Previous   Next

Would you assist a law enforcement officer who was struggling with a suspect?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on August 22, 2006

Browse the archives

Photo of Toni Kim

“I wouldn’t get physically involved, but I would call the police so they could send help.”

Photo of Barry Barnes

“It depends. If I saw that the suspect had hurt someone and really needed to be stopped, and I didn’t think the cop could handle it. But if I didn’t know the whole story, I would probably just stay away.”

Photo of Gary Kimball

“Yes, because I work with law enforcement every day. I would do whatever I could to make sure they stay safe.”

Photo of Amanda Hauf

“No. It’s not my job, it’s not a safe situation and I don’t have the proper training to do something like that.”

Related story


audvisartist 10 years ago

You bet I would. I'd be laying the smack down on that perp's a$$.

Kuku_Kansas 10 years ago

What if I answered I'd help the suspect????

sunflower_sue 10 years ago

I'd sure like to think I would...if the perp wasn't wielding a gun or biting or throwing fruitcakes or something.

southerngirl 10 years ago

I bet ole Bob would go off into a phone booth and don his pleather jumsuit and emerge to rectify the situation to the applause and wonderment of all...

Me? No, I wouldn't get physically involved, but I would get on my trusty cellular phone and call and let dispatch know that their officer appeared to be struggling.

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

If an officer is in this situation I would bet another officer is on the way as back up.

No I would not. In most cases officers would rather citizens just stay out of the way

Devon Kissinger 10 years ago

Damn right I would, I don't go around looking for trouble, but who wouldn't help.

jonas 10 years ago

Yes, good! I'm sure the police are usually just waiting for some yahoo to break out their karate and jump in to help.

justsomewench 10 years ago

why does it matter what the OTS responders' dayjobs are?

Age, tax-bracket, political party, education, weight, criminal record, number of failed marriages, astrological sign, blood-alcohol, those those would be relevent.

smackdaddy30 10 years ago

Ref. the Franklin County Case............if you read it....the officer was not getting stupid with a traffic violator.........the subject in question had a warrant and refused to come peacefully with the officer. As far as jumping to help a struggling bet I would help.

gyroduck 10 years ago

I would be afraid to get arrested for helping. A cop being humble and admitting they need help would be an extreamly rare occurance. If they looked to be getting hurt I would probally help them anyway, a night or two in jail isn't the end of the world.

Topside 10 years ago

HELL NO!!! If the perp had injuries of some type he/she'd wind up suing for damages and win. I don't want to get in the middle of that, plus you never know where or when a gun might go off.

eskimopieinKS 10 years ago

I'd help a cop, comes from my dad being in law enforcement for 25 years plus

but I might cheer for the bad guy first

southerngirl 10 years ago

Posted by blue73harley (anonymous) on August 22, 2006 at 6:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It disgusts me how uninvolved and uncaring people can be. I saw a truck roll-over in the median near K10 and K7 last week. Traffic continued on in both directions with no one stopping. It was surreal. I guess everyone seems to think cell phones are the answer for every situation.

Harley, I would and have stopped at accident sites, but at 5ft 3in, 120 lbs, I doubt I would be any help with an officer struggling with someone so in that case, I would just call for assistance.

Linda Endicott 10 years ago

Is this even legal??

I don't think I would. I'd probably just end up making the situation worse, anyway.

I've never talked to an officer who didn't prefer that the public just stay out of it. And if something went wrong, you could be held legally liable. I doubt if there's anything like "implied consent" for an officer in trouble. Like one of the respondents said, I'm not trained to know what to do in a situation like that, and if you don't know what to do, you'll probably just make it worse.

acg 10 years ago

It would depend on the situation. Most of the time they would prefer us to stay out of their way. They have enough to worry about trying to subdue a suspect without having to worry about a civilian getting hurt in the ruckus.

Universe 10 years ago

Nope, I wouldn't help.. Last I heard the police carried guns. Or have the leftists taken that away from them also?

sgtwolverine 10 years ago

I would assist a 16-year-old who was struggling with a motor vehicle.

sunflower_sue 10 years ago

RI, I love that commercial! Remember "shrink to fits?" Gosh, I loved those!

Blue, just curious...did you stop? You didn't say so.

craigers 10 years ago

I like how some posters think they would just stand back and try to get all the facts about the scuffle before getting involved. No, I think I will just call somebody and let the cop get shot. Good thinking. You bet I would be there in a heartbeat. If a cop needs help, I am ready. I always loved helping security take down a perp when I worked in retail. It was great.

sunflower_sue 10 years ago

Craigers, I've posted it before but my sis once tackled some dude shoplifter. Classic! Maybe you and she could tag-team.

craigers 10 years ago

s_s, that would be awesome. I always wanted to surprise one of them running out of the store with a close-line. That would be awesome.

Janet Lowther 10 years ago

It depends on the cop: If it is one of the skinhead street nazis, I'd run, not walk away. Otherwise, I't be inclined to help.

AlexFenton 10 years ago

I would immediately form a focus group followed by a quick committee meeting or petition drive. Then I'd network with neighborhood associations and the chamber of commerce to pass an ordinance to require people to totally eliminate this problem. And if that didn't work, maybe a prayer vigil.

sgtwolverine 10 years ago

R_I, now you're turning into scandalous_sue. No, see, it would be the 16-year-old struggling with the motor vehicle.

Use that how you will...

rodneyking 10 years ago

I've always tried to cooperate.

I like what Barry said. Say, isn't he a great musician?

james bush 10 years ago

Yes, absolutely if I thought I could help and not add to the officer's predicament/problem.

Sakuraba 10 years ago

AlexFenton, that is a hilarious response to most any hypothetical question.

my2cents 10 years ago

Three Kanas Statues that cover use of force.

21-3211. Use of force in defense of a person.

A person is justified in the use of force against an aggressor when and to the extent it appears to him and he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or ANOTHER against such aggressor's imminent use of unlawful force.

21-3215. Law enforcement officer's use of force in making arrest.

(1) A law enforcement officer, or any person whom such officer has summoned or directed to assist in making a lawful arrest, need not retreat or desist from efforts to make a lawful arrest because of resistance or threatened resistance to the arrest. Such officer is justified in the use of any force which such officer reasonably believes to be necessary to effect the arrest and of any force which such officer reasonably believes to be necessary to defend the officer's self or another from bodily harm while making the arrest. However, such officer is justified in using force likely to cause death or great bodily harm only when such officer reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to such officer or another person, or when such officer reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape and such officer has probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving great bodily harm or is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon, or otherwise indicates that such person will endanger human life or inflict great bodily harm unless arrested without delay.

21-3216. Private person's use of force in making arrest.

(1) A private person who makes, or assists another private person in making a lawful arrest is justified in the use of any force which he would be justified in using if he were summoned or directed by a law enforcement officer to make such arrest, except that he is justified in the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm only when he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another.

  (2)   A private person who is summoned or directed by a law enforcement officer to assist in making an arrest which is unlawful, is justified in the use of any force which he would be justified in using if the arrest were lawful.

For all those that think they would be liable there are many laws that protect them

In the FR. CO. Case, Peterson saw the suspect wrestling and punching the Deputy. Peterson was covered by law, because he was trying to stop the unlawful attack.

adky 10 years ago

I'm with jrlii. Usually LPD are just abusing people and I will have no part in that.

sgtwolverine 10 years ago

Do we need to implement post ratings? Like "This post rated S_S for salacious" or "This post rated R_I for ribald"?

jayhawks71 10 years ago

Get involved and you have just invited yourself the title of "defendant" in a civil lawsuit. Sad but true, regardless of what the law claims as protection. You might "get off" but you will certainly spend time getting an attorney and taking a few days off of work. Sorry, I am not going to help an officer enforce a bad law, and given that I would have no idea why the person was being arrested (e.g., caught with a joint) I say sayonara.

Gotta love the law though. A struggle with someone an officer is try to arrest is an emotional event; the ability to make rational decisions is the first thing to suffer during high emotion and stress, yet, the officer is endowed with the power to use what force is deemed "reasonable." If an officer lets the thought cross his mind that the perpetrator has any possiblity of getting the officer's gun, then it seems reasonable to use ANY amount of force to protect one's own life. Opens the door to all of the incidents we are exposed to in the media where people are beaten by police.

The person who helps, has to be reasonable as well. So, while the law may seemingly protect the helper, what level of force would a jury/judge deem to be "reasonable?"

granny 10 years ago

"It's not my job" - good one Amanda - that is what is wrong with the world today. I could say more but I will keep my fingers shut.

gphawk89 10 years ago

Depends on the situation.

If the suspect is armed with a gun and I'm not, no way.

There's always the chance that the officer will be not quite in the right state of mind due to the struggle, think I'm another bad guy, and do something irrational like shoot me.

Actually I did intervene once. Young guy sprinting through a parking lot right towards me, two cops with guns drawn a ways behind chasing him and yelling "freeze". At the last second I stepped into his path and blindsided him - almost put him out cold. Cops caught up and just said "thanks" and I walked off. Probably shouldn't have done it, but just made a split-second decision to get involved. And it was kinda fun to lay someone out on the pavement and not get in trouble for it.

BorderRat 10 years ago

I have and I'd do it again if need be.

as_I_live_and_breathe 10 years ago

Posted by blue73harley (anonymous) on August 22, 2006 at 6:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, I would try to help.

It disgusts me how uninvolved and uncaring people can be. I saw a truck roll-over in the median near K10 and K7 last week. Traffic continued on in both directions with no one stopping. It was surreal. I guess everyone seems to think cell phones are the answer for every situation.

In this case, Harley cell phones are a great answer.
Is it safe to stop on the highway?
Or could that cause even more accidents?
As you said, before you could SAFELY stop, emergency vehicle were already there. Thanks probably to one or more of those people that continued on safely to their destination.

Fatty_McButterpants 10 years ago

Well...after reading all of your responses, it makes me glad that I'm not risking my life for you people anymore.

Ceallach 10 years ago

Whew! Some of y'all are COLD!! I thought this was a totally stupid question . . . and then I saw the answers.

If I could help, I would. Calling for assistance might be the most helpful thing I could do for the officer. If I had a firearm in the car I would be very hesitant to use it.

If you could, why wouldn't you help a law enforcement officer?

jayhawks71 10 years ago

Ceallach, because they are empowered with using force on people who have often committed "crimes" in which they (the "criminal) have not used force on other people. Sorry, a guy caught with some pot, a kid caught with cigarettes or alcohol (who runs) should not have force used on them. Police do one thing regarding law enFORCEment; use force.

Given that I cannot know if a police officer is grappling with a non-violent offender (who is protecting himself from force) I cannot find it in me to use force on that person. I believe that a person who has been non-violent until force is directly exerted on him, has every right to fight against the force being used, regardless of the suit the force is wearing. Now, that might be dangerous, because that suit has a gun, but you make your own decisions.

That said. No way am I in on it.

Charles L Bloss Jr 10 years ago

I absolutely would assist any law enforcement officer struggling to make an arrest. It is every citizen's duty to help, and if the officer directs the citizen to assist and they do not, they can be arrested. It is against the law to fail to assist when directed to do so, however it should not come to that. Those peace officers are putting their lives on the line for all of us. How would you like it the next time you need assistance and the police said we don't want to help you, or we don't want to get involved? Thank you, Lynn

Charles L Bloss Jr 10 years ago

Oh by the way, thank you my2cents for explaining the law and a citizen's duties. I could say the same thing McButterpants, but I won't. I enjoyed all 25 years of it. Thank you, Lynn

Charles L Bloss Jr 10 years ago

P.S. Read "deliveryman helps thwart attack on officer" in this issue of the LJW. I'm done, lol. Thank you, Lynn

mleichenberger 10 years ago

To all the people who wouldn't jump in an help or who are SOOO concerned about a freakin law suit.....

Do you realize what these officers go through EVERY FREAKIN DAY for you people!?!?!?!? They put their lives on the line for you every day... You have to realize that they are people too. They all have families that they go home to every night. What if you're the one person that kept them from going home to their family that night? How would that make you feel? To know that because you were too worried about some law suit (that may not even happen), an officer lost his life in the line of duty serving you... the public.... Yet you all don't hesitate to call if you're child has run away or if something was stolen from you... You all seem to only want to help if you are getting something out of it... That's what's wrong with this world today....

Heck yes!!! I would help!!!

justsomewench 10 years ago

forgive me for this, but...

s_s and r_i are incredibly tiresome with the knock-knock joke caliber attempts at exhibitionism. perhaps, i simply don't understand the daily compulsion to play the same slapstick version of cyberfootsie in front of a good number of people who very likely don't care and, if so, i truly apologize for having the intense desire not to be bored.

(there, i said it.)

sunflower_sue 10 years ago

posted by justsomewench on Aug 11th at 5:21pm:

"you know, if it weren't for masturbation, some of us would never GET to sleep at night! (not speaking personally, of course cough)"

exhibitionism? enough said!

justsomewench 10 years ago

good god, my misnomer makes your flirting intellectual or even interesting? uh, yeah.

justsomewench 10 years ago

let's tally, just for fun.

one quip in comparison to the relentless saga of mediocre flirtations, does not an exhibitionist make.

you two sincerely have a desire to be noticed for your antics. i'm curious...why? are you trying to prove you are capable of lust? does it require a daily reminder for the rest of us? it is true, i may be the only one that isn't on the edge of my seat on a daily basis to make sure your hormones are in working order. again, if so, forgive me.

moralebooster 10 years ago

I say spray them both down with a hose or pepperspray and call 911

justsomewench 10 years ago

if it continues, jim, make mine a double. please.

Ceallach 10 years ago

Now wench, some of us enjoy living vicariously through other posters ;) I don't watch Desperate Housewives but I do enjoy the quips on the OTS board. It's not like there aren't plenty of other posts to read. . . . . no need to get upset. . . just don't read them. The word "flirting" is more than a little bit strong, just because people are joking around with each other. I still remember flirting, and it was way more fun that the good natured quips exchanged by posters (especially when they are personally acquainted).

RI, I would never accuse you of being cold -- kool maybe (oh no, is that flirting?) I don't want to be flirting, the last thing I need is yet another man following me around :):)

jayhawk71: I know there are occasions when officers abuse their authority, and those are the ones we hear the most about. There are and were several law enforcement officers in my family and I do not believe that the abusers are the majority. I'm sorry if that has not been your experience. For their victims I can see that it would be extremely difficult to be able to trust them again. However, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when possible, even cops.

justsomewench 10 years ago

ceal, that's a lot of posts to skip over daily. frankly, i'm embarassed for them. i get the same "look at me, ma, no hands!" business from my children. i really don't need a daily report on what's happening in their britches. the level of excitement is akin to reading the farmer's almanac. but maybe i just have a low threshhold for boredom. or don't share the same craving for attention.

really, this is requiring so much more clarification than one would think. or hope.

jim, where's my drink?

sunflower_sue 10 years ago

Wench, just had the hubby read all the daily posts. He thinks you're ready for that drink now. Just to clarify for you, I personally know RI so it's normal banter for us. Sorry you feel left out. I'll try to "tone it down" for you. If you really want to read some steamy stuff I suggest reading one of his wife's books. She has real tallent! I'll even point you to the good chapters. Just skip over my posts. It won't offend me. Hope you can "GET to sleep tonight." ;)

Ceal, you better be careful throwing around those "cool" brazen hussy, you! ;o)

justsomewench 10 years ago

left out? surely your comprehension is a wee bit sharper than that.

see, the thing is: i don't suffer the compulsion to publicly expose myself on a daily basis to feel redeemed. if that's what it takes to keep your motor goin', knock yourself out, but...ever hear of e-mail? if this is a friend, god forbid, a raucous phone call or winks over coffee or some heavy petting on the corner of 9th & Mass (if you really do require all the witnesses you seem to cravy every day)?

again, you've only served the purpose of drawing as much attention to addressing your online escapades as you possible can with your defense. if my opinion mattered not and you were confident in your display of maturity, i would think you'd dismiss my post altogether and go about your day. oh, but you wouldn't get to talk about yourself that way, that's right.

call my opinion an anomoly if you wish, but i kinda doubt it.

if it's any consolation, your behavior is slightly interesting, if only in a pathological way. your defensiveness just adds to the mix. you might want to get that checked out.

are you done or do we need to talk about you some more?

Terry Jacobsen 10 years ago

I'd help out in a second. My brother in law is a policeman here in Lawrence, and I have several friends who are law enforcement officers. I love all of them, and I appreciate the work they do that makes Lawrence a safe and orderly place to live.

jayhawks71 10 years ago

Cell, I never said that police are bad people. In fact, they are often simply enforcing the bad laws that bureaucrats think will protect us from harming ourselves. I think I have a more loose definition of what being a 'bad cop' entails than you do. Actually, I have very little direct experience with police. The issue is the use of force against someone who has not used force against another person. Defending yourself against apprehension is not the use of force. Is a killer, rapist, or child abuser a worthy recipient of force; absolutely as he has used force on another. Is a kid who bought some dope worthy of being forced to submit to law enforcement, I don't think so. At some point bad laws need to meet resistance or bureaucrats see people acquiesce and assume that they can take more liberty from the People.

The state can claim whatever they want about how it is "unlawful" not to help a police officer; the police officer has no authority to demand that I assist. A state law that criminalizes non-participation in the apprehension of an arrestee violates the 13th amendment- the state forcing me to do the duty of law enforcement against my will is involuntary servitude.

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Again, I am not going to help one to pin a kid down, twist his arm, put a boot to his neck, and press his face to the concrete because he had a joint on his person. If someone is so dangerous as to be worthy of using force against (having used force against another person), then what kind of common sense do I have to cast aside to join in. That said, I have justified to myself why I would not participate. Either they don't deserve it, or if they do, I choose not to risk life and limb to participate.

killjoy 10 years ago

I wonder how Mel Gibson would answer this question?

Ceallach 10 years ago

Well, looks like we got ourselves a cat fight -- nothing boring about that :)

jayhawk71: Points well taken. It's hard for me to say that I will or will not do something at any given time, some think that is hedging, I don't. My hope is that I would do what is reasonable for the situation.

Now, on to the next question, it should be good, regarding state intervention in children's weight

Linda Endicott 10 years ago

You know, law enforcement people are trained on how to handle situations like this, and methods to use and NOT use in given situations. I'm not. I could easily make things worse by doing something that wouldn't be approved or appreciated by law enforcement.

Somebody mentioned the dangers that officers deal with in their jobs. Yes, they face dangers every day, but it IS their job. They get paid quite well for facing those dangers. And they don't have to be in law enforcement.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.