Thursday, August 26, 2010

Home Invasion 101: Have a Plan


A Guest Commentary By

Charlie Cutshaw

The time is zero dark thirty and you and your spouse/significant other are sleeping peacefully in your bed when you awaken with a start because something has gone “bump in the night” – something that shouldn’t have been there. You wonder if it was your imagination when you hear it again. Someone is in your home and since it is the wee hours of the morning, it is clear that the intruder is up to no good. Being a prudent citizen, you have a pistol and flashlight in the nightstand and your first inclination is to seek out and confront the intruder. But your two kids are in their bedroom asleep and what do you do about them? Your spouse is still sleeping, so you awaken her/him and tell them that something very bad is coming down. What to do? What would YOU do in similar circumstances?

When I was an Army officer, there was tenet that was pounded into our heads that we were to keep in mind at all times. “Remember the Five Ps.” (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.) In the case of personal safety and home defense it can well be said that prior planning prevents a family member being hurt or killed. I’m not talking about making a defense plan that involves closing with and defeating the enemy intruder, but one that ensures that you and your loved ones live to see another day.

In tactical military operations we had what were called “rallying points.” (RPs) These were places that soldiers went to if separated or after an assault or ambush. In your home, you should also establish RPs in case of emergency. These are rooms where all family members know to go to if something bad happens. In case of a “hot” burglary like the one described above, it probably will be your master bedroom. While one of you sends for the cavalry (The police), the other quietly gathers whatever other family members are in the house and brings them to the RP. The operative word is QUIETLY. You do not wish to announce to the bad guy that you know he has invaded your turf, if at all possible. In case of fire, you should have an RP outside the house where everyone goes to when a smoke detector goes off. (You DO have smoke detectors, don’t you?) Your plans should be simple and straightforward. We had another acronym in the military – KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid! Complexity in planning is the mother of failure. I can’t tell you exactly what to have in your plan, but having done this sort of thing for over 40 years, I can give you some general principles and guidance that you can fit to your circumstances.

First, if you believe that you have an intruder, DO NOT try to confront him yourself. He has the advantage of knowing that you are coming and can ambush you, despite the fact hat you know your home better than he does. Clearing a house is extremely dangerous and unless you have had training, don’t even think about clearing your own home if you are invaded. I have had training in house clearing, but if my home were to be invaded, I would leave that task to the police for the reason stated above. Yes, I have cleared buildings and houses while on police duty, but that was because it was my duty, NOT because I especially wanted to. Trust me – house clearing is one of the most dangerous tasks a police officer can face, so leave it to the police. So you have gathered your family to your RP and have called for the police. What next? Your house probably is (or was) locked and if the intruder came in through a window, the cops are going to have to get in somehow, probably through a door. If the door is locked, what can they do besides kick it in? Well, you give them a key.

When you call 911, tell the dispatcher that you have gathered your family in your RP. Tell him or her where you are in the house, that you are armed and that you will stay in your RP room until the police tell you that it is OK to come out. That way, they know that anyone they encounter in your house is a bad guy. Tell the dispatcher that you will toss a key out the bedroom window for the police to use to gain entry. We keep a key in our bedroom attached to a brightly colored and highly visible sponge that arriving police can easily see. You should do likewise, but wait until they arrive to toss it. Remember that the police aren’t psychic, so you need to tell them everything they need to know about you situation for them to successfully clear your house, keep themselves safe and hopefully apprehend the bad guy.

But what if the worst happens? You have your plan, you have retreated to your RP room and the police are en route. Unlike the movies, it will almost certainly take the police several minutes to arrive, depending upon your location. If you live in the country, it may take as long as a half hour because sheriff’s deputies are few and far between at the hours we are discussing. In the county in which I live, there are usually only two deputies on duty in the early morning hours, one for the east end of the county, one for the west. In the small police department where I am a reserve officer, there is only one officer on duty between the hours of 5:00 PM and 3:00 AM, when he goes off duty. From 3:00 to 6:00, the town is the county’s responsibility and the responding deputy maybe as far as 35 miles distant when he gets the call. My point here is that you should know the approximate response times in the area where you reside. In the final analysis, however, you may have to fend for yourself.

Although the police do their best, they are under no obligation to rescue you. In court case after court case where the police have been sued for failing to prevent a crime, the individual has been found to be personally responsible for his or her self defense. In Alabama, we have what is called the “castle doctrine.” This basically means that if someone invades my home uninvited, they are presumed to there for a nefarious purpose and can be shot. In Alabama, this doctrine also extends to my automobile if I am in it. I can’t shoot someone who is trying to steal my car if I’m not inside it, but if I’m driving and someone attacks me, I have the right to defend myself. Several other states, mostly southern, also have this doctrine, but others do not. Make sure of the law where you live before you use deadly force against anyone. Some benighted states require that you retreat from threats, even in your own home, but Alabama is not one of them. The use of deadly force is beyond the scope of this essay, but I recommend that everyone who legally has a pistol for self defense should afford themselves alternatives to deadly force. Get pepper spray, a Taser or a stun gun, so you have alternatives, even in your home. And remember…have a plan!


We recently received the following e-mail concerning Registered Sex Offender Will Foster:

In doing my monthly or so google checks on Will Foster i can across your blog. Please note that Will Foster IS a sex offender and deviant as i deal in the wake of what he has done on a daily basis. While he did nothing to me directly, what he did to someone i love will never be forgotten (as if it could, even if we tried). He should not be around kids for any reason and if i ever hear of him doing so i will call the cops myself. I am not in the MS area so i can not keep track of him but hope and pray he is not still allowed to do gymnastics in any way. You may publish this if you like as i have created this email just to send you this message. Thanks. I am very curious as to why he wasn't asked to leave, i check the registry and regardless of what it says he is on the sex offender list and should have been removed immediately.

The Sex Offender list is incorrect--it lists Foster as having only one victim over the age of 12 when the crime occurred. While four young women eventually came forward to state they had been sexually molested by Will Foster, the former gymnastics instructor agreed to plead guilty in two cases. Yet, in these two cases, as well as the two he in which he was not charged, all victims were 11 or 12 when the abuse began.

If you wish the Alabama Department of Public Safety to correct this error, please visit there website at: Link.

Scroll to the bottom of the page where you will find a comment section. You may express your concern about this error in the space provided and send as an email to the DOC.


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