With the insanity that is occurring in Minneapolis right now and the past riots that have occurred in Ferguson and Baltimore it appears that the current culture of civil unrest is here to stay.  While writing this post on 5/30/2020 I have seen within a week an incident that started in Minneapolis has spread all over the country with riots occurring not only in Minneapolis, but also Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York, and nearly every major city in the past 24 hours. If you live in or near a large metro area you need to at least start thinking about what to do, not if, but when, riots and/or large-scale civil unrest occurs where you live. 

It can come on like wildfire. It’s better to be days early than a minute late.

What does it take to come up with a plan? I’m going to break down what to do into three stages, the preparation phase, implementation phase, and the tactical withdrawal phase of the operation.  Each phase will require preparation and planning that should be done as soon as any indication that civil unrest may occur is seen in the populous. Hopefully this is never needed but as always, when it comes to a safety plan, it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. 

PREPARATION PHASE

Every American should be considering this, right now. 

This is going to be the part that will make or break the plan that you develop.  You can name all the different acronyms and sayings that are related to preparation but the one thing that is constant is that you have to prepare and plan for every contingency or you will be caught off guard. 

  • Make not only your home but your neighborhood a “hard target”, a target that criminals think twice about before attacking. If you live in a major city in an apartment complex or in a free standing home, you have to remember that just like in a riot, there is power in numbers.  Work with neighbors to protect your building or neighborhood and come up with either a watch schedule or cut off movement or transportation into the neighborhood and work out patrols to try to keep troublemakers or anarchists out of your area.
  • Have a show of force. Whenever I think about situations like this I think of the Korean shop owners during the Rodney King riots in LA.  They knew that the police weren’t going to be there to help so they banded together and kept looters and rioters from destroying their shops and livelihoods.  Now I will never advocate taking pot shots at people in the middle of the streets, but one look at some of those fellas with guns out in front of their stores and on the rooftops. I can personally tell you that I would move on to another softer target if I were a criminal. 
  • Make sure that your area is well lit. When, on the phone, I was saying goodbye to my cousin who lives right in the middle of the protests in Minneapolis, I told him to make sure to be home by the time the street lights came on.  He informed me that they definitely will because as soon as the sun went down the previous night the incendiary devices and the improvised explosives started detonating.  Even though right now everyone is wearing masks criminals still prefer to operate in darkness.  Many of the people who would try to break into private homes or apartments are even more likely to in the dark.  Turn on as many lights as possible and, if available, bring in supplementary lighting to light up dark areas or avenues of approaches that bad actors may utilize.  When preparing, think of what you’ll do if the power to the area is cut and street lights go dark.  You’ll never regret buying or having access to a generator, just make sure that its working, you can keep it secured, and there is ample fuel for whatever kind of time period you’re preparing for.

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE

For millions of Americans, you’re at (or past) this point.

This is when the plan has to come together and there is active civil unrest in your city or area.  The success of the implementation phase will be determined by how well you prepared and how many different scenarios you thought up and planned for. 

  • When groups of people are approaching the area you’re defending, first try to determine the intent of the individuals. Are they legitimate protesters, a loud vocal and angry mob, are they actively looting the area, or do they just want to see the world burn?  This will determine the appropriate actions that should be taken next. 
  • If the group is a peaceful legitimate protest I would try to locate the leader. Protests will often have a person or group of people who are in charge of the protest and determine where and how the protest occurs.  Finding the leader and talking with them is the best way to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation. 
  • If on the other hand, if you have a group of people who are intent in destroying and looting, you will have to make a decision: is this something that could be challenged with a show of force? Has your plan been thought out well enough to dissuade looters and anarchists from your area? Remember, if it is a hard target they will likely go find a softer target.
  • Finally if you’re going to use force you HAVE to know the laws pertaining to use of force in your state. Look up the “Castle Doctrine” for your state. Can you shoot someone who is committing a violent felony or does someone have to be in fear for their life or serious bodily injury for deadly force to be used?  What is considered a deadly weapon where you live?  Closed fists, impact weapons, thrown projectiles, incendiary devices?  If you’re preparing to use deadly force you better know how and when to use it and articulate that use to authorities in the future.

TACTICAL WITHDRAWAL PHASE

Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, again, you’re at (or past) this point.

The final portion is the tactical withdrawal.  This isn’t something that anyone likes to think about, but to put it plain and simple: no home or possessions are worth losing your life over.  Hopefully this will not happen for you, but there could be a time when there are just too many looters and anarchists around and the chance for loss of life becomes too great.

  • This is something that needs to be worked out in the planning phase. You should anticipate threats coming from all different directions and how you’ll evacuate the area in each scenario.  Make sure that the routes are planned out and keep monitoring the road conditions and be prepared to alter routes on the fly if need be.
  • Have a “go bag” packed and ready to go if you need to get out of the area quickly. Things to include would be clothes, any medications that you need on a daily basis, cash, and a weapon of some type. If you have time and the capacity to take them, consider valuables and other irreplaceable items you may want to take with you. Very importantly, think about is fuel for your vehicle, protesters are notorious for burning gas stations.  Preparation tip: If you have two vehicles, try to keep one fueled up and use the other as a daily driver in order to keep a full tank in at least one vehicle, and make it a habit to fill when you hit a half tank. Safely storing fuel for the “time to go” is another smart action plan. If you live in a rural area think about a vehicle with four-wheel drive in case you have to go off road to get away from a dangerous situation. 
  • It would also be prudent to plan ahead to the point that you get some of the items that are needed to a friend or family member’s house that is out of the danger zone ahead of time. Again it is better to have and not need than to need… you get the point. 

Beat the rush, “panic” early.

“America’s Burning”… “Our Country is in a Crisis”… These are unprecedented times; this should be obvious to everyone now. Hopefully the crisis is a motivator to consider every aspect of your personal safety plan for you and your loved ones. Finally,  these kinds of situations can quickly evolve, so planning for every single possible contingency (that you can) is important.  Stay safe everyone.

You are your own first responder.

 

Alex Droske

Alex Droske

Pretty Loaded Instructor

Alex grew up in North Eastern North Dakota and attended the University of North Dakota. While at UND Alex enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard and served as a CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear) Operations Specialist and Combat Engineer for 12 years. While in the military Alex conducted CBRN training at the Unit level and was trained and proficient in demolitions and urban breeching. Alex attended the Lake Region Law Enforcement Academy in 2011 and began his law enforcement career.

Since then Alex served with the Grafton Police Department rising to the rank of Deputy Chief and is currently employed as a Special Agent with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Bismarck ND. During his time with the Bureau, Alex spent two years attached to a narcotics task force and is currently working general crimes covering a majority of the South East portion of North Dakota. Alex is a trained crime scene reconstructionist as well as a firearms instructor and drone pilot for the Bureau. Alex has worked multiple cases to include assisting on homicides, federal level narcotics cases, gross sexual imposition, and aggravated assaults.

Alex spends a majority of whatever free time he can get with his family and his dog Kirby.

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