February 21, 2013

To Fight Back or Not During an Attack? Our Thoughts...

The question is often posed to the police department, “Do you recommend people fight back during an attack?”  This is a complex question that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” response.  

This morning's edition of The Sentinel had a line in their article that indicated "police" do not recommend people fight back.  While the comment was not specifically attributed to Santa Cruz PD, in light of the comment in the article and the circumstances of yesterday’s attack, we wanted to make our position clear on this matter.   

Here are our thoughts on this question:

The decision to fight back or not is a deeply personal one that can only be made by the person experiencing the attack.  There is not one universal answer for all people in all situations.  Each person has a different comfort level with their own capabilities to resist or survive an attack.  Each set of circumstances is different and poses unique challenges. We do recommend prioritizing your decision in this way:

  1. Survive the attack.  Above all, do what you have to do to survive, and minimize harm to yourself
  2. Escape harm.  Get yourself out of harms-way as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
  3. Observe.  Finally, be a good witness.  Give the police the information they need to identify a suspect and put together a good case for prosecution. 

 When considering whether to “fight back” consider these points:

  • What are the risks and potential harm of fighting versus the risk and harm of cooperating?  
  • What are your capabilities and comfort with your fighting skills?  What are you prepared to do?
  • What are the suspect’s capabilities?  Are you overpowered or outnumbered? Are they armed or could they disarm you? 

These are decisions that only the person involved in the attack, in the moment can make.  While we wish no one had to experience an attack, the fact is, there are people out there intent on doing harm in our community.  We encourage you to think about these points and consider what you would do if you found yourself in this situation. 
Know that the men and women of the Santa Cruz Police Department are working tirelessly to keep our community safe and to solve the crimes that have occurred.

As always, feel free to ask us questions and seek clarification on these matters.  Stay Safe!