On January 3, 2020 in Austin:
Police say the suspect assaulted a customer at a coffee shop “for no apparent reason,” then ran to a nearby restaurant where he stabbed two people, before climbing up and jumping off the roof of the building.
I don’t want to talk about how this was seemingly random violent crime occurring at 8 AM on a Friday in a “good part” of town. I want to talk about how immediate response saves lives.
Local NBC affiliate KXAN published an article with the title: “Police say civilian intervention was ‘helpful’ in South Congress stabbing, experts encourage training“. Refreshing to see this in the mainstream media.
Austin police credit Bennu Coffee customers for trying to subdue a suspect who later was accused of stabbing two people Friday, possibly preventing more violence.
“It was extremely important that they intervened and got involved and detained the individual,” said APD Sgt. David Daniels. “We don’t recommend individuals getting involved in a situation, but they chose to do that. And, it was helpful.”
It’s understandable APD isn’t going to recommend it. What’s good to see is the acknowledgement that swift decisive intervention – BY THE PEOPLE RIGHT THERE RIGHT THEN – helped stop bad things from continuing to happen.
Experts at Texas State University tell KXAN the average response time for police is three minutes.
I don’t know where they got their average. Latest data (Oct 2019) on APD response time for a “lights & sirens” top-priority call is an average of 8 minutes – up 10% from last year. And that’s average… your call may take longer. Couple that with fewer officers, the fast-rising Austin population and traffic, you better expect your call WILL take longer.
(Updated: on 2020-01-11 we learned it took APD 20 minutes to respond to this incident).
I don’t know how you regard three minutes (or maybe 8 minutes), as a lot or a little bit of time. But consider it’s basically the length of a typical song. So pick your favorite song – actually, pick a pop song you don’t like so we don’t create negative association. Now play that song. Listen to it from beginning to end with no pausing, no stopping short. When the song starts playing, imagine someone punching you in the face… maybe punching along with the beat. And I don’t mean friendly punches, but say Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather Jr. unleashing on you. Until the song is over. When the song ends, that’s when police show up to stop the beating.
That’s a long time. How much pain do you think you’ll be in? Or maybe not pain, but in the hospital? Dead?
Let’s try the same experiment, but this time you’ve got your biggest baddest friend in the other room. As soon as the music – and the punching – starts, your friend can rush in and stop the beating. Not much time will have passed, nor many punches thrown. I don’t know how much pain you’ll be in, but I’m sure it will be far less than the first scenario.
Let’s try the same experiment again. But this time, you know how you box, or at least dodge and weave and duck and run. When the music starts, you fight back. How does that change the outcome?
The ability to respond immediately (minimization of wait time) makes a BIG difference.
ALERRT emphasizes the need for civilian response training to better respond to mass attacks, teaching tactics on how to avoid and defend yourself in such situations. Since its inception, ALERRT estimates its training has been taught to at least 400,000 civilians nationwide.
“Sometimes it’s not a decision,” ALERRT Assistant Director John Curnutt added. “The decision has been made for you, because it is happening. You are going to do something or not. You are going to own a situation, or it’s going to own you. That’s the only option you have at that point.”
We all prefer to make our own choices and dislike when choices are made for us. But well-adjusted folks know sometimes life makes choices for us – how we respond to what life throws at us is what it’s all about, and the more we can do to be prepared to handle life’s eventualities makes a big difference.
Look… I’m not saying everyone needs to buy and carry guns. If that’s not your thing, that’s fine.
What I am saying is, you’ve been on this Earth long enough to know “shit happens”. And when it does, typically the sooner it can be addressed, the better the outcome. Why do you think it’s so important to learn CPR? Why is it a good idea to have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers? Can you look back on your life and think of a time where if you were just a little better prepared, some bad situation could have turned out better?
So if this means in 2020 you finally get certified in CPR, excellent! Or if after reading this you go change the batteries on your smoke detectors, great! And if it means you want to carry pepper spray, or become proficient with firearms, that’s fine too. The bottom line is working to make yourself a better and more capable person. So when the inevitable shit happens and you’re Johnny-on-the-spot, YOU will be able to make that positive difference instead of waiting for someone else to hopefully make the save.
Make yourself better.
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