORDER is any guide, in New York you
can be prosecuted for "depraved indifference." (You 
guessed it -- I'm no lawyer.)

What is especially horrifying about this is indeed the 
depraved indifference shown by the police in this matter 
-- not only that displayed by the cops on the scene, but 
by the police higher-ups in defending them. To add 
insult to injury, the police lawyer said that the police 
department couldn't be liable for Jelks's fall from the 
bridge. Of course, that's not the issue -- it's weasely 
lawyer talk designed to draw attention away from the 
issue. Nobody said the police were liable for his fall, 
only that they should have helped him afterwards.

Just what are we supposedly paying them for, if they 
won't even help you when you're hurt? This is just 
further proof that the policeman is not your friend.


David T. Wright's original article "You Are the Enemy" 
may be found at:
Updates are posted as events come to Mr. Wright's 

Go to the Archive of “Enemy” Updates.

Copyright (c) 2003 by the All rights reserved.