How to Help Without Becoming a Victim

The continued attacks on police have obviously caused officers to operate at a heightened level of threat, but it has also caused many private citizens to state their willingness to assist should they see an officer in trouble. While this show of support is generous, and thoughtful, it is important that well-meaning citizens do not themselves become victims.

  1. Know what you are getting into – the first rule of responding to an emergency situation is to take a few seconds to evaluate the situation, ensuring you are not rushing into something you are not prepared or equipped to deal with. How many attackers are there? Are they armed, and if so, what type of weapons do they have? Are there other officers, possibly in plain clothes, in the vicinity who can better address the threat? Each scenario will be different with its own variables, but every scenario can be made even worse by a failure to see the obvious.
  2. Here I am, and this is who I am – I can think of only a few things more dangerous than rushing towards an officer ready to fight and possibly armed, but one would be to rush towards an officer ready to fight and possibly armed while that officer is already facing an attack. It is vital that police-caryou announce yourself and your intentions. This should be done loudly, clearly and repeatedly until you are acknowledged by the officer or at least know he/she heard you. This will also help advice other bystanders that you are not a second attacker, especially useful if they are communicating with 911. Speaking of 911, if time allows, you should always contact emergency services prior to becoming involved and advise them of the situation, your intentions and your personal description.
  3. Do what responding officer tells you to do – do not take it personal if responding officers treat you as a possible threat, even to the point of ordering you to the ground and disarming you. Remember, others rushing to the aid of their colleague do not know you or your involvement – what they do know is a brother officer was in trouble and needs their help. Follow their instructions, allow them the time it takes to unravel the details and accept the apology when they determine the true nature of your involvement.
  4. Make sure your own response is legal – I hate to bring this up and it does not speak well of our current society that it is even an issue, but make sure that anything you do and any weapon you may have on your person is completely legal. In this day and age, when police officers are being investigated and even arrested for performing their own duties, it is a definite possibility that you will face the same scrutiny. There is no reason to tarnish your willingness to assist, something fewer and fewer people are willing to do, by then being charged for carrying an unlicensed firearm or using more force than a politically motivated prosecutor deems necessary.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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