Monday, July 16, 2007

Don't give them what they want

An acquaintance of mine recently renewed his concealed carry permit, and his instructors (both veteran cops), gave a very common piece of advice "the best thing you can do in a robbery is sit tight, give them what they want, and be a good witness".

That can be good advice to a point (I don't totally agree with it, but OK); but that's where most police officers stop.They never qualify their point. Fortunately, these ones did, by following up with "unless things start to get violent, in which case the only thing you can do is try and stop the threat".

What most cops won't tell you, because they don't want you "trying to be a hero"; is that once there has been an escalation of violence in the commission of a crime, the chances of somebody not being killed or seriously injured are very poor.

If you're dealing with what cops call an ODC (ordinary decent criminal), then most likely nobody is going to get hurt; but once things tip over that edge (and it can happen at any time, with no warning), you are effectively a dead man already, unless you act to prevent that from happening.

You should NEVER comply with a rapist, or a criminal who is intent on violence; and ALL rape is violence of the worst sort.

You should NEVER comply with a criminal who is clearly mentally unstable, or grossly impaired mentally by drugs or alcohol.

It should go without saying, that you should NEVER comply with a criminal who has invaded your home, private office, or car; as these are automatically at an escalated level of violence (because they are emotionally violent and risky acts as well as physically).

In fact, if you have effective means of resisting, and are not risking others unduly in the process, I believe you should never comply with a criminal period.

Simply by committing a crime they have demonstrated that they have no respect for the rules of civilized behavior. Why should you expect them to behave otherwise once they have what they want?

That said, perhaps local laws don't allow for effective self defense, or require a "proportionality of response". Or perhaps resisting WOULD unduly risk others, or your means of resisting may not be the most effective (empty handed for example).

Perhaps then you should comply; but sometimes, even then, you must still resist; because of the likelihood that violence will escalate to homicide, or grievous harm.

There are seven “danger signs” for homicidal escalation in the commission of a crime

1. If the subjects use of violence escalates beyond a slap or punch; even if by accident
2. If the subject is extremely nervous, out of control, has violent mood swings or is frantic, etc…
3. If the subject appears to be eager, having fun, or high/tweaked/stoned/drunk
4. If the subject singles out, isolates, personalizes, or sexualizes their interaction with an individual
5. If the subject makes specific threats on a particular individuals life to force compliance from another
6. If the subject physically restrains an individual or group (rope, tape, handcuffs etc...)
7. If the subject attempts to move individuals to an area away from public view, or isolated from others

If any of these conditions is a factor, the probability that the situation can be resolved without death or serious injury is very low. If any two of them are factors, then serious violence is almost a certainty. Any three, and you are a dead man waiting to happen.

Now, a couple of hard and fast rules for dealing with violent crime:

1. Never give up your weapon in a violent crime. If someone says drop your weapon, they are going to kill you as soon as you do. If they say it while holding a gun to the head of someone else, they’re going to shoot the other person after you drop your weapon, THEN they are going to shoot you. If a subject orders you to drop your weapon, before they finish their sentence you should already have shot them in the head.

2. Never allow yourself or others to be cut out and isolated from a group, or from the main area of the location where the crime is occurring. Do NOT be led into the back room or some such; if you are, then you are almost certainly going to be killed.

3. Do not be passive in the face of escalated violence. Once violence has escalated beyond the point of simple assault, you are a dead man waiting for the bullet. Realize that and fight back in any way you can, whether you are armed or not. Remember, ANYTHING can be a weapon.

4. Do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to be physically restrained in any way

5. Do not attempt to establish any personal or humanizing connection with a subject, unless you are unarmed and in a hostage situation

6. If violence does escalate, respond immediately and decisively. Shoot to stop, use your knife to stop, use your fists, your feet, your teeth, use whatever it takes to end the threat as fast as possible. This isn’t Hollywood, this is your life, and the lives of those around you. You don’t give warning shots and you don’t tell someone to drop their weapon; you shoot them in the head or center chest (or both). If you are unarmed, you must also respond decisively and immediately, but your options are much more limited. Remember though, at this point there is already a high likelihood that you are a dead man if you DON’T do something, so sitting tight and waiting to die isn’t a great idea.

7. The rules change dramatically in a hostage situation, because the power dynamics are radically different; but if you are armed or capable of resisting, DO NOT ALLOW a hostage situation to develop.If one does, expend all possible efforts on either disabling the subject or escaping. The most likely way for you or others to die in the robbery of a public place is if a hostage situation develops.

Let me state absolutely unequivocally one more time, DO NOT COMPLY WITH VIOLENT CRIMINALS; they are likely to kill you whether you comply or not, and compliance only makes that job easier.