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Cover Story

Station Attacks

Criminals who hate cops know that you tend to let your guard down when you’re on your home turf.

May 16, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

Staying on Your Toes

All the architectural safeguards in the world can be for naught if red flags are ignored, notes Alwes.

"Unfortunately, look at how many people are in condition white," Alwes explains. "In some places, they'll even take off their guns to prevent scuffing furniture or tearing up the chairs. That's crazy. It always comes back to mindset."

Brian Muller of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Emergency Operations Bureau echoes Alwes' concerns, particularly as they relate to officers coming onto and off of shifts.

"Just because you punched out on the clock doesn't mean kings x (time out)," Muller notes. "Your day's not over until you're secured and locked in your house. When you're walking in the parking lot and you don't have all your gear on, you're a little more vulnerable. Cops have a tendency to let their minds shut down a certain degree. But you're not off the playing field, so to speak. Just preplan and think about it."

Thinking Outside the Box

In 2005, a full year before he opened fire at the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department, killing Officer Michael Garbarino and Det. Vicky Armel, Michael William Kennedy told friends that he planned to shoot up a police station.

But whatever value such intelligence might have afforded was squandered: No one thought to communicate it to authorities until after the tragedy.

Perhaps a series of public service announcements could speak directly to recipients of such information, educating viewers on the import of taking such threats to heart and encouraging the alerting of authorities of prospective attacks on law enforcement, workplaces, public schools, and universities. Friends, families, and relatives of those identified as having made such threats should be encouraged to exhibit vigilance with their firearms, and edified of any prospective liability that they might incur otherwise.

Officers also have to remain vigilant for potential red flags and act on them. This may include conversations initiated by people asking them what they would do if they suddenly came under violent attack. "Unfortunately, we tend to do better looking back on situations in identifying markers or red flags than we do in the moment," says UM-St. Louis' Klinger who served as an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.

"Police intelligence has to be up to speed in terms of what threats are out there," Klinger adds. "When someone says, 'I'm going to kill you,' that needs to be logged and documented. Some agencies have hazardous persons files or databases with people who might fight officers that respond to their residences or businesses. You might want to extend this notion to keeping track of those who might be inclined to go out of their way to take on the police with gunfire."

Today, threats may be communicated through various media and social networks such as Facebook and online video sites like YouTube. Before its removal, the Facebook page of McKinney, Texas, gunman Patrick Sharp showed a man holding a number of firearms and a caption that read, "I love guns more than toothpaste." A caption accompanying the image of a shot-up steel plate read: "What if that was your face?"

Never Say Die

Should officers find themselves under attack, they have to have the presence of mind to successfully fend off such attacks by exploiting cover, taking the fight to the suspect, and exhausting every possible means to prevail.

CONTINUED: Station Attacks «   Page 3 of 4   »

Tags: Duty Dangers, Station Attacks, Assaults on Officers, Detroit PD, Hemet (Calif.) PD


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Morning Eagle @ 5/17/2011 1:46 AM

Here is another very timely and informative article from Dean. This is a vulnerability that should not be ignored or put on the planning back burner for "someday." Given the technologies available today for enhancing facility and personnel security using unobtrusive devices and practices, (to placate those who object to "creating a fortress atmosphere) there is no valid reason for failure to implement more stringent protective measures as quickly as budgets will permit. But even without immediate equipment or structural upgrades there are many things that could be done to correct the tendencies to go into condition white just because one is in the office surroundings. The article alludes to the growing terorrist threat from groups south of the border. We already know Hezbollah and other middle east organizations are working with the drug/human smugglers in Mexico and other countries and are getting their agents into our country mixed in with the flood of more benign invaders. Ignore or dismiss this potential source of attack at your peril. It is very real and high on their priority list will be disrupting law enforcement and other EMS responders. They may be evil but they are not stupid.

It is a no-brainer that communications/dispatch centers and personnel (mostly unarmed) must be obscured and protected from the view and hearing of the public. If impracticle to move to an inner part of the facility, at the very least install smoked or one-way-view bullet proof glass. Costly? Perhaps, but not as costly as losing your commo in an emergency would be.

Take it from an old timer, always be armed and mentally ready because you just never know, not even when you are in the office.

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