Unfortunately, it’s only humorous because the potential goblin they encountered was me. Otherwise they might have spent the Christmas Holiday in ICU or in the coroner’s refrigerator and that is hardly humorous in the least.
My apologies to properly trained Security and/or Law Enforcement types among us. We’ve all seen some tactical clusterfucks of the highest order but this one is deserving of recognition here at the Rott.
While we’re at it, the following object lesson could very well apply to anyone of us, approaching a suspicious vehicle. So…On with the misadventures of Dumb and Dumber, that by the Grace of G-d, went home last night.
The Setup: I’m out doing my thing in a city that is one of the rougher places in merry olde New England, and an area of said city that most decidedly is NOT where anyone would really want to live in, let alone drive through. Simply put, Gringos that don’t habla are most unwelcome.
So, here I sit on yet another long evening surveillance, all tucked in nicely along an alleyway that leads into the housing project where my claimant (aka Bad Guy) is hanging about. I’m backed in against a nice high security fence to avoid those pesky unwanted visitors approaching my six. To my right conveniently parked is a commercial van, giving me nice cover from vehicles leaving the area. Perfect. I’m not worried about who is coming in, yet I’ve got the seat pushed back and reclined, so all but the most perceptive vehicle/occupants will notice that someone is in the van as they arrive. I’ve got a nice view of the registration of departing vehicles so all is okey-dokey for da’ job tonight.
It’s well after dark and dozens of vehicles have come up and down the alleyway, none have noticed me in the slightest. Yet another set of headlights are coming in and I recognize that it’s a full-size Chevy Impala with deck mounted lights, so it looks like 5-0 is paying the ‘hood a visit. No worries at’all. The car pulls past me, fully on the brakes and as it passes the van to my right just out of view, und so, the Singularity of Stoopidity™ begins.
A little more background, the Imperial Surveillance Vehicle™ is heavily tinted and being a full size van could contain an entire squad of goblins, and a fixed mount ZSU-23, none of which you would see until you’re waaay too close.
Then unto what do my wondering eyes appear, but the un-mistakeable glare of the reverse lights off the Impala coming on, it’s backing up in front of me.
Rule #1: Don’t pass a suspicious vehicle, show obvious notice by braking to a crawl and then immediately backup slowly to take a look and thereby set you up for a full broadside.
The Impala reverses past me, now off to the left slightly, but neither angles the headlights into the passenger compartment or lights me up with a spotlight or whatever you might have.
Rule #2: After dark, light is your friend. If properly aimed and kept directly into the eyes of Mr. Goblin (and potential compadres) in his vehicle, it is NOT his friend. I have a 30,000 candle power, retina melting rechargeable Stream Light for just this purpose.
The Impala stops, now having good common sense for my own safety (and other measures immediately at hand), at this point I flip on my dome light, drop the driver’s window and place my hands in full view in the window frame. This has a tendency to reduce the ‘pucker-factor’ of anyone approaching you that just might be a little edgy (or should be under the circumstances).
What does Dumb and Dumber in the Impala do in response? Turn on their dome light. What does this tell me? 1) Two occupants, 2) They aren’t making a radio call for backup or my registration, and 3) Well lit targets. Next they carefully put on their ball caps and I can see they clearly say “Security”.
Rule #3: Take the bulb out, disable the switch or do whatever you need to, but NEVER turn on the dome light when you exit. Illuminating the interior of your car is a gold-mine of information for the shit-bag recidivist felon, that you might be approaching.
Next Dumb Tactic Of The Year™: Dumb and Dumber both obligingly open their doors and fully exit, passenger Dumb approaches me directly, flashlight in hand but it isn’t even on, let alone where it should be, in my eyes. See Rule #2 above. Driver Dumber approaches me by walking in front of his own headlights, giving me a target even if I was partially blinded by the lighting i.e. shoot where the light was and at the thing obstructing it now…also carrying his flashlight off. Now surprisingly, Dumb and Dumber were armed, most private security types aren’t but it is that kind of area. But not to worry, as they wouldn’t be able to employ either of their sidearms quickly as they had that hand filled with a flashlight, not being used. Perhaps their employer gives them a bonus for least number of batteries used.
The Karnival of Komedy™ continues as Dumb and Dumber approach me, side by side, thus making for an easier target for Mr. Goblin should he so desire. Just a slight movement of the wrist only to move from target to target.
Rule #4: Never, ever occupy your strong side hand with flashlights, infraction books, etc. I’ve seen entirely too many incidents that go something like this, Officer Deceased exited his cruiser carrying his infraction book and was shot before he could draw his weapon. Why would you want to even bring that along on your initial approach. If you’re going to buff the operator, you do it IN your vehicle and AFTER you’ve made your initial approach to secure the scene. Don’t be a target for the next drunk to pass by, target fixating and lambaste you standing a few feet from a ton PLUS of vehicle, do your writing from inside that nice safe vehicle, while keeping the occasional eyes out on the bad guys.
Rule #5: Approach separately from different directions entirely and more importantly from outside the Zone of Death in the vicinity of your well lit vehicle. Never pass in front of your own lights and give an nice outline. If you’ve got a wingman, let whoever is making the direct approach get into position, while backup covers and moves into position outside the zone, and if at all possible on the other side of the vehicle, without if at all possible, letting Goblins Wif’ Gats Inc. know there is a second officer present.
We’re not done yet, no indeed. The Dufus Duo move right on up to within about 4 feet of my opened window. They sheepishly ask if they can help me? I told them I was on a surveillance and looking for a vehicle departing the area. Completely generic response, mind you. They respond “OK”, turn and walk back to their car.
Two bugger-all fuckups for the price of one. Which lead us to the next rules.
Rule #6: If you’ve seen something that arouses your suspicions and decided to find out for yourself the who/what/where of said suspicious vehicle, determine the identity of the vehicle (make, model, color), registration and ESPECIALLY the occupants. These Klueless Klowns took my word entirely for what I was doing. They didn’t ask who I was, even bother to check my vehicle marker plate or ask to see my PI license. They left so quickly, that I just as well might have told them I was a fleeing felon and it wouldn’t have made a difference. They were more interested in getting back into the nice warm car, than actually doing their job properly and moreover safely.
And our last- Rule #7: Unless you have a fellow officer (or trusted friend) covering the persons being interrogated, NEVER turn your back on them until you have determined beyond a doubt, that they aren’t a threat. Until that is established treat everyone and I do mean EVERYONE like they are armed and waiting for the right moment to make their move.
There you have the sad story. I had at least 7 chances of taking these poor bastards out, all the way, in under 3 minutes, with no witnesses or evidence as they obviously hadn’t called me in before stopping and approaching.
If you are in law enforcement or security (or even a private citizen during a ’serious’ social encounter), review each and every interaction during your shift and ask yourself the question “If that shit-bag really wanted to take me out, did he have an opportunity?”
Unfortunately security officers in general are the least paid, poorest trained of all the professions that have the potential to become involved in a lethal incident. Law enforcement officers get killed, not because of their training, but as the years roll by after the academy they get complacent. It’s easy for that to happen, cold weather, calls stacked up, illness, any number of things that can result in an unnecessary death or serious injury. If you feel you haven’t received the proper training, insist your company or agency provide it, or get it on your own. If you can’t or won’t, consider another line of business, because like these two poor sods, it’s only a matter of time before they won’t make it home.
To Quote Malone: “Herein endeth the lesson”