Monday, March 2, 2015

Security Smarts

Here is a security scenario for you.
You watched the evening news before bed and heard a report about police attempting to locate a wanted murder suspect. The suspect was reportedly last seen in the area of your apartment complex. Making sure all your doors were locked and that you had a handgun nearby, you go to sleep.
At 1:30am you hear a loud banging at your door. You look out the window but can’t see anyone. What would you do?
This actually happened in Lake County Florida. Unfortunately Andrew Scott opened his door.
“It was in the 1:30 a.m. when deputies knocked on the 26-year-old Scott’s door, not identifying themselves as law enforcement officers. Scott answered the door holding a gun, and deputies opened fire.
“When we knocked on the door, the door opened and the occupant of that apartment was pointing a gun at deputies and that’s when we opened fire and killed him,” Lt. John Herrell told WESH.”
I realize it’s difficult to really judge the situation without being there. But first for my police friends:

Mistakes were made by both Mr. Scott and the police. Those combined errors placed Mr. Scott in a position where the police had no other options but to shoot. It was a tragedy that could have been prevented.
First, for my police officer friends….
How are citizens supposed to determine who you are if you don’t identify yourself? I realize you want to catch this murder suspect, all of us want you to catch him too! But don’t expect us to answer our door unarmed especially with a nut on the loose. If you don’t want people pointing guns at you, don’t act like a criminal! Think about how it looks from the other side. My guess is that these cops were in plain clothes and it was reported that they didn’t identify themselves. They were probably trying to use cover and concealment by hiding behind trees or bushes in front of the apartment.
What do you think that looks like to the homeowner who knows he has a murder suspect hiding from police in his neighborhood? A loud knock on the door in the middle of the night. He opens it up and sees one or more men hiding in the bushes. While Mr. Scott’s actions may not have been textbook perfect, they were reasonable given the circumstances. If I saw what he did, I’d likely point my gun as well.
I understand this type of situation. I’ve seen similar ones before. You want to catch the murder suspect. You also don’t want to get shot. I get it. But there are safer ways to do business.
If I’m knocking on someone’s door in the middle of the night, I want to be clearly identifiable as a police officer. Why not have a uniformed officer make the approach? Announce that you are the police. By doing this, you certainly take the chance that the bad guy flees or doesn’t open the door. Fleeing shouldn’t be a problem. You should have all the exits covered before you make the announcement.
If you think the criminal is inside and not answering, pull back and put some plain cars out to watch the apartment. Yes, that will take time and manpower, but it is worth it if it keeps someone from getting shot. If there is an exigency, call the fire department to respond with their thermal imaging cameras that can scan through walls for heat sources. You may be able to determine if someone is inside that way. If he is, you might be able to get a warrant or call him up on the phone and ask him to come to the door after telling him the house is surrounded. If he still doesn’t come to the door, you can make the decision then to either back off and wait him out or escalate and consider it a barricade situation.
Remember, tactics are supposed to reduce danger. The tactics these officers used placed them in MORE danger. That’s a mistake. Take a minute and think about the potential consequences of your actions before implementing your plan.
As for the unfortunate homeowner:
I fully understand the desire to protect oneself. But why open the door? Tactics are important for armed homeowners as well. Opening the door presents so many problems, even if you are armed. You could be walking right into an ambush. You may be facing more attackers than you know about. You are widening your threat field. All of these are bad.
Instead, keep your handgun ready and call the police. They will be eager to respond to reports of a suspicious knock at the door in the neighborhood where they are hunting a fugitive. Don’t put yourself in a position that worsens your chance for survival.
Armed citizens and cops should be working towards the same goal. We’re all on the same side. It would be smart for both groups to take a moment and think about how their potential actions could appear to the other and act accordingly.
In wilderness survival there is an acronym. It’s called STOP. It stands for Stay, Think. Observe, Plan. In a stressful situation or a disaster I would recommend the same thing. Unless you must act now, give yourself some time to access the situation, make a plan, and implement that plan. If you have time to think, Think! Never put yourself in a less safe situation. You’re trying to access and stop the threat, if there is one. Make sure there is one.
I feel bad for all involved in this tragic event. The police don’t want to shoot anyone, they want to protect. The home owner didn’t want to shoot anyone either, he was just trying to keep himself from being a 2nd murder victim. Neither was expecting the other.
Wise people learn from their mistakes. Superwise people learn from others mistakes. Be superwise and learn from this story. Be safe.
Semper Paratus
Check 6