In the landmark case of CASTLE ROCK v. GONZALES, A young mother of three sued the town of Castle RockĀ  Colorado, after officers failed to respond to her repeated reports over several hours that her estranged husband had taken their three children in violation of her restraining order against him. She was continuously told to wait by officers and see if they returned instead. She even went down to the local police station and provided a copy of her restraining order, begging them to help. The officer who took the report instead went to dinner.

Ultimately, the estranged husband murdered all three children, and later walked into the police station, opened fire, and was killed.

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In the case legal case following, the woman sought remedy claiming violation of her 14th amendment rights based on the failure of the officers to uphold their commitment.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled against her and found that even when language explicitly guarantees an action, the police are not obligated to respond or assist a citizen, and that their help is discretionary, not mandatory.


This means, according to the Supreme Court, US citizens are not actually guaranteed any help by their law enforcement officials, nor can they appropriately legally remedy a situation in which officers do not respond.