Clin­ton res­i­dents learn tac­tics for pre­vent­ing a home in­va­sion

PGPD Cpl. Reaves cov­ers no non­sense tac­tics for fam­i­lies

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

Pro­vid­ing res­i­dents with tools, tac­tics and the know-how to pro­tect them­selves and their fam- ilies against home in­va­sions, Cpl. Shawn Reaves of the Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice De­part­ment’s Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Divi­sion and the Mount Airy Estates Home Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Inc. hosted a home in­va­sion and pre­ven­tion sem­i­nar on April 18 at The Cor­po­rate Group, LLC Clean­ing So­lu­tions Cen­ter in Clin­ton.

“In our com­mu­ni­ties, there are far too many vic­tims that don’t have to be vic­tims. So I re­al­ized just through ed­u­ca­tion and just mak­ing some­one pre­pared, you can min­i­mize a ci­ti­zen be­com­ing a vic­tim by giv­ing some sim­ple tips, some de­ter­rent op­tions,” Reaves said. “Just get­ting peo­ple to think, try­ing to change their mind­set.”

The main ob­jec­tives Reaves cov­ered in his pre­sen­ta­tion in­cluded get­ting citizens to change their pro­gram­ming, telling them how they can make changes in their day-to-day life that can de­crease their chances of be­com­ing a vic­tim of home in­va­sion, shar­ing what tools to pos­sess that can help citizens be­fore and dur­ing an in­ci­dent, un­der­stand how the hu­man body re­acts to a high-stress in­ci­dent, what they should do when they are face-to-face with an at­tacker and teach­ing them how to “burn their boat.”

Ac­cord­ing to Reaves, pre­vent­ing

a crim­i­nal act starts by chang­ing the mind­set which in­cludes be­ing un­pre­dictable, as well as rou­tinely chang­ing the route from work to home. If peo­ple feel like they’re be­ing fol­lowed, they should avoid go­ing home and abruptly change their route and start driv­ing to­ward a po­lice sta­tion, fire­house or an­other pop­u­lated area. It may also be nec­es­sary to drive past their home and at­tempt a U-turn if they live on a dead end street. In in­stances where peo­ple are blocked in by the fol­lower, they should stay in­side the ve­hi­cle be­cause that can be used as a weapon, Reaves said.

“You have to get be­yond the books and videos. They sim­ply make you feel good,” he said. “When a wolf at­tacks, he scat­ters the flock in hopes of fight­ing a few not many. That’s what th­ese guys are do­ing now. We’re mak­ing it easy for them.”

In terms of do­ing the same thing over and over again with­out notic­ing the changes, Reaves called this the “7-Eleven/Star­bucks Syn­drome.” That’s why, he said, it’s im­por­tant to net­work with fel­low neigh­bors, pay at­ten­tion to all warn­ing signs, trust your in­stincts and help pro­tect the com­mu­nity by be­ing a watch­dog.

“You don’t no­tice the fact that this hap­pens all the time here in Prince Ge­orge’s County where peo­ple will walk [straight] into a 7-Eleven and every­body’s got their hands up. But they walk right in and walk straight to the cof­fee ma­chine. They don’t re­al­ize the place is get­ting robbed be­cause they’ve done it over and over and over and over again and never no­ticed the changes,” he said. “Even if they do, they go into de­nial and think that this can’t be hap­pen­ing.”

Reaves said home in­va­sions don’t just hap­pen at ran­dom as the “wolf” — or per­son at­tempt­ing to at­tack — is watch­ful and knows that the risks are ex­tremely high.

For Reaves, the no­tion “if you see some­thing, say some­thing” is very im­por­tant. One way to make the com­mu­nity safer is by net­work­ing with neigh­bors, he said.

“We have to net­work with our neigh­bors,” he said. “We lost that and we can’t fig­ure out why our houses are get­ting bro­ken into and no­body’s say­ing noth­ing. It’s be­cause we don’t know our neigh­bors. We have to look at our com­mu­nity as our house. If some­body in­vades our house, we need to no­tice the change. But if we don’t no­tice the change, we’re go­ing to be vic­tims.”

If a home is un­der at­tack, Reaves rec­om­mends hav­ing a “force mul­ti­plier” such as a hand­gun, qual­ity flash­light, ASP ba­ton, pep­per spray, bat, knife or even a cell phone to gain a tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage. High ground is al­ways the best op­tion to as­sess a sit­u­a­tion — don’t be fast to call out the in­truder, dial 911, hold your po­si­tion of dom­i­na­tion and keep the lights off so that you don’t give away your lo­ca­tion in the house to the in­vader. If the lights are out, scan with your eyes, Reaves said.

“If some­body is in your house, they’re pre­pared to hurt you,” he said. “When you hear your door crash­ing in, trust the sound and go with your plan A.”

An­other way peo­ple can pre­vent a home in­va­sion is to use por­ta­ble door se­cu­rity de­vices like a door jam­mer or metal pole by the door, which can also func­tion as weapons for self pro­tec­tion. Reaves said do­ing this helps cre­ate a bar­rier, mak­ing it more chal­leng­ing for an in­truder to get in­side.

“If it goes down, plan for it. If your chil­dren are sep­a­rated, try to get every­body in one area and then de­fend that door like your lives de­pend on it be­cause it does,” said Reaves. “De­pend­ing on the way the door opens, po­si­tion your at­tack on the hinge side. … That’s when you need to at­tack with all you got.”

Reaves said it’s vi­tal for peo­ple to un­der­stand that they have a right to not only pro­tect them­selves, but their fam­i­lies as well. It’s bet­ter to have a con­ver­sa­tion and a plan now as op­posed to not be­ing pre­pared when a home in­va­sion oc­curs, he said.

“Be­cause we’re in the com­mu­nity, we’re very in­volved with the com­mu­nity and we want to have events like this so that we bring aware­ness. In an in­formed com­mu­nity, every­body wins,” said Javier Tor­res of Clin­ton, co-owner of The Cor­po­rate Group LLC who hosted the sem­i­nar. “We have to be vig­i­lant and ob­ser­vant of our sur­round­ings. I think that a lot of times, what hap­pens is we walk around non­cha­lant, we for­get our sur­round­ings and we for­get where we are. … Events like this brings every­thing to the fore­front and it makes us aware of where we are.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

Cpl. Shawn Reaves of the Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice De­part­ment Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Di­vi­sions speaks to res­i­dents about strate­gies for pre­vent­ing a home in­va­sion dur­ing a spe­cial sem­i­nar on April 18 at The Cor­po­rate Group LLC Clean­ing So­lu­tions Cen­ter in Clin­ton. Reaves has served with PGPD’s Emer­gency Ser­vices Team for about 16 years. He re­cently ap­peared on ABC 7 News in De­cem­ber of last year to share in­for­ma­tion on how citizens should pre­pare for an ac­tive shooter sit­u­a­tion.

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