SAFETY ALERT: ‘Don’t Be A Victim’ – Part One

In a perfect world, you could pinpoint when or where you’d be a victim of a violent crime or not become a victim at all.

Obviously if that was the case, you wouldn’t have 54% of South Alabamians worried about being a victim one day.

Exclusive News 5 Strategy Poll

During our latest News 5 Strategy poll, we asked registered voters, “do you ‘fear’ or find yourself worried, you may someday be the victim of a violent crime?”

2,914 people responded giving us a 2% margin of error.

54% said, ‘yes,’ they do have a fear.

“The issue of crime and fear is one that quite frankly brings us all together. It’s something we all have to worry about. Republican or Democrat. Black or white. Man or woman. Everyone needs to be, and by this poll, is worried about crime,” said poll analyst Jon Gray.

The final question in our News 5 Strategy poll was “Do you ever make decisions based on trying to avoid being a victim of crime?”
Of those who answered, 81% said they do.

“Violent crime is on the increase. People are feeling it, but they’re not living in fear”, says Gray. “They’re taking actions and they’re being aware of their surroundings and this poll says they’re making smarter decisions based on that. I don’t think that means people are living in fear. I think that means people are living smart.”

Situational Awareness

You can buy all sorts of gadgets and tools, but, if you’re not careful, they might cause you more trouble than their worth.

“What happens is we use those as a sense of security and we lose our powers of observation. So, we use them as a crutch,” retired Police Lieutenant and self-defense expert John Graham explained.

While self-defense tools can aid you, Graham said your best defense is situational awareness.

John Graham, retired police Lieutenant and owner of Graham's Elite Martial Arts.
John Graham, retired police Lieutenant and owner of Graham’s Elite Martial Arts.

“Situational awareness will get you out of a lot of trouble. These are crimes of opportunity. You look like an easy victim. You’re on your phone. You’ve got your hands full. You’re looking down as you’re walking to your vehicle. You haven’t seen anything because you’re having a conversation with someone [on the phone]. Obviously if I’m looking for a quick hit, I’m going to hit you because you won’t even see me coming,” Graham said.

Situational awareness is as simple as putting the phone away and making eye contact with people who pass you on the sidewalk.

It’s as easy as avoiding seedy parts of town after dark.

“If I’m going out at night, I make sure I have a full tank of gas. So, I fill up in the daylight hours,” Graham said.

Another easy tip; carrying a flashlight.

Scott Thompson, Weapons instructor and owner of Gulf Firearms Instruction LLC
Scott Thompson, Weapons instructor and owner of Gulf Firearms Instruction LLC

“A flashlight gives you what we call a pause in combat. You shine a bright light in anybody’s eye, their first reaction is to cover your eyes and turn your head and bring your hands up,” weapons instructor Scott Thompson suggested. A flashlight isn’t a guarantee obviously, but it could buy you time. That’s what counts during a critical moment; time to get away.

“The mind is the weapon. Everything else is just a tool,” Thompson said.

Bushnell Pro High Performance Flashlight, 325 Lumens (SOURCE: Wal-Mart)
Bushnell Pro High Performance Flashlight, 325 Lumens (SOURCE: Wal-Mart)

Here at News 5, several of the reporters recommend the Bushnell Pro High-Performance Flashlight from Wal-Mart.
It’s $30, has jagged edges on both ends, and is small enough to fit in your pocket.

Our goal with this series isn’t to scare you or sensationalize violent crime stats. Crime happens everywhere. It’s not restricted to dark parking lots or late night hours. Our goal is to get a conversation started between you and your family about what you would do “if” or “when” you become a victim of a crime.

You may think you don’t need a plan, but you can bet the criminals already have one.

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