Churches Developing Tactical Response Capability

http://markknapp.multiply…_Guns_on_Campus

Churches have been coming under attack for many years from many quarters. Now well armed individuals, often with a grievance or just hatred for Christianity have been literally invading churches to kill the worshippers within:

Killer’s rant filled with profanity, hate
By The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 12/11/2007 09:24:12 AM MST

A message posted between the Youth With a Mission shooting in Arvada on Sunday, Dec. 9 and the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs is believed to be Matthew Murray’s last posting. It contains language which many may find objectionable:

“You christians brought this on yourselves!”

—————————————————————————–

“I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. ….God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.

Well all you people out there can just kiss my ass and die. From now on I don’t give a @#%$ about what all you muthaf#*kers have to say, unless I respect you which is highly unlikely, but for those of you who do happen to know me and know that I respect you, may peace be with you and don’t be in my line of fire, for the rest of you, you all better @#%$ hide in your houses because I’m coming for EVERYONE soon, and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth, and I WILL shoot to kill and I WILL @#%$ KILL EVERYTHING! No I am not crazy, crazy is just a word, to me it has no meaning, everyone is different, but most of you @#%$ heads out there in society, going to your everyday @#%$ jobs and doing your everyday routine shitty things, I say @#%$ you and die, if you got a problem with my thoughts, come to me and I’ll kill you, because……..God damnit, DEAD PEOPLE DON’T ARGUE! My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law. If you don’t like it, you die. If I don’t like you or I don’t like what you want me to do, then you die. If I do something incorrect, oh @#%$ well, you die. Dead people can’t do many things, like argue, whine, @#%$, complain, name, rat out, criticize, or even @#%$ talk. So that’s the only way to solve arguments with all you fuckheads out there, I just kill. God I can’t wait till I can kill you people, I’ll just go to some downtown area in some big city and blow up and shoot everything I can.

You break my back but you won’t break me…..all is black but I still see…shut me down, knock me to the floor…..shoot me up, @#%$ me like a whore….trapped under ice, comfortably cold, I’ve gone as low as you can go….. feel no remorse, no sorrow or shame……time’s gonna wash away all pain I made a God out of blood not superiority I killed the king of deceit and now I sleep in anarchy…”

We pieced together the following account of what happened next from various websites:

In Denver, a woman, fresh from a three day fast, in which she prayed to God for guidance in choosing a career path, was thrown right into the path of this mad-dog killer:

Amid deafening cracks of gunfire, smoke-spewing canisters and the flight of thousands of New Life Church members, Jeanne Assam said she suddenly saw the hallways clear and a gunman come through the door.

“I took cover. I identified myself. I engaged him. I took him down,” the 42-year-old former law officer and volunteer church security guard said Monday at a news conference in the Colorado Springs police station.
Murray was carrying two handguns, an assault rifle and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, said Sgt. Jeff Johnson of the Colorado Springs Police Department.

“It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God,” she said.

Assam worked as a police officer in downtown Minneapolis during the 1990s and is licensed to carry a weapon. She attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during another service.

New Life’s Senior Pastor Brady Boyd called Assam “a real hero” because Murray “had enough ammunition on him to cause a lot of damage.”

Boyd said Assam was the one who suggested the church beef up its security Sunday following the Arvada shooting, which it did. The pastor credited the security plan and the extra security for preventing further bloodshed.

Boyd said there are 15 to 20 security people at the church. All are volunteers but the only ones armed are those who are licensed to carry weapons.

The security guards are members of the church who are screened and not “mercenaries that we hire to walk around our campus to provide security,” Boyd said.

About 7,000 people were on the church campus at the time of the shooting, said Boyd….

“I just said, ‘Holy Spirit, be with me.’ I wasn’t even shaking,” Assam said. “I give the credit to God. I say this very humbly. God was with me.”

The female security guard who shot and stopped a gunman at a Colorado Springs church yesterday is crediting God for helping her to resolve the threat by killing the assailant…

“This has got to be God, because of the firepower that [the gunman] had vs. what I had was God. I did not run away and I didn’t think for a minute to run away, I just knew that I was given the assignment to end this before it got too much worse. I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me.” …
“I heard shots fired. It was chaos. There were a lot of people in the church,” she described.

“The halls cleared out and I saw him coming through the doors. I took cover, waited for him to get closer, came out of cover and identified myself, engaged him, took him down,” she said.

Church officials said they have a contingent of volunteer security officers because of the high profile of the church.

“Obviously if we had not had an armed person on our campus, 50 or 100 people could have lost their lives,” the pastor said. …

…victims Stephanie Works, 18, and her sister Rachael, 16, adorned the program for services Sunday.

The two were killed when gunman Matthew Murray, armed with an assault rifle, a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, opened fire in the parking lot as a service was letting out. The girls’ father and two other people were wounded.

A volunteer security guard shot and wounded Murray, 24, before he turned the gun on himself. Twelve hours earlier and about 65 miles away, police said, Murray killed two staff members of the Youth With a Mission missionary training center in Arvada and wounded two others….

A Vietnam vet’s eyewitness account:

Larry Bourbonnais, a combat-tested Vietnam veteran, said it was the bravest thing he’s ever seen.

Bourbonnais, who was among those shot by a gunman Sunday at New Life Church, watched as a security guard, a woman later identified as Jeanne Assam, calmly returned fire and killed the shooter.

“She just started walking toward the gunman firing the whole way,” said Bourbonnais, who was shot in the arm. “She was just yelling ‘Surrender,’ walking and shooting the whole time.”

Bourbonnais, 59, was chowing down in the chuch cafeteria when he heard the shots. He headed in the direction of the gunfire, asking “where’s the shooter?”, as people ran past him.

Near an entryway in the church, Bourbonnais came upon the gunman and an armed male church security guard who was there with his gun drawn but not firing, he said.

“Give me your handgun. I’ve been in combat, and I’m going to take this guy out,” Bourbonnais recalled telling the guard. “He kept yelling, ‘Get behind me! Get behind me!’ He wouldn’t hand me his weapon, but he wouldn’t do anything.”

There was an additional armed security guard there, another man, who also didn’t fire, Bourbonnais said.

…Bourbonnais yelled at the gunman to draw his attention, he said.

“First, I called him ‘Coward’ then I called him ‘S—head’ ” Bourbonnais said. “I probably shouldn’t have been saying that in church.”

No, indeed, it only attracted the shooter’s attention:

That’s when the shooter pointed one of his guns at Bourbonnais and fired, he said.

Bourbonnais ducked behind a hollow, decorative pillar and was hit in the arm by a bullet and fragments of the pillar.

Enter our heroine:

Assam turned a corner with a drawn handgun, walked toward the gunman and yelled “Surrender!” Bourbonnais said.

The gunman pointed a handgun at Assam and fired three shots, Bourbonnais said. She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round.

After the gunman went down, Bourbonnais asked Assam, a volunteer security guard with the church, how she remained so calm and focused.

Bourbonnais said she replied:

“I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide me the entire time.”

JAG Lawyers and the Rule of Law

Every year I attend a seminar presented by the 6th JAG LSO in Seattle, Washington. In years past, the Army lawyers have discussed the procedures for dealing with WMD incidents on U.S. home soil and the chain of command during national emergencies. One component of the legal instruction is pure gold. The subject matter is broadly classified as Rule of Law- a big concept for JAG Corps lawyers, as it should be for all of us.

It may not be immediately obvious but the commitment to rule of law is what stabilizes a nation. The ability to honor contracts, respect minorities and manage conflict is what makes the difference between prosperous and peaceful societies and societies that descend into chaos. It just seems like prosperity, technological achievement and military might is the source of American power.

Actually, however, it is the integrity of our legal system that promotes economic and social stability. Financial systems, and social institutions in general, including the military and the courts are only as reliable as the people that keep their promises and stand in the gap where expectations link up with the so-called “social compact”. In other words, much depends on faith and trust, a covenant between people.

Everything the US wants to accomplish in Afghanistan and Iraq is going to hinge on the nuts and bolts of judicial administration. Iraq already has lawyers, well trained and eager to do their jobs with a great deal of legal code- French Civil Law imported to Iraq via Egypt.

Civil Law (or the Code Napolean) is inquisitorial; i.e., the Anglo-Saxon adversarial system with juries and lawyers doing battle by means of cross-examination does not exist in Iraq and much of the non-Anglo-Saxon world(including most European societies). Instead there are judicial investigators that report information to other judges that listen to arguments from the prosecution and defense lawyers. Police detectives, as we know them, are not a feature within the Iraqi criminal justice system.

But it takes years to put a judicial system together in a country like Iraq that has not had a functioning judiciary. Case management, rehabilitation and probation are all concepts that are being worked out in Iraq and there are military and civilian lawyers from the U.S. and other Western countries helping the Iraqi lawyers with the process. The first priority is to create security and that is clearly what has been happening. It goes without saying, that there is still a great deal to be accomplished.

At every level of the U.S. mission in Iraq, you can find military lawyers. They are interpreting the rules of engagement, advising commanders on how to deal with claims being made by Iraqis and representing the detainees and U.S. military personnel as defense counsel. There are JAG prosecutors and JAG Corps judges that deal with our own forces under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ via court martials and other procedures). They also represent detainees held in Guantanamo.

DRILLING FOR JUSTICE

Our government tracks 1100-1200 terror organizations that have lethal capability. By 2030 2.5 billion people will live in poverty. Our military deploys 651 JAG officers in 19 countries. JAG officers are lawyers that function in many ways, including missions to develop “Rule of Law”. In places like Iraq, Kosovo and the Congo, where institutions have broken down, success depends on courts, police and prisons working in ways that common citizens support. Failure to accomplish this ensures a failed state in which terrorism can thrive.

The subject of Rule of Law is a major component at most JAG seminars; this year, a general finally defined it. “We know it when we see it.” Since this is the same way that one U.S. Supreme Court justice defined pornography, there is precedent for such a definition.

JAG officers are admonished to “drill down” past the institutions and the written legal codes. The U.S. government spends a great deal of the taxpayers’ money training foreign judges, making deals with elite foreign constituencies- and failing to facilitate cultural change. The question is how to enfranchise women’s groups and encourage other minorities to demand justice without trying to remake foreign legal systems into the image of our own proud adversarial system.

In many countries, judges investigate facts with almost no involvement from juries, prosecutors and defense attorneys. Drilling down through complex bureaucracy, however, gives access to justice in places like Sierra Leone where they were recently cutting off children’s arms in order to control the lucrative market for “blood diamonds”?

The general exhorted his lawyer-soldiers to reach solid foundations. But can the Corps bypass mere “surface reform” and create groups of women, youth, and other minorities that demand justice in an environment that is rooted in oppression- oppression against those minorities to be empowered by Rule of Law? Especially in places like the Congo where women and babies have been systematically broken by sexual assault and intentional infliction of AIDS by marauding armies.

Perhaps, we have “drilled down” to cultural bedrock already in Iraq. Saddam Hussein previously had introduced secular-pluralism. Brutality is very successful in by-passing institutions that are hostile toward diversity; the Soviets proved that. But will such “drilling down” succeed in lesser-developed countries lacking the education and modern veneer that existed in Iraq when our forces arrived?

Progress made in Iraq started when the U.S. started arming and paying Sunnis to exercise their God-given, inalienable right to keep and bear arms against Al Qaeda and stop attacking us. Similar progress is beginning to occur in Afghanistan. What if the next time the Friends of the Taliban try to throw acid in a young girl’s face her teachers come out and shoot her assailants?

Do you think the new administration could buy guns for American citizens to “drill down” and stop violent criminals, terrorists and psychopaths at the schools when they attack here in King County? That would be real change! America’s gun culture would have come in real handy in Mumbai!

See JAG Warriors.

“Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. . . Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.” — Thomas Paine, Thoughts On Defensive War, 1775

See Second Amendment March.com

NFA Trusts Available for Washington Gun Owners

Many gun owners are interested in holding certain items that are restricted under the National Firearms Act. There are several advantages in using revocable trusts to hold weapons and other components that come under the purview of Title II of the NFA.

We are working with Apple Law Firm, PLLC to help interested gun owners get an NFA Trust in place. You may want to go to NFA Gun Trust Lawyer Blog to find out more.

You will need a Class III license to own a Title II weapon and the BATF will not permit ownership of weapons that violate Washington State and other states’ firearms laws. Thus, you need to know the laws in more than one jurisdiction if you are interested in obtaining suppressors, automatic weapons and any other weapons that are restricted under federal and state laws. As time goes on, we will start posting more articles on such subjects.

Generally a Firearms trust only works for the weapons or class 3 items that are legal in the state where they will be stored unless the state laws permit businesses and trusts to own but not individuals. In Washington, a trust would not allow an individual to purchase a machine gun, but it would permit them to purchase an AOW (a separate category of restricted weapons) without the permission of the CLEO (a specific local/state law enforcement officer required under federal law to approve possession of certain items) and give the additional protections that a trust can offer.

While you are checking out the links, click on the link to a recent article on Why the Second Amendment Matters published in our local Federal Way Mirror.

See also The Living Constitution?

Can the UN Repeal Your Washington State Gun Rights?

Medellín v Texas is a landmark that stands for freedom in the United States.

See United States

In recent years, some members of the U.S. Supreme Court have made attempts to meld U.S. law with foreign law. International norms are apparently a new prism through which U.S. Constitutional law should be interpreted, according to some justices.

For example, in criticizing the Court’s own previous decision upholding state laws against consensual sodomy, the Court stated:

Where a case’s foundations have sustained serious erosion, criticism from other sources is of greater significance. In the United States, criticism of Bowers has been substantial and continuing, disapproving of its reasoning in all respects, not just as to its historical assumptions. And, to the extent Bowers relied on values shared with a wider civilization, the case’s reasoning and holding have been rejected by the European Court of Human Rights, and that other nations have taken action consistent with an affirmation of the protected right of homosexual adults to engage in intimate, consensual conduct. There has been no showing that in this country the governmental interest in circumscribing personal choice is somehow more legitimate or urgent. Lawrence v Texas reversing Bowers v Hardwick

In the Lawrence v Texas decision, the majority opinion focused on global economics and world order as a justification for reversing an opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court delivered seventeen years before.

Medellin is a death penalty case but the Supreme Court did something more important than just deal with the issue of whether the State of Texas must give a psychopath a new trial. In Medellin, the strict-constructionist members of the Court put a death knell to the concept that international tribunals, treaties and legal usages are binding on states like Texas (and the State of Washington). For example, by holding as it did in Medellin- that international treaties and presidential orders do not trump state laws- the Court may have protected Americans from the UN Treaty on Small Arms that the UN is preparing to promote very heavily in the U.S. (the UN has been working on this agenda throughout the world- even as the UN remains a haven for genocidal regimes of every stripe). The “Progressives” who are up in arms against the Roberts Court are livid, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Though the case became a global cause célèbre, its sordid origins trace to 1993, when José Medellín, a Mexican national, murdered two Houston teenagers. He was sentenced to death by a Texas jury, but his lawyers argued on appeal that he hadn’t had access to Mexico’s consulate before he confessed to his crimes.

This was a violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention, which holds that diplomats are supposed to be notified when their nationals are arrested. In response, the U.S. government took steps to ensure states better comply in the future, both to fulfill its treaty obligations and serve the reciprocal interests of U.S. citizens detained abroad.

But Mexican authorities made the case a referendum on capital punishment and international legal norms, ultimately suing the U.S. in the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The ICJ ruled in Mexico’s favor, ordering states to give Medellín and some 51 other nationals new hearings. The question before the Supreme Court was whether such international dictates must be enforced by sovereign state courts. An affirmative answer might have gone a long way toward validating the expansive claims of liberal legal theorists that U.S. courts take instruction from the U.N., among other moral oases.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the 6-3 majority, ruled that the ICJ finding was not binding because the Vienna Convention is an understanding between governments. It is a diplomatic compact that was never intended to automatically create new individual rights enforceable domestically by international bodies. Texas’s violation was of diplomatic protocols, and calls for a diplomatic remedy.

Treaty provisions must be in accord with the plain meaning of the Constitution as it is written, not as some European-style socialists would have it to be. This distinction establishes a fire wall between international and domestic law. It also protects the core American Constitutional principles of federalism and the separation of powers.

Justice Roberts pointed out that courts must leave to the political branches the primary role in deciding when and how international agreements will be enforced.

Medellín v. Texas also swatted away a claim of Presidential power. According to the WSJ, the Bush Administration attempted to calm the diplomatic world by directing states to comply with the ICJ ruling in a 2005 executive order.

The Court ruled that the President’s power is limited by the Constitution. Authority to make treaty commitments does not extend to unilaterally asserting new state responsibilities or legal duties. The executive makes new laws subject to the legislature. The same crowd that is so suspicious of the Bush Administration’s claims of executive power, can’t wait to turn the executive powers over to international politicians who have already banned guns in most of Europe, Australia and Canada, to name a few!

Another safeguard provided by the Medellin case, is the safeguard against potential hate speech laws that chill your First Amendment freedoms. Hate speech laws are being used all over the Western World to silence criticism of Islam. If the multiculturalist crowd has its way, it could become a crime to make statements in the United States of America that violate hate crime laws like the laws enacted in Australia and Canada and many Western European nations. Hopefully we will continue to have Supreme Court Justices that recognize this kind of totalitarianism disguised as multiculturalism as a threat to liberty and free speech.

The Medellín majority has delivered a victory for the U.S. Constitution. For many years, the elite lawyers and politicians have been claiming that the Constitution is always changing based on the needs of each generation. This is not rule of law but an argument for tyranny which would interlineate international norms in place of bedrock Constitutional norms.

There are still many law professors and judges that think treaties supersede the U.S. Constitution. Hopefully the Medellin case has put such legal doctrines to rest! The decision went against the Bush Adminstration this time but if Medellin is reversed the next decision could impose UN-made laws that shut down our ability to conduct full debate on many important issues. Debate is often a strength that promotes new ways of dealing with threats and opportunities.

Ironically, we have President Bush to thank for men like Chief Justice Roberts and the other justices on the Court that read documents in plain English and just said NO to the Bush Administration’s overly aggressive claim of presidential power.

See also Perverting the Bill of Rights.

Restoring Gun Rights & Vacating Convictions

We handle employment discrimination, most criminal cases, including felonies, and firearms law. We can also help get some convictions vacated:

INSTRUCTIONS FOR VACATING MISDEMEANOR AND GROSS MISDEMEANOR CONVICTIONS

Washington law permits vacating some misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor convictions.

When the court vacates a conviction, you are released you from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense- but not from the prohibition against possessing firearms when you have been convicted of a felony or most crimes of domestic violence even if the conviction was for a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor.

Nevertheless, once a conviction is vacated, the fact that you have been convicted of the offense shall not be included in your criminal history for purposes of determining a sentence in any subsequent conviction. For all purposes, including responding to questions on employment or housing applications, a person whose conviction has been vacated may state that he or she has never been convicted of that crime. Vacation of a conviction, however, does not affect or prevent use of the conviction in a later criminal prosecution. Vacation of a conviction does not automatically restore your right to possess a firearm.

The law does not automatically vacate your conviction. If you want to have a conviction vacated, you must file a motion with the court. The following information will assist you in deciding whether the new law applies to your situation and, if so, how to ask the court to vacate your conviction.

If you meet the following criteria, a court may, in its discretion, vacate the conviction.

1. There are no criminal charges pending against you in any court of this state or another state, or in any federal court.

2. You have not been convicted of a new crime in this state, another state, or federal court since the date you were sentenced on the crime you wish to have vacated.

3. You have never had the record of another conviction vacated.

4. You are not currently restrained, and have not been restrained within five years prior to the vacation application, by a domestic violence protection order, a no-contact order, an antiharassment protection order, or a civil restraining order which restrains one party from contacting the other party.

5. The conviction you are seeking to have vacated is not for one of the following crimes:

Driving while under the influence, RCW 46.61.502;

Actual physical control while under the influence, RCW 46.61.504;

Operating a railroad, etc., while intoxicated, RCW 9.91.020;

A violation of chapter 9A.44 RCW (sex offenses);

A violation of chapter 9.68 RCW (obscenity and pornography);

A violation of chapter 9.68A RCW (sexual exploitation of children);

A violent offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 or an attempt to commit a violent offense.

If the crime you are seeking to have vacated involved domestic violence, you must:

Provide the prosecuting attorney’s office that prosecuted you with timely notice of your motion and declaration for order vacating conviction and file the original notice with the court.

You must not have been convicted of any other domestic violence offense arising out of any other incident. (If the current application is for more than one conviction that arose out of a single incident, none of those convictions counts as a previous conviction.)

Five years have elapsed since you completed the terms of the original conditions of the sentence, including any financial obligations and successful completion of any treatment ordered as a condition of sentencing.

If the victim of the crime you are seeking to have vacated did not involve domestic violence, three years must have elapsed since you completed the terms of the original conditions of the sentence, including any financial obligations.

If you can satisfy each of the above requirements with respect to the conviction you are asking the court to vacate, your next step is to complete the form CrRLJ 09.0100, Motion and Declaration for Order Vacating Conviction. This form will allow the court to determine whether you are eligible to have your conviction vacated. You may want to review the court file or the court docket for the offense you are asking the court to vacate to obtain information you need to fill out the form.

You should also obtain copies of your criminal history records and attach them to your motion. Read the local court rules or contact the clerk of the court where you will file your motion to find out if this requirement, or any other local requirement, applies to you. Once you have completed and signed the motion and declaration form, make at least two copies.

The next step is to schedule a hearing for the motion for order vacating conviction. To schedule a hearing, contact the clerk of the court where you were sentenced and ask for the date and time for the hearing. Then complete the form that court uses to schedule a hearing. Make at least two copies of the notice.

File the original motion and declaration for order vacating conviction and notice document. On the same day that you file those documents with the clerk of the court, you must also provide a copy of the documents to the prosecuting attorney’s office that prosecuted you.

To notify the prosecuting attorney’s office of the hearing, you may also use form CrRLJ 09.0150, Notice of Motion for Order Vacating Conviction. If you use this form, file the original with the clerk of the court and provide a copy to the prosecuting attorney’s office, with a copy of the Motion and Declaration for Order Vacating Conviction attached. Keep a copy of the motion and declaration for order vacating conviction and the notice documents for your information.

The judge will hear your motion for order vacating conviction on the day scheduled for the hearing. You will need to attend the hearing. If the motion is granted, the judge will complete an order vacating your conviction. The clerk of the court will send a copy of the order to the Washington State Patrol and to the local law enforcement agency, if any, which holds criminal history information about you.

Keep in mind that vacating a conviction does not restore your right to possess weapons in Washington. We can petition the court to restore your rights provided you meet all the criteria under RCW 9.41.040:

(4)…Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, if a person is prohibited from possession of a firearm under subsection (1) or (2) of this section and has not previously been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a sex offense prohibiting firearm ownership under subsection (1) or (2) of this section and/or any felony defined under any law as a class A felony or with a maximum sentence of at least twenty years, or both, the individual may petition a court of record to have his or her right to possess a firearm restored:

b)(i) If the conviction or finding of not guilty by reason of insanity was for a felony offense, after five or more consecutive years in the community without being convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity or currently charged with any felony, gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor crimes, if the individual has no prior felony convictions that prohibit the possession of a firearm counted as part of the offender score under RCW 9.94A.525; or

(ii) If the conviction or finding of not guilty by reason of insanity was for a nonfelony offense, after three or more consecutive years in the community without being convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity or currently charged with any felony, gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor crimes, if the individual has no prior felony convictions that prohibit the possession of a firearm counted as part of the offender score under RCW 9.94A.525 and the individual has completed all conditions of the sentence.

Terrorism, Safety and Situational Awareness

http://www.swatdigest.com

When the first aircraft struck the World Trade Center what were your thoughts? Was terrorism your first thought? Or, was your first thought more like “How could that happen?” The first crash caught most people trying to figure out what human or mechanical error could have caused the crash. However, a little over 15 minutes later and the instant Flight 175 came into view we knew we were under attack. As the jet slammed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center our view changed and the response of police and fire personnel to the WTC and the other incidents changed.

Our response changed because the additional information of the second aircraft changed our perception regarding the first. Our perceptions moved closer to the reality because additional information gave meaning and enhanced our comprehension of what we were observing. By gaining additional information we became aware of the true nature of the situation.

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness was a term originally used to describe the tactical situation during aerial combat. While the term doesn’t go back as far, the idea surfaces in World War I, when pilots first took to the sky in combat. At first, it was the ability of the pilot to know where he was in relation to the enemy and the other pilots of his flight. In reality that is only positional awareness. However, when pilots added their knowledge of aircraft capabilities and known battle tactics with positional awareness, they were able interpret, comprehend and anticipate. Comprehension of observation is the essence of situational awareness.

Police officers use situational awareness daily. While it has obvious applications for street tactics, it is likely most used in the development of reasonable suspicion (RS) and probable cause (PC). Both RS and PC are an officer’s interpretation of observations based on their education, training and experience. Whenever you detain someone, conduct a warrantless search or make an arrest you are practicing situational awareness. Just as you and I were able to make better arrests as we gained knowledge on the job, we were also safer. Our safety was enhanced because there is a predictive element to total situational awareness.

Situational awareness has three levels – perceiving critical factors, understanding those factors and finally understanding what those factors will cause to happen in the near future. Just as we gained an edge over the common criminal element by education, training and experience, we can gain that edge over terrorists by enhancing our comprehension of what we observe as it relates to terrorism. We can protect our communities and ourselves by an enhanced situational awareness of terrorism.

Know what terrorism is

In the first article of this series, Terrorism: Crime or Asymmetrical Warfare, we noted that the “the definition of a crime dictates our response.” In that article we further explored the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s definition of terrorism:

“ Domestic terrorism refers to activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and, occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States .”

You will increase your situational awareness, or the ability to use your comprehension of the facts to predict short-term future events, by understanding the history and nature of terrorism.

Know your beat

If you received a radio call of a shooting on the southwest corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Central Avenue you would have some positional awareness, but not much situational awareness. You would know the best route to get to the call, and probably the best way to approach, but little more. However, what if you knew the location was an apartment building rife with druggies? Alternatively, what if you knew the location was a Jewish Daycare Center? Either set of facts would add to your situational awareness, it would change the way in which you handled your approach and the call.

Most of the literature for first responders on terrorism emphasizes the need to be aware of the critical infrastructure in your community. However, how you define critical infrastructure may somewhat limit your situational awareness. As an example, the Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets: Definition and Identification report to Congress ultimately defined critical infrastructure as:

“The framework of interdependent network and systems comprising identifiable industries, institutions (including people and procedures), and distribution capabilities that provide a reliable flow of products and services essential to the defense and economic security of the United States, the smoothing function of government at all levels, and society as a whole .”

Based on this definition, bridges, chemical factories and government facilities, etc. are part of the critical infrastructure. However, given the purpose of terrorism, first responders should be aware of their community’s political, social and cultural infrastructure. The Jewish Daycare Center probably doesn’t fall into the category of critical infrastructure, yet it would be part of your community’s social and cultural infrastructure and in today’s world a potential terrorist target.

The following list of indicators is a checklist that is by no-means all-inclusive. It should be viewed as a place from which to start your discussion about terrorist planning:

1. Possession of extremist or radical literature;
2. Interest in law enforcement tactics, yet not in law enforcement;
3. Surveillance of critical infrastructure, or community political, cultural or social infrastructure;
4. Possession or attempts to obtain surveillance or planning materials, i.e., maps, photographs, blueprints, cameras, surveillance equipment;
5. Possession or attempts to obtain materials for improvised explosive devices i.e., chemicals, timers, wires or other components;
6. Possession (or the attempt to obtain fraudulently) identification documents;
7. The rental, or attempt to rent, storage units or a living space for a large group of people;
8. Economical and non-descript lifestyle;
9. The abandonment of typical cultural identifiers such as facial hair or clothing;
10. No interest in learning English; and,
11. Relationships with suspicious groups.
Note: This checklist is by no-means all-inclusive. It should be viewed as a place from which to start your discussion about terrorist planning.

Since 1996 the State Department has issued an annual report on patterns of global terrorism. Between 1996 and 2004, the varying reports list well over one hundred different foreign terrorist organizations. Furthermore, this does not include the large number of domestic terrorist or potential domestic terrorist groups and individuals. Clearly, it is impossible for the first responder to have an in-depth knowledge about the all the potential threats. Similarly, in Los Angeles it would be difficult to have an in-depth understanding of every gang; however, it would be possible to understand enough about gang members in order to increase your situational awareness. In order to increase our situational awareness, we want to understand some overarching principles about terrorists:

• For the terrorist, the end justifies the means. The result is that no matter how bad the act, if the terrorist perceives the act as moving toward their goal, they do not consider the impact of the act on the individual or groups. Their only concern is the impact of the act on their end goal.

• The planning and execution of most terrorist acts seems to indicate that first responders are dealing with criminals that have an above average intelligence and are tactically astute. Research indicates that many terrorist leaders come from middle class families and are relatively well-educated.

• The point of terrorism is always publicity for the cause, through terror. Think of it this way – in war, the point of a mine field is to slow or stop enemy progression; with terrorism, the point of an improvised explosive device along a highway is to gain publicity for the cause.

• The target and the victim need not be the same. On September 11th, the victims who were killed or injured were not the targets. The United States government was the target. This concept reinforces the idea that for every terrorist – the end justifies the means.

Know current intelligence

The current national system for a terrorist alert is almost too general to be of much use to the average first responder. There have been, however, instances when the Department of Homeland Security has issued alerts that were specific enough to be useful. An alert that says that financial institutions in a specific region should be in a higher state of preparedness is specific enough for the first responder to take action. Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security not only issues alerts, but general recommendations for action based on those alerts. Every first responder should have a good grasp of how a heightened alert impacts their assignment.

One of the most common deliver methods of explosives is through the use of a vehicle. Some of the indicators may be:

• Vehicles that have a strong chemical smell, or the scent of something burning coming from them;
• Signs of recent body work, especially of poor quality, or with patches welded to the cab or body of the truck;
• Extra fuel tanks or extra antennas, or recent signs of a reinforced suspension;
• Inappropriate license plates or misspelled artwork or badly executed stencil painting;
• Heavily tinted windows, particularly if used in an unusual manner (for example, if the front screen of a delivery truck is tinted); and,
• Signs that the vehicle is heavily over-loaded on its suspension.
One of the problems with American law enforcement is that we tend to “stove-pipe” critical communications. That is, we send information up and down a specific chain of command, often failing a timely dissemination of the information to where it is most needed. You can work to short-circuit this by developing your own sources of information. Whether you subscribe to the Department of Defense e-mail briefings, the State Department email advisories or any one of the great public sources of Open Source Intelligence, you should find a source of information that you continually and regularly consult for intelligence on the latest trends in terrorism.

Total situational awareness is gained through increased comprehension of what we observe. It results in a greater ability to make short-term predictions about what is going to happen and therefore make decisions regarding our response. Comprehension is gained through education, training and experience. If you attain total situational awareness you will be better able to prevent, respond and apprehend.

“© 2007 http://www.police-writers.com reprinted with permission”

About the Author
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA is author of Police Technology (Prentice Hall, July 2004), and co-author of Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style (Quill Driver Books, August 2006), From NYPD to LAPD: An Introduction to Policing (Prentice Hall, July 2007), over fifty articles on technology, policing, leadership and terrorism and a dozen educational websites like http://www.police-writers.com. Raymond can be reached at raymond@hitechcj.com or through his blog at http://www.terrorism-online.blogspot.com.