ArticlesOp-Eds 6/03/24

Rob Chadwick: As Police Response Times Grow, People Are Taking Defense Into Their Own Hands

By: Rob Chadwick | Chicago Tribune | June 3, 2024

“We have no units to send you.”

Imagine hearing these words on the phone after calling 911 in an emergency. Sadly, this is becoming the new reality in cities across America today. Regardless of political party affiliation, we all seek help from law enforcement in an emergency. Yet gone are the days when police and first responders are at our doorstep immediately after an emergency arises.

Typically, it takes officers five to 10 minutes to respond to an emergency. However, in the last five years alone, law enforcement response times have doubled. That statistic is especially alarming, considering that the average violent attack is over within less than 10 seconds. 

Longer-than-usual response times are becoming all too commonplace. Just recently in Chicago, a mother who called for help was forced to scare off two home invaders by herself. She warned her attackers that she was calling authorities, and thankfully, her attackers fled the scene. She then waited four hours for Chicago police to arrive, calling 911 several times. The emergency dispatcher told her that there were no units available to send to her location.

This and many other instances of extended response times are no fault of the police. Of course, law enforcement cannot be everywhere at all times, and truth be told, we would not want to live in a society where that were the case. Jurisdictions today are simply overwhelmed and understaffed, and many officers do not want to wear the badge that those before did. A toxic political culture, coupled with a lack of support, has also led to a wave of early retirements. Moreover, politicians who have called for “defunding” the police for the past several years are finally seeing the effects of this misguided rallying cry.

We are now faced with an even greater responsibility of protecting ourselves and our loved ones until first responders can help. We know that even under the most fortunate of circumstances, it can take more than mere minutes for help to arrive. That’s why many Americans are taking their safety into their own hands by purchasing a firearm to protect themselves and their families. Organizations such as the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) have seen record demand for education and training resources, empowering individuals to be proactive in self-defense. This certainly includes acting decisively to stop attackers in the absence of law enforcement during an emergency. 

While no law-abiding citizen ever wants to be involved in a life-threatening situation, we have seen numerous examples in Chicago over the past several years in which concealed carry license holders defended themselves from violent robberies — long before law enforcement could intervene. There are now roughly 450,000 CCL holders in Illinois alone, and that number continues to grow.

It’s important to remember that Illinois is a “castle doctrine” state, meaning law-abiding citizens who are in their home are under no legal duty to retreat if threatened, and using deadly force is justified if it is reasonable to believe that it is necessary to protect yourself or another against imminent death or great bodily harm. Clearly, it is absolutely critical for anyone who assumes the responsibility of self-protection to be trained and educated in the use of their firearm. In a best-case scenario, there isn’t any shooting at all because you have been trained to spot developing danger and avoid it altogether. 

This doesn’t have to be frightening. In fact, it should be empowering. With knowledge and power, coupled with the right resources to protect oneself and loved ones, we can feel secure in knowing we can confront danger with decisive action until the police arrive — just like the mother in Chicago.

Read the full article from the Chicago Tribune here.