Saturday, November 7, 2009

Police Shooting Update and Some Preparedness Lessons

A few days back I reported on a recent shooting in our city that targeted police officers. Yesterday, a suspect in the shooting was found by the police which led to another shootout. Here's some take away lessons from these incidents:
  • First, the officers were sitting in their patrol car minding their own business when the shooter pulled up next to the car and started firing, wounding one officer and killing the other. Lesson: any time you are sitting in your vehicle paying attention to what you are doing (reading a book while waiting for the spouse, talking on your cell phone, finishing up work before you get to a meeting) you can be a target. People should be able to feel secure in their own vehicles but that isn't always the case. Car-jackers, robbers, rapists, and yes, random shooters, will take advantage of people being distracted to commit a crime which usually involves the victim being in or around their car, often involves a weapon or violence, and can lead to injury or death. Always be hyper alert when in your car, whether you are driving, sitting at a stop light, parked in a parking lot, or in the bank/fast food drive thru.
  • When the suspect was cornered, he drew his weapon. Either he had a death wish or he flunked math--one with a firearm against literally dozens with firearms is pretty poor odds. Lesson: people may react irrationally when cornered or in a desperate situation. If someone pulls a gun on you, shoot first and ask questions later. In the split second it will take you to analyze their motives and formulate some possible outcomes, you could be dead. Ditto, if you pull a firearm on someone; you need to have a life or death reason to do so. Most people who are drawn on, even if you just meant to threaten them with your firearm, will take it as a threat to their life and react accordingly.
  • Immediately after the suspect was taken into custody, his entire apartment building was evacuated. Lesson learned: have your BOB/Go Bag ready to grab at a moment's notice. If this had happened at your home, where officers knocked on your door and said you must leave now, no time to grab a change of clothes or anything else, and that you will be away from home for an indeterminate amount of time, would you be prepared? Note also that evacuees were sheltered on a city bus; area roads were blocked with so many responders that there was no way for the people to even drive themselves away from the scene.
  • While one apartment building was evacuated, the other buildings in the complex were put on lock down. No one was allowed to come or go from their apartments and all were told to remain inside their homes until further notice. Lesson learned: do you have a lock down procedure for your home? While it may not be as complex as the procedure for locking down a huge commercial building, knowing what to do in these situations is something that needs forethought and practice. A communications plan is also in order. What if your kids or spouse were expected home within the hour however no one was being allowed in or out of the complex? At times like these, being able to contact family members, having a secondary plan and a safe place to wait out the crisis, and a way to receive ongoing communications about the situation would be in order.
  • The police were able to break this case due to a tip from a citizen. Lesson learned: pay attention to your surroundings. The neighbors noticed that a car which never had a cover on it suddenly had a cover on it. That may be a tip. Others saw the vehicle description on the news and thought it looked an awful lot like the neighbor's car. Part of being prepared for anything is being aware of everything. If something seems off or unusual or strange, find out why. Or at least make a mental note of it for further follow-up if needed.
  • Apparently the suspect's apartment contained firearms (not a major concern to me), ammo (ditto), and either IEDs or the makings of IEDs (concerning). Lesson learned: you never know what your neighbors keep in their home and, unfortunately, some of the things they may be keeping could kill you or flatten your neighborhood. I tend to choose where I live rather strategically. For many reasons I choose not to live in an apartment building, one reason being that I have no control what my neighbors do and cooking meth, making bombs, and other unsavory things could have a very detrimental affect on me and my family. If possible, choose where you live with care.

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