When three suspects assaulted an off-duty LAPD officer at his Gardena, Calif., home, a police spokesperson said it was the first time he'd heard of an officer being a victim of a home invasion robbery. While that may be the case, the crime was not without precedent.

One Des Moines (Ill.) police officer found himself and his family held captive with duct tape while a trio of teenagers ransacked his home. Fortunately, neither the officer nor his wife or children were injured.

Violent Confrontations

But not all officers and their families are so fortunate. An on-duty Idaho County Sheriff's deputy happened to be in his home when a suspect forced his way into the residence. The deputy was able to shoot the rude SOB in the chest and chin, effectively ending the threat, but not before being shot himself.

Not that cops wouldn't seem to be the most likely victims of home invasions. Outside of the most aspiring Darwin Award candidates, I would think that most suspects would want to avoid such confrontations. But they do happen, sometimes with law enforcement officers as the apparent intended victims.

Such was the case when four suspects broke into a border patrol agent's home in Tucson, Ariz. The off-duty agent was able to retrieve a handgun and engage the suspects, successfully shooting Christian Gomez. The 20-year-old Gomez sustained fatal injuries and his body was found five hours later in the desert where his homies had unceremoniously dumped him.

Unfortunately, the officer doesn't always get the upper hand.

New Orleans PD Sgt. Thelonious Dukes was working on his motorcycle just before 3 a.m. when he was surprised by two gunmen. They marched him inside his home, awoke his wife, and forced the two of them to kneel on the floor of the bathroom. When the suspects demanded money, jewelry, and guns, and threatened Dukes' wife, the detective pulled his gun and a shootout ensued. Dukes was wounded in his lower torso and leg and later died of his injuries. Chris Dillon, 18, and Anthony Skidmore, 19, were subsequently booked for Sgt. Dukes' murder.

Just as you should consider threat scenarios while going about your off-duty business, so should you develop plans first to minimize the likelihood of a home invasion, then the probable course of action should such an incident occur.

Empower Children

A prime consideration is your children. Without scaring them with alarmist rhetoric such as might be found, say, in this article, merely discuss escape options, particularly in scenarios where they have the benefit of not being detected by intruders. Make sure they know multiple exit points from the house and safe havens they can run to.

Empower them. My dad was not a cop; he was a neurotic commercial artist. But he did have firearms and taught me from an early age how to respect them and how to use them. Such education can even help kids become lifesaving agents, not only on their own behalf but possibly yours, as well.

Patricia Harrington would be a great poster child of what every officer's child should be capable of accomplishing in the event of a home invasion robbery, circumstances permitting. Two illegal aliens, Ralphel Resindez, 23, and Enrico Garza, 26, attempted a home invasion robbery of the Harrington home while the eleven-year-old's father was momentarily away.

Patricia, a clay shooting champion since the age of nine, was in her upstairs room when the two men broke through the front door of the house. Running quickly to her father's room, Patricia grabbed her father's 12-gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun and shot Resindez point blank in the abdomen and genitals as he reached the top of the stairs. His partner in crime took a blast to the left shoulder before staggering into the street.

Patricia's accuracy saved taxpayers the burden of paying for the prosecution of the two men for the murder of an earlier home invasion robbery victim. That victim, 50-year-old David Burien, had died from stab wounds to the chest. Now, I'm not advocating the wholesale slaughter of burglars and robbers. I'm merely reminding you that dead men don't tell tales and they're not worth a damn at filing lawsuits, either.

Man's Best Friend and Other Deterrents

Beyond educating family members on the use of firearms and having them safely accessible, you may want to consider having man's best friend on speed dial. I'm partial to German Shepherds. They may lack the killer aggressiveness of pitbulls, but they are protective and tend to be much more kid friendly. Mine has the collateral benefit of keeping unwanted solicitors at bay. True, it's cut my social network to virtually nil. But, hey, it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Now, a man's home may be his castle, but you know how anal retentive city government can be when it comes to the prospect of your building your own a moat or draw gate. So if your local zoning codes aren't paranoid-friendly, you can at least make sure that you have the kind of doors favored by mid-level dope dealers with locking exterior and interior doors. Install wide-angle peepholes that allow you to keep an eye on what's going on outside your door while minimizing an outsider's ability to see inside. Home security alarm systems won't keep them from getting in, but may encourage them to get the hell out in a hurry.

You might even consider stealing a page from dirtbags' home video surveillance systems to identify possible hostiles before they get to your threshold. You need only look to those same dealers for ideas as to where to surreptitiously hide monitoring equipment, although bird feeders or planters are known to be popular.

Communicate with Local PD

Keep telephones accessible with pre-set emergency numbers. As you well know, even if all you can do is connect to 911 before tossing the phone under a pillow, the open line will generally be enough to get your fellow cops rolling, especially if you've notified the local PD and had your address entered into their dispatch database as belonging to a cop with firearms at the location.

Finally, be on friendly terms with that law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over your place of residence. You want to make sure that they do a thorough job in their investigation to minimize the likelihood of your becoming unnecessarily civilly or criminally liable.

As I write these words, I'm thinking of six-year-old Cole Puffinburger, kidnapped from his Las Vegas home only yesterday during a home invasion robbery. It reminds me how I used to view cops who had guns accessible in every room of the house.

I used to think they were overly paranoid.

Now, I wonder if they were just ahead of the curve.

Author

Dean Scoville
Dean Scoville

Associate Editor

Former associate editor of Police Magazine and a retired patrol supervisor and investigator with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Dean Scoville has received multiple awards for government service.

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Former associate editor of Police Magazine and a retired patrol supervisor and investigator with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Dean Scoville has received multiple awards for government service.

View Bio
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