Be Prepared for the “Lone Wolf” Attacker

The possibility of an unannounced attack is an ever present threat for police, or anyone in uniform for that matter. The current threat concerning “lone wolf” attacks by terror sympathizers has garnered a great deal of attention from the press, but what does it really mean to the average street officer?

Following a reported call to arms by ISIS leaders, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI issued several warnings to law enforcement to be vigilant concerning potential attacks by lone actors, rather than cells or organized groups. News outlets nationwide were quick to explore this “new” terror threat, especially following the attacks at the Canadian War Memorial & Parliament and the hatchet attack on several NYPD officers. But, were these attacks proof of an ISIS conspiracy, or did the media reports themselves breed the attacks?

Lone WolfGuess what? It does not really matter. Yes, it is important to the analysts and policy makers to understand whether ISIS inspired either of the attacks, but for the average street officer, the only thing that matters is that the attacks took place… and could happen again. It does not matter if the motivation is political, a criminal looking for revenge, or simply a deranged individual looking to go out in a blaze of glory; the possibility of attack by a “lone wolf” is ever present. Everyone in uniform should take this opportunity to review their personal habits for potential vulnerabilities and make changes necessary to keep you, your coworkers and even your family safe.

Predictability – review travel and patrol routes for patterns attackers may pick up on. Do you stop at the same quick mart for coffee? Does the shift eat at the same burger shop every afternoon? Do you cruise by the same businesses or banks at closing time? If so, others have noticed. If one of those observers means to do you harm, you may have provided the opportunity.

Social Media – it has become a part of every aspect of daily life, including personal security. Avoid discussing travel or work schedules, family plans or other personal information which could be used to track your movements or determine when you or your family will be vulnerable.

Stay Hard – never let your guard down; never become a soft target. Remember, if you can be identified as a law enforcement officer, you are a potential target. This includes when you are on duty or off.

Protect Your Gear – identification, gear or weapons may be the missing piece to the potential attacker’s puzzle. Make sure that you do not provide that final piece by leaving your gear unsecured. If you do find identification or gear missing, report it immediately.

Share Information – officer safety is not the time for department rivalries, it is a time to share what you know with anyone who will listen. If you think there is an identified threat, get the information out so everyone can be prepared. After all, unless the threat is specific to your personnel, hardening your own defenses may simply cause the attacker to shift his target to another department.

Keep safe out there!

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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