cpo editorial

Dealing with Crime & Violence


Whether you have been a victim of crime, have known a victim, or even presently know a perpetrator of a crime, you understand the unsettling feelings that violence evokes. The fact remains that very few of us will make it through this life without being personally affected by violence.

For some it exists in their home in the form of domestic abuse, child abuse, or even elderly abuse. For others it exists in their schools, in the workplace, in the community on our roadways [i.e. Road Rage and in recent years it has expanded to include sporting events for children.]

There are some ways we can lessen our chances of being a victim of crime but it is extremely important that we never become complacent. Nor should we blame ourselves if we have done all we can and still become the victim of violence. There are times that being a victim is just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For instance, a few months ago, two boys [18] stood outside of a local grocery store. The boys were doing drugs when one bet the other that he would beat up the next person to leave the store. High on drugs, he attacked an unsuspecting elderly man with a baseball bat. He did not know the man he brutally beat. He probably would not have assaulted the man had he not been high on drugs. But it doesn't matter to his victim. The devastated old man suffered at the hands of a stranger for no apparent reason other than his timing. The victim could have been a woman, it could have been a child, ...it could have been you. The old man will be traumatized for the rest of his life. He may always be leary of public places and people he doesn't know. Sad ...but true. The court system sentenced the boys but they were out again before the old man even fully recovered. [Justice needs an overhaul.]

Could he have prevented this attack? Probably not. A person on drugs is not coherent. You cannot count on being able to reason with him. And a person on drugs is not as sensitive to pain. A person on drugs can withstand as much as six times what would disable a normal person. Pretty bleak picture?

So what can we do?

Here's a list of suggestions gathered from various sources that will help us increase the odds of us not becoming a victim:

When driving

  • Keep your doors locked
  • Keep your windows up or only slightly opened
  • Keep gas in your tank and your car in peak condition
  • Do not pick up strangers. Never hitchhike.
  • Drive safely and avoid Road Ragers
  • Carry a car phone and use in case of emergency
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back
  • Do not drive in isolated areas alone
  • Know where you are at and how to read a map - Ask directions from a public area, i.e., gas station, restaurant, store, etc.
When shopping
  • Do not park in isolated areas
  • Be aware of your surroundings and others around you
  • Put your purchases in a closed trunk or under seats
  • Keep your purse or wallet in your possession
  • Pay attention - distractions are sometimes arranged by thieves to throw you off guard
  • Always keep an eye on your children - it only takes a minute for someone to take them or for them to wander off.
At Home
  • Keep your doors locked even if you are home
  • Call to verify a salesman, repairman or policeman
  • Install and use deadbolt locks
  • Install a peephole in your door
  • Avoid putting glass next to the front door - it can be broken for easy access
  • Do not hide keys under rocks, above window sills, in a planter, etc.
  • Padlock electrical boxes
  • Cover phone wires outside the house so they cannot be cut.
  • Change the locks if your keys are lost or you just moved in
  • Make sure your house numbers are visible from the street day and night [in case you call for law enforcement]
  • Have all entrances well-lit [motion-activated lights are great]
  • Keep your shrubs lower than your windows
  • Keep trees branches trimmed 6 ft from the ground
  • Fences should be high enough to give security
  • Fences should be in good condition
  • Keep padlocks on rear gates
  • Keep your garage door closed
  • Unplug your automatic garage door opener when you go on vacation
  • Close blinds or curtains at night
  • Use a board or block to secure your sliding glass door
  • Windows must be secured - whether open or closed
In the Workplace
  • Do not walk out into the parking lot alone, especially if it is dark
  • Pay attention to stress levels of your co-workers and yourself
  • Be aware of alcohol and substance abuse in yourself and others
  • Find another job if continuing stress is a factor on the job
  • Disgruntled former employees should not be lurking about
  • Anyone hanging around who isn't employed should be noted
In School - including College
  • Do not go through dark, secluded areas alone, including stairwells and empty rooms.
  • Do not walk out into the parking lot at night alone [and be cautious during the day]
  • Carry pepper spray [college only - this is not legal in high school] and be aware that it can be lethal to someone with asthma - on the other hand - if someone is going to attack you, you have the right to defend yourself by whatever means necessary. [Also, it is illegal in Wisconsin.]
  • Remember, fighting never solved anything. Don' t fight unless you have to. But don't be afraid to fight if necessary.
  • Report to the administration anyone who is threatening violence. [Every school shooting this year was pre-planned and announced ahead of time.]
  • Tell others if you are being stalked, harassed or threatened
  • Seek help if you are becoming stressed out

Be careful and stay safe.

Connie Eccles


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