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Monday, July 16, 2012

Guest Post from Seattle Police Officer Johnson : Self - Defense

With the recent stories of runners being attacked I asked my friend, Seattle Police Officer Jeffrey Johnson to write a guest post on the best defense strategies.
"My name is Jeff Johnson (JJ to my old Army friends) and I am a police officer for the City of Seattle. I am typing this at the request of my friend Deb, but it is in no way intended to reflect the opinions, or policy, of the City of Seattle.

I’ve been in law enforcement for about 20 years, not including my time with the US Army Military Police, so it’s safe to say I have plenty of life experience dealing with the issues Deb wanted me to discuss on her blog site.

Personal safety, while running, jogging, or walking.

I’ve determined that being “civilized” has dampened our instincts. It also effects are common sense. You ever have that feeling that something isn’t right, but choose to ignore it? I can’t tell you the number of investigations, involving crimes against persons, where the victim would say, “I felt something was wrong, but didn’t act on it.” STOP! Do something!

Too often people feel safe and don’t think about the consequences. I know many joggers like to listen to music when they run, and sometimes they play the MP3’s from their Smart phone. Criminals are aware of the cost for a Smart phone (or similar device), and look for volunteer victims. Would you hold $500 in your hands, so others could see, while you run? You make a nice target. So here’s my second piece of advice (my first being, “STOP! Do something!”). Do not show off your “Bling.” A less expensive MP3 player plays music too.

Another issue, along the lines of listening to music, is that it distracts you from your surroundings. Situational awareness is key in personal safety. If you can’t hear someone approaching you’ve given them the advantage. In law enforcement we call it “Keeping your head on a swivel.” Look around. Of course we cops tend to be paranoid, so we’re looking for ambush sites, avenues of approach and escape, etc. I’m just saying from time to time look left and right. If something seems a little off? Look a little longer.

Cell phones. You’d think everyone age 5 and up has one, but where’s it at when you need it? I’ve talked to many joggers, reporting a crime, who tell me that it happened some time ago, but they were without a phone. You can keep the old cell phones, without even having a phone carrier, and can still use them for calling 911. Cheap, disposable phone simply for calling 911 in an emergency.

Never underestimate your opponent. The fatal flaw in those who are highly trained. Do not think you can outrun a criminal, because they have the initiative. Surprise is on their side. That’s why law enforcement is so dangerous. We’re reactive to bad actions. Limit your exposure to bad actions by choosing the environment. Avoid high crime areas, paths with too much foliage (bushes and trees close to trail), run during daylight hours, or on paths that are well lit, run with others, carry cheap cell phone, no “Bling” and last, most important, NEVER GIVE UP!

Mace? Pepper spray? Taser? All good tools, but just remember they do not solve the problem. In my professional opinion they just buy you time. It’s what you do with the few seconds afterwards that determines the outcome. I’ve experienced all 3 and can tell you I can fight through them. In fact I fight harder. So have a plan “B” when you use them. Spray the criminal and run? or spray the criminal and fight? No need to hang out and see what happens.

If you are attacked only you can make the choice of fight, or surrender? Each comes with risk and a price, but I can say this, if you choose to fight, then FIGHT! A study on officers killed in the line of duty, showed the victim officers were “Too nice.” The criminals, those who were interviewed, said they attacked the cops, because they thought they could win. Most criminals shop for a victim. They want someone who is unwilling to fight. You ever see a pride of lions take down the most healthy, strong, zebra? Show the world you’re a fighter.

Now get out there and run a marathon!"
Thank you so much JJ! As I have said before, Seattle is lucky to have you looking after them.  You be safe out there too or I'm getting on a plane......!!

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