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“Get inside and lock your doors!” There is a new word creeping into our vernacular: LOCKDOWN. Some call it “shelter in place,” a more benign term, which seems more applicable during epidemics or natural disasters. Lockdown implies a more immediate threat to physical safety – a more fitting term for what happened in Watertown, MA, and the surrounding Boston area.
Terrorist in the Backyard
My wife happened to be up late, when a friend alerted her to activity on the Boston Police Scanner. She listened live to the car chase with the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombing, the gunfight, the bomb explosion, the fugitive escape through the police barricade, calls for EMT’s for the wounded police officers and information flowing in about the carjacking. And then finally the announcement: A mass murdering “armed and dangerous” terrorist was on the loose in Watertown, an American suburban neighborhood, and law enforcement ordered a lockdown. She felt grateful to be thousands of miles away from the mayhem but she knew it wasn’t over for those residents.
The next morning she had questions: If she had been home alone with the kids and an armed fugitive was escaping and evading in the neighborhood, did she need to do more than “Stay inside and lock the doors?” Here are her questions, and my responses.
First, the Bad News
I prefaced my answers with the bad news: Nothing in the house would stop a bullet. If she was in close enough proximity to hear a gunfight (which can sound like firecrackers – FYI) then she should keep herself and the children away from the window and doors, and as low as possible. If there is a basement, go to the basement. Otherwise, sleep on the floor. When the crack NCIS team finds bullets lodged in walls indoors, it’s because the bullets have been through a person or a few walls.
A bullet from a .22 LR can travel 1 -1.5 miles. Bullets from an AR can travel 2-3 miles if unimpeded. So a gunfight in a neighborhood is a very dangerous situation, whether the bullets are coming from law enforcement or criminals. (A photo, in a series of photos, circulating taken from the second story window by a witness of the gunfight between police and the 2 terror suspects, shows a bullet hole through the second story bedroom wall, calendar and computer chair.)
Photos by Andrew Kitzenberg
Q: Do I keep the lights on or lights off?
A: I go back and forth on whether to turn all the lights off at night or to have all the lights on during a lockdown. I favor having them off because I have a Night Vision device, and that would be advantageous. For most people keeping all the lights on might a) deter the fugitive from choosing your house, and b) allowing you to see so you can more effectively protect yourself if there is an intruder. Pull down all the shades and close the drapes so a predator won’t be able to determine who or how many people are in the home.
Monitor the motion detectors on all four sides of your home. Make sure you have motion lights over doors as a minimum. It is not difficult to add a beeper inside your house that alerts you when a light turns on. These motion detectors are great night time deterrents.
Q: Keep the dog in or put the dog out?
A: Big dog outside, small dog inside. Dogs can be excellent at both protection and deterrence. A large dog in the yard will likely make the potential invader go down the road to the next house. Dogs are usually better than security systems for deterrence. Security companies will not like me saying this, but the problem with most systems is that people do not turn them on because of the inconvenience. Dogs bark at someone entering the property. Almost always.
Given a house with a large dog outside barking, and an empty yard, most fugitives would avoid the property with the dog. Smaller dogs, ankle biters, are better indoors as they can provide an internal warning of a visitor outside. Burglars describe dogs as one of the biggest deterrents.
Q: Can I go to sleep, or should I stay awake?
A: The manhunt lasted about 20 hours. In the case of a lockdown, you want to make sure that someone can stay awake and alert to monitor the situation via a police scanner (or smartphone app), news and even social media. I would not suggest taking an Ambien and putting in the earbuds for the night. Turn down the volume of TV’s and video games so you can be alert to sounds outside and inside the house. Keep your shoes on. When law enforcement evacuated residents at gunpoint from some of the homes, people were caught barefoot and forced to evacuate. One Watertown resident said that he asked police if he could put his shoes on before leaving, and was told, ‘No.’ Also, the adult should be the only one to answer door, and be prepared to leave immediately with go-bags.
Q: Should we go hang out with the neighbors?
A: There is safety in numbers. More people equals more eyes. A person living alone should probably congregate with other neighbors. Same with a single parents and small children. Leave a small note on the front door for law enforcement that says, ‘Door is open. House is empty.’ with a contact number.
onPointTactical has two mottos: “Training Trumps Gear,” and “Community Trumps Training.” It is better to be trained than equipped. The more you know, the less you need.
The second part, Community Trumps Training means that you, as an individual, are less safe alone in challenging situations, than when you are in league with others. You can’t watch all directions by yourself, you can’t cook, tend the children, protect the house, watch the neighborhood alone. So to protect your family, extend yourself and form a neighborhood community. Have each others phone numbers, and communicate suspicious activity.
Creating Layers of Defense
Speaking of neighbors, it’s helpful to think of home security in what we call layers or concentric rings of security. We start as far out as possible from our home. To do this effectively you need more eyes and ears than you have. A neighborhood watch helps keep the neighborhood safer by providing current information and reporting on suspicious activity.
The next layer of security begins at the property line. If you live on a large or even average sized lot, you may want to install perimeter alerts at key entry points. A wireless driveway sensor lets you know when someone comes onto the property by way of the driveway. You can do the same for footpaths and gates in fences. A simple beep alerts you that someone has entered the property.
There is a universal principle that the trade off for security is convenience. One of the advantage of passive monitors like these is that they do not require constant vigilance. In essence they are force multipliers. They simply require you to look when you hear the beep.
Improve the quality of outside locks and doors. The majority of houses in the US have very inexpensive locks that were put on when the house was built. These locks can be picked in a matter of seconds. Start with locks. Talk to a locksmith. Find a GOOD brand.
Next, improve the strength of the door jams by installing door jam reinforcement. Most home improvement stores sell a U-shaped steel channel, that combined with a good lock will make the doors very hard to kick in.
Secure sliding glass doors with a dowel laid into the channel on the non-opening side that blocks the door. If the windows will be opened, drill and peg the window frames so that they cannot be opened without breaking the glass (unless you remove the peg of course).
The next layer of protection will be the most controversial. It is my suggestion that you have a means of protection in the form of a weapon if all these preventions have failed.
From a non-lethal perspective, consider keeping a can of wasp spray next to your bed. It will shoot about twenty feet and render the attacker in serious distress. I do not like pepper spray indoors because it affects both the perp and the person spraying it. It is very hard for you to spray it in your house and not end up disabled on the floor.
The familiar recommendations of knives and firearms require training to be genuinely safe and effective for home defense purposes. That is a post for another time.
The further out you can become aware of the threat, the better your chances of keeping predators away from your family and maintain the ability to respond to the threat appropriately. Remember, when seconds count, the police are minutes away. We call this responsibility.
Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Kevin Reeve is the founder of onPoint Tactical, training professionals and select civilians in urban escape & evasion, urban survival, wilderness survival, tracking and scout skills. I’ve personally taken onPoint Tactical’s Urban Escape & Evasion class and highly recommend it as a resource!
Main photo © KRON 4
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One of the best intruder deterrents I learned from my dad. He always has kept a couple heavy-duty Maglite flashlights by his bed. This allows him the option to blind an intruder, have something heavy to swing if he comes into close contact, and gives him a rapid source of light without fumbling for a light switch. It also is a kid-friendly option if there are young ones in the house. A flashlight left out is safer than a knife or other weapon.
Personally, In a scenario described above, I would keep my dogs indoors. Not only as a deterrent but also to prevent your dog from potentially being shot by LEO. If a house to house search is conducted and out comes Fido charging towards Officers, there's a good chance Fido might meet his maker.
I always understood that if you're worried about shots coming in through the walls, the safest thing to do is go lie down in your bathtub. It's basically a huge three-dimensional ceramic plate. Frankly, I'm surprised nobody mentioned this.
@Markus most bathtubs are fiberglass, I personally had my wife to sit on a toilet in the bedroom when we had someone break into our large crawl space after they robbed a pharmacy across the street. Mr DOG the K-9 cop arrested him about 7 mins after.
@Markus most bathtubs are fiberglass, I personally had my wife to sit on a toilet in the bedroom when we had someone break into our large crawl space after they robbed a pharmacy across the street. Mr DOG the K-9 cop arrested him about 7 mins after.
No officer is going to order me from my house without a warrant in his hand. Ever. If I'm at the door it's a guarantee that the bad guy is not in my house because either I would have shot him or he would have shot me.
If the people of Boston want to let the police violate their Constitutional Rights that is on them. I've no obligation to go along with it.
Fairly new to the site. An interesting comment in the article was to be "prepared to leave immediately with a go-bag." What are some suggestions for a good packing list for go-bags, both adult and children?
Thanks and keep up the great work!
I appreciate the advice, as well as this site in general, and value it as a resource. That being said, anyone who went along with, or is openly advocating going along with the commands of the moronic SWAT/FBI/DHS dickheads' commands to leave your house needs to put a sock in it. I'd paste a copy of the 4th Amendment to my front door and tell anyone demanding I leave to screw off.
I'm personally more worried about a dozen trigger happy ignorami's storming onto my property than one skinny pansy hiding out in my boat. Anyone who disagrees with me needs to take a look at CATO's raid map, and learn how to protect themselves so as not to let any such murderous thugs gain entry to their homes.
@JohnSmith51 I disagree with you. Not about forcing folks out of their own homes, but about the assertion that botched SWAT raids for minor infractions is similar to the house-to-house search for an armed and dangerous criminal who has already demonstrated his willingness to kill anyone and everyone in his path.
I have found some news on “Lockdown: What to Do After Locking the Doors” and this is good because we need not only general article. We need informative and helpful article. I think this article help anyone when he face same problem. Tips which are given here is really good. Thanks for this article.
The part about removing folks for a house-to-house search seems a little "off." It's not tactically sound in that you're putting civilians out in the open. You don't know where this guy is. He might be watching you from another house and as you parade a young couple with small children into the street he "sends a message." Not good. I would certainly not want that on my conscience.
Forcing people out of their house should only happen if it is suspected the suspect is in the house and forcing the person answering the door to say certain things. It shouldn't be routine. A good crew would have a signal in these cases so as to not tip off the bad guy.
Anyway, I'm sure mistakes were made, but in the end they got the bad guy and I've not heard of anyone getting in hot water over anything that was found during a sweep.
As for the dog, keep him inside during a lockdown. You'll have all sorts of people running around and he will probably bark at the good guys negating the whole reason for him to be outside. Additionally, you don't want to prevent the police from using your yard if they need to. Would hate to have to shoot your dog as I'm chasing the bad guy through your yard.
@KenJones1 The part about removing folks for a house-to-house search seems a little "off." It's not tactically sound in that you're putting civilians out in the open.
Precisely right, however, it does sometimes make sense for the police to ask the person who answers the door to briefly step outside and far enough away from the house that, if there's a bad guy inside that person can, by facial expressions, communicate that the reality is different from what they are saying.
That, in turn, means that the police at the door need to get across that they're competent enough that they will appear to accept his words and leave, while covertly targeting the house. Unfortunately, today's macho, militarized cops often leave the impression that, in such a hostage situation, they'd yank an unwilling father away and leave the wife and kids inside caught between an over-eager SWAT team and their kidnapper. Not good.
Cops can be mellow. A few years ago in Seattle, I was walking home late at night when I came upon a policeman who was obviously covering a major street. When I asked what was going on, he said that there was a criminal on the loose. But he'd didn't hold me back. He simply told me to watch out on my way home. That makes a lot more sense than either lock-downs or dragging people out of their homes.
Some of this sort of folly is the result of politicized and media-phobia officials at the top of the police hierarchy. If something goes wrong, they want to be able to point to something they did even if that something made matters worse.
--Michael W. Perry, Chesterton on War and Peace
this comment is less about the article and more about the comments... for clarification purposes. (let's just say I'm someone who knows certain details first hand). As for the article- excellent job! It hits on a much needed, yet little discussed topic. Bravo!
First, the majoriy of the interactions during the incident we're talking about were requests, not demands. And, the majority of responses were of agreement and thanks. it would seem that only/mostly those not involved had the problems with how it was handled.
Second, no one cared or cares about your posters, porn, or illegal grow in this situation... there was a mission to accomplish. Being so far removed from the situation, a lot of people find it real easy to say what they "would've" done... when the options are pitch a fit, or let them find the guy who may try to kill or blow up you and yours, the choice isn't so tough.
Yes, you definitely could start shooting at the armed, armored guys because you think you're "right." Let me know how that works out.
you're clearly right, and I'm clearly wrong... and its clear that no further response from me will change that. Regardless of what I know.... and what you saw on tv and youtube. :-)
Third, let's flip the script: bad guy WAS in a house... your sisters/mothers/brothers etc. and was forcing them to say "all is well here" (or whatever else) and then the guys just like that; then the bad guy kills your family member. I have a feeling some of the same people pitching a fit about their "freedom" would be demanding blood because the guys didn't follow through to ensure their family members safety. Well friends, you can't have it both ways. They erred on the side of being sure- THEM being sure, not YOU or your neighbor or your cousin. Just the guys who were looking for him.
Lastly, there are laws to prevent the government from just waltzing into your home. There are also laws that allow them to (and yes, without a warrant). Right or wrong, they exist. Educate yourself if you think otherwise. And, while it did not come to the dick-measuring contest that some people have said *they* would've made it, the guys searching would've ended up in your house and clearing it. Like it or not. Again, not up for debate- that decision was made and would've been followed through with. There are courts to argue in if you feel you've been wronged... afterwards. There is a whole system in place to be utilized.
@extremesgs Or you could just start shooting....no need to wait for "afterwards" :-).
BTW, the "bad guy in your home"-story is a BS "movie plot" threat (term coined by security expert Bruce Schneier) that you are using in attempt to justify silly, ineffective, unconstitutional behavior by state and local governments.
As for the "...majority of the interactions being requests, not demands..." you don't know that to be true, not at all. Even if you were LE on the scene, you still wouldn't know whether or not that statement was true, as you couldn't have seen the majority of the interactions. However, the MAJORITY of the videotaped evidence that has surfaced of this incident shows that these interactions were indeed, demands and not "requests".
@extremesgs They ignored the laws in place to prevent that kind of action. They either need the same probable cause necessary to get a warrant in front of a judge to search your home or it needs to be exigent circumstances of a very specific time/place. Going from house to house in a broad geographic area fulfills neither. And just to refresh your memory, the perp was found outside the search area by a few blocks. Your 'family member' argument is a straw man.
I agree with Sharps. These Bostonians were too submission to cops, leaving their homes on demand and permitting warrantless searches. Ditto that city-wide lockdown. Perhaps that's why Boston is a very 'blue' city. They're wimps.
As I understand the law, police can make people exit cars and search them because cars are mobile and disappear before a warrant could be issued.. But they cannot enter homes without some clear cause, such as gun shots or shouting from inside. The possibility a criminal might be in the neighborhood isn't sufficient cause. They should have said no, informing the police that no criminal was present and that they were perfectly capable of defending themselves if one did try to enter. If the police thought otherwise, then they needed to get a judge to issue a warrant.
This remark, made by William Pitt in the 18th century, must rank among the best words every spoken in the British parliament. Remember it well."The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter, the rain may enter,—but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement! "
We need more of that spirit today.
Michael W. Perry, Chesterton on War and Peace
I've been curious about this as well. What was the premise for going door to door and searching homes without a warrant? I know that in Alaska this would be a complete no go. The idea of being told that I MUST leave my home is just so... wrong. As a firefighter, even if there is a wildfire bearing down on a neighborhood, I can't force people to leave their homes, as thinbluelion said I can strongly urge them to leave but I can't physically force them to. Anyone have any insight into this?
I gotta tell ya, Chris has a valid point! "Lockdowns" and how they relate to our personal freedoms as American citizens is a dubious topic!!! Furthermore, saying stuff like "...Nutjob of the day award..." really takes away from what we can all learn from this 'conversation'. (and makes you sound like a giant A$$hole) We're all on here because we have similar beliefs! Shame on you guys for railing on Chris!
@chuck1925I don't think dropping "cunt in a uniform" in the first reply to this post won him any supporters.
As the owner of a large dog, I'd be inclined to keep him inside the house in this situation.
: I don't want him to get shot any more than anyone else in my family
: It's unnerving for the rest of us to know he's roaming outside and barking at anything and everything that moves
: I don't mind if the LEOs are using my yard as a shortcut, and I will have all my external lights on
: Anybody comes into the house, you know who is on point - with pointy teeth, giving me extra time to respond
:They have all the same advantages of a little dog that you state, except they are bigger
:They're just very reassuring to have around
Here in Texas we cannot force anyone to leave their home, all we could do is point at the giant cloud of chlorine approaching and say "You are going to die."...oh wait, I did actually say that. I see no advantage ii ordering an evacuation during a manhunt. Ask residents to shelter in place and to observe and report. What benefit is there is creating a mass exodus? All it does is expose innocents to danger and create a crap load of extra cars to stop at any roadblocks. Plus, likes others stated, I don't think it is constitutional and I don't enforce unlawful orders.
Great advice. As to lighting, I add an additional point. If the danger is serious enough to necessitate going into a safe room, turn ON lights in the rest of the house, the more the better, and turn OFF the lights in the safe room except maybe a small flashlight that can be quickly turned off. That'll mean that when the bad guy kicks open the door to the safe room, he won't be able to see well inside for a few seconds. That's long enough for you to make sure this is a foe and use whatever weapon you have.
As is often the case, the Israelis have good ideas . New apartment buildings and condos are required to have a poison-gas proof safe room in the building's interior. I've also been told that they now build those rooms on top on one another with ladders and lockable hatches below and above. When trouble comes, those in safe rooms can unlock those hatches and group together in a larger safe room either on the roof (gas attack) or basement (bombs and other weapons). That gets the safety in numbers you mention without involving any exposure.
Another suggestion that may work in some public areas. I just moved from Seattle back to my college town (Auburn, AL) and I've noticed that in many public spaces in this tornado region restrooms are marked as the place to go in a tornado, probably because the walls and roof are reinforced. What's protection from high winds is also likely to offer protection from bullets, so you might want to note those signs if you're out in public.
One final suggestion relates to a wide variety of situations. My carry-everywhere flashlight has two switches. One turns on a fairly bright set of five LEDs. the other turns on a single 'just enough to see by'LED. That has multiple advantages:
1. In an emergency, the batteries will last a lot longer with that single red LED. (100 hrs according to specs.)
2. Moving about, that dim red light doesn't destroy night vision.
3. That dim red LED is also less likely to reveal your location than a brighter and whiter one.
4. As an added bonus, many animals don't see red, so you don't attract or disturb them.
Mine is a pocket-sized LED Lenser V sold by Coast years ago, but other lights may offer that same feature. I prefer one with separate red and white switches rather than models with a single switch and modes that pass through bright when you turn them on or off. With mine, the lanyard position lets me tell which switch is red and which is white, so I don't inadvertently hit the wrong one.
An even better model would have three easy-to-distinguish-by-their-feel switches: 1. Dim red, 2. Normal white, and 3. Bright enough to blind those it is shown directly on.
--Michael W. Perry
I have several LED flashlights from Tractor Supply. I'm using two now to light pumpkins on the porch.
They are great in conserving battery energy. Each requires 3 AAA and those last over 20 hours so far.
@Chris You seem a little fired up, but you raise a good point. Does anybody know, Is it legal for a police officer to remove you from your home at gunpoint? I understand they may enter if they have a warrant but it did seem a little off-putting that they would enter a private citizens home and remove them.
Or you know since lockdowns are things that happen in prisons and I'm a free american maybe, just maybe don't take orders from jackbooted thugs.
I alone will determine the best course of action for me and mine. If I determine that it is best for me to leave my house or guard my door with my AR I will. Regardless of what stuffed shirt on TV or cunt in a uniform tells me what to do.
And the only way I am being dragged out of my house by anyone will be in a body bag. Hopefully not the only body bag on the scene.
@Chris Or you could say to yourself, "The police are looking for a bad guy. I can be a help or a hindrance. Which do I want to be?"
I must have missed that part of the fourth amendment "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures; UNLESS of course the police are looking for a bad guy."
I'm not interested in being a hindrance, but at the same time I'm not going out of my way to help the state. And I most assuredly am not taking orders. I'm a citizen not a subject that can be ordered around.
At what point do you say cops pointing guns at unarmed innocent civilians is NOT justified?
Yes God forbid people take responsibility for themselves and their own protection instead of waiting to be told what to do by people with less training and not my best interests at heart.
Yep Jim, just another keyboard commando here.
Nothing like extrapolating from your cowardice and projecting your inadequacies on those you can neither beat intellectually or physically.