Saturday, January 10, 2015

Developing a Violence Response Plan

The world can sometimes be a violent place or at least it seems so. Fairly often we will hear reports of everything from terrorist, to workplace violence, to riots, and we haven't even mentioned normal crimes. The way we present ourselves can reduce our likelihood of being involved in a violent interaction. But if something were to occur how would you react? What would you do? A little bit of self evaluation will help us determine how we are likely to react. I know that none of us really know until something like that occurred, but making a plan in advance will help us be able to react in the way we would hope.

What is Your Action Type

Your personality determines the way you respond to stimulus. Knowing a little about yourself will help you determine the way you are most likely to react.

The Spectator

Everyone knows at least  one spectator. These are the people who will go out of their way to see a wreck or will drive across the state just to look at storm damage. These people are unwilling to help others out. These are folks that are interested in their own entertainment above all else.

The Self Preservationist

I know a lot of these people. Some are risk averse, others are very fearful. These people make every decision based on the least risk. These are the people that their automatic response to nearly every situation is flight.

The Opportunist

I really hate even having to cover this, but these are most of the people who participate in riots. These folks wouldn't start anything by themselves, but they are very willing to follow along if they see some way to profit from a situation. They wouldn't break the window but they would take something they wanted if everyone else was doing it too.

The Fast Talker

Even as I write this I automatically think of salesmen and politicians. These are the people that honestly believe they can talk themselves out of any situation. They will try to negotiate their way out of a situation.

The Hider

This one can be closely related to the self preservationist. Only this person under stress tends not to think of evacuation. They however will look for somewhere to hide until an event has passed. Driven by fear almost to the point of paralysis. Not capable of full thought: just hide.

The Victim

Victims are very easy to spot. They do not think ahead. They only react to whatever is happening and they do so in a none active way. They just let whatever happen to them and if they live through it they will talk about how horrible the situation was. No action, no planning, no nothing.

The Agitator

These are the people who in and of themselves wouldn't start anything, but will quickly encourage others to start something. These people may also be opportunists, but take on a greater role in the beginning of a violent action. The first person that comes to mind for me is Al Sharpton. He doesn't participate in violence, but is very willing to "stir the pot".

The Warrior

These are the people that when something occurs, go charging in without thinking. Sometimes the results are good and sometimes not so good. These people are very brave and have a good heart, but do not think things through. They are likely to get hurt trying to help others.

The Would be Hero (aka the Buffoon) 

I am not real sure how many of these exist, but I do know a few. One person comes to mind immediately. They have a good heart and are very brave, but either lack strength or presence of mind to properly evaluate the situation. They are a warrior who just happens to be clumsy or not very bright. 

The Hero

The hero can be somewhat of an anomaly. They do not have to be overly brave or even strong. They are normally people who are stirred to action by the suffering of others. They tend to evaluate the situation and find the best way to respond. Not slow to action, but also not rushing in foolheartedly. 

I am sure there are more, but I think that is enough for us to do a quick personality evaluation. 

Corporate Training

Lots of corporations have initiated workplace violence training. What do they suggest you do? Well, you know in advance that an organization in not going to tell you to put yourself in harms way and most of the training is for prevention. The answer to almost everything is "report it to management", like management has some magical way of dealing with every situation. In a dire event call the police. While in most circumstances this may be a good idea, it is not really going to help in an active shooter situation.

One of my favorite recent quotes is from a friend of mine and fellow coworker. During the workplace violence training, the video stated "don't try to be a hero". His response was epic, "I don't have to try, it is who I am." There are a lot of people out there just like him. Some people have what I call a hero complex. A hero complex should not be confused with hero syndrome. 

Wikipedia defines hero syndrome this way.
The hero syndrome is a phenomenon affecting people who seek heroism or recognition, usually by creating a desperate situation which they can resolve. This can include unlawful acts, such as arson. The phenomenon has been noted to affect civil servants, such as firefighters, nurses, police officers, programmers, and security guards. Acts linked with the hero syndrome should not be confused with acts of malicious intent, such as revenge on the part of a suspended firefighter or an insatiable level of excitement, as was found in a federal study of more than 75 firefighter arsonists.[1] However, acts of the hero syndrome have been linked to previously failed heroism. The hero syndrome may also be a more general yearning for self-worth.[2]

A person with a hero complex does not cause a situation that they can resolve and does not necessarily seek glory. They are simply moved by action based on an inner feeling that they are supposed to respond to those who are in need. I believe that there are lots of people that if they honestly look at themselves will realize they have a hero complex.

Developing a Plan

Okay, I hope you have done some evaluation and determined your most likely action type. With this information we can begin to develop a plan. You may not fit into one category perfectly and that is fine. You probably have at least two that you could easily fit into. With this in mind we will talk about how to develop a plan for a couple of different situations.

Home Invasion

In this situation I am an unashamed warrior. I am going to do whatever in necessary to put myself between my family and any danger. It doesn't matter if you believe in firearms or not, most parents are going to rise to the challenge and defend their children. If you are going to own a firearm I really want you to think about it and not just from one side. If you keep your firearm locked in a safe time yourself and see how long it takes you to get to your firearm. Is that quick enough? Probably not. What is the average response time of your local police office? Is it quick enough? Again probably not. If a person breaks into your home, especially while you are there, you have to act under the assumption that they mean you harm. My suggestion on firearms is to train your children. Don't teach them that firearms are bad, teach them that they are to be respected. I got my first BB gun at around 5 and my dad taught me how to shoot it and to never point it at anyone. After the children are old enough to understand, no problem. I really believe that and am unwilling to discuss it. Don't worry, we are going to talk about other ways to defend your home. Please consult local laws before attempting to purchase a firearm and seek out professional training especially if you were not raised around firearms. 


By looking around and thinking in advance you can develop a plan in your mind of what you would need to do and the tools you have on hand in the event of a home invasion. Think, "If necessary, what here could I use as a weapon to protect my home?" Most people will think about kitchen knives and while they are very good weapons, you will have to make it to the kitchen to retrieve them. I do not suggest that you sleep with a butcher knife by your bed. There are other tools that you may already have or can acquire that make for better weapons. Something as simple as a ceramic planter in a dire situation can be pressed into service and used to protect your family. But if possible you do not want to have to improvise. We are going to talk about some alternative weapons that you could use in the case of a home invasion and some pros and cons of each.

Baseball Bat: A bat can be an effective weapon. It has the ability to do a lot of damage and still give you a little distance between you and the perpetrator. It can be used as an offensive and a defensive weapon. You can use your old softball bat or you can purchase one specifically for home defense like the Cold Steel Brooklyn Smasher. Drawbacks are you still have to be fairly close to the bad guy and your strength level and speed determine the effectiveness of this type of weapon. Practice helps so hit the batting cages.

Pepper Spray: I like pepper spray. Why? This is something that you can have stuck to the bottom of tables throughout your home with Velcro and the only people who will know they are there are the ones you wish to know. I like the ones with a longer range like this one SABRE RED Pepper Gel - Police Strength - Professional Size with Flip Top, Belt Holster; 18' Range. With an 18 foot range you would not have to get too close to a bad guy. Since this one is a gel it is more targetable than a spray. Another one I like is the Cold Steel Inferno 3.5 oz. (112 gram unit) Pepper Spray. It has a finer propellant so more of the agent is absorbed by skin or inhaled. Both have benefits over the other. The Cold Steel Inferno is a foam so it is also highly targetable, but only has a range of 10 feet. Still a lot better than a bat. The Inferno has been shown to have more stopping power but you do loose 8 feet of range. Drawbacks of pepper sprays are that there are some people who are not affected by them. This is a small percentage of the population, but worth noting. One major benefit is if a child were to get a hold of it and had not been educated in its use or even not to mess with it till older, it would be none lethal. Yes it would hurt and yes it would be bad, but no one would die because the parents decided not to educate their children. Yup, I said that. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children about everything.

Stun gun:A stun gun can be a highly effective non lethal defense weapon. What a stun gun does is pushes high voltage through the perpetrator's body, many times rendering them incapable of movement. This one is the one I purchased my wife VIPERTEK VTS-989 - 19,000,000 V Heavy Duty Stun Gun - Rechargeable with LED Flashlight. They are reasonably affordable and are not as restricted as firearms. You will still need to check local laws to see if you can even legally own one of these. Drawbacks are you have to get really close to the bad guy to use this and there are some people that can power through the shock, but the ones who can are mostly so geeked out on drugs that only lethal force will stop them. Still, I feel better knowing that my wife has a way to defend herself and I would not be concerned in the least if she wanted to sleep with this by her bed. If a child were to get a hold of it and were not taught to respect it (again because we as parents failed to educate our children), it would not be lethal.

A Riot

A riot is a toughy for me. There is really no way to actively defend yourself or your belongings when mob mentality takes over. I do not care who you are or how much ammo you have, this is a dangerous situation. You cannot set yourself up in a window and mow people down. These people may be acting like zombies, but they are not. This is one situation that I suggest you be a hider or a self preservationist. Lock and bar your doors and window and hunker down or get the heck out of Dodge, but have a plan in place a head of time. 

If the Ferguson riots have taught me anything it is that violence spreads, but it doesn't spread as quickly as some people want to believe. Where I am riots are not very likely to occur, but I do live within an hour drive of a major metropolitan center. If riots were to occur anywhere in our state that is where I would bet they would happen. Most of the rioters moved on foot so I would have plenty of warning that the hordes were coming. Just pay attention and have a plan. If violence made it to a particular small town that is twenty minutes away from here, we would be ready to evacuate.

Workplace Violence and an Active Shooter

I am lumping these two together for a reason. Normal workplace violence is limited to two people. One person has a problem with another and has come to kick their butt. In that scenario I would just deal with it and move on. An active shooter is a different animal all together.

Developing an active shooter plan takes time and attention. The likelihood that you will ever have to deal with this type of event is very small, but if it were to occur it can pay off to think about it in advance. Know all of the possible exits for evacuation. Know all of the good hiding places either for self preservation or for ambush. When you have time and opportunity walk your area and familiarize yourself with everything and anything that you can use as a weapon. A stapler may not be your weapon of choice, but it sure beats just your fist. A broom can be a great weapon in a pinch. Know your companies weapons policy and your state and local laws. 

Thinking about events before they occur is the heart of preparedness. Take some time and think about it so you can plan your response.

I wish you Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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