Duty to Act: Legal Obligations vs. Community Expectations

There can be a conflict between the legal obligation to respond and the community’s expectation of response


By Anthony Mangeri
American Military University

Over the years, there have been several stories of public safety personnel, on and off duty, failing to meet the response expectations of their community. A recent incident in the District of Columbia involving the death of a man who collapsed near a fire station and not receive immediate aid, made it even more unclear if emergency responders have a legal duty to act versus an expectation by the community to aid those who seek help.

The term Duty to Act is a legal term that defines an individual or organization’s legal requirement to take action to prevent harm to a person or the community as a whole.

Events like the D.C. incident stirs debate about who has a legal duty to act and what that obligation actually means. More importantly, there can be a conflict between the legal obligation to respond and the community’s expectation of response.

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About the author

In Public Safety is an American Military University (AMU) sponsored blog that features analysis and commentary on issues relating to law enforcement, emergency management, fire services and national intelligence. This blog features in-depth discussions authored by leading experts with decades of experience in their field. To stay updated on blog posts and other news relevant to these sectors, please follow us on Facebook by “liking” AMU & APUS Public Safety Programs. You can also follow us on our sector-specific Twitter accounts: @AMUPoliceEd, @AMUFireEd, @AMUDisasterEd, @AMUIntelStudies.

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  4. Legal

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