Cedar Posts is pleased to share this with you. Unsolicited but frank discussion concerning the time at hand and the potential dangers our Officers face.
As each of us are glaringly aware, we are on the eve of substantial news and events.
The Kerrick verdict, whether one of conviction or acquittal for voluntary manslaughter will signify to each of us, perhaps in a varied, unique way, the state of our society, the police department, the criminal justice system, and government.
This will take the form of an opinion, which we are each entitled to, and will likely drive our perceptions and future actions to some degree.
This sequence of events and processes is not exclusive to CMPD officers. Citizens are closely watching this trial and awaiting the verdict, some supporting a conviction for a myriad of reasons, others supporting Kerrick.
These opinions can and will be rooted in fact in many instances, though others will inject emotion to ignore those same facts in forming their respective opinions. This cannot be changed, and is to be expected.
What I wish to convey is not to choose a side or offer an opinion on what should occur when the jury reaches a decision (though I’m very much for dismissal), but instead to discuss the implications for the individual officer in the field and off duty should they agree that Wes Kerrick was justified in his use of force.
Before I move further into the topic, I will say this: I am not a law enforcement officer, nor have I ever been. However, I do hold multiple degrees/certifications in related fields and have conducted sponsored academic research in the fields of criminal justice, multiple areas of law, interagency response operations, communications, physical security, terrorism and homeland security.
I am certain your supervisors have poised you to be aware of and respond to protests, civil disobedience, uncivil disobedience, and an increase in property crime and violence should Officer Kerrick’s case be dismissed. While I am certain the advice and guidance given on how to cope with these circumstances is sound, I wish to discuss another aspect of officer safety and situational awareness.
While many protesters will disperse, comply, or otherwise be a “non-threat,” some will assert themselves as agitators and will be met with appropriate actions. While protesters can be broken into these two main categories, there is a third type of subversive that is commonly referred to as the “lone wolf.” I am sure all of you are familiar with this term, but I mention it to underscore the fact that this loner is often more difficult to detect, more calculating, and may target officers at a time and place of their choosing. This is in contrast to the protestor, who will gather in a public, symbolic space—such as the courthouse or LEC to make his or her statement.
Existing research indicates that lone wolves, like terrorists choose the path of least resistance (and greatest effectiveness) in their attacks. Typically, this means one wishing to cause harm to civilians will find crowded urban areas, such as downtown, markets, transportation hubs, etc. to begin shooting or to detonate an explosive device.
Interestingly enough, when a government authority, such as a political figure or police officer is the target, the trend in (attack) location selection is the opposite of that for a civilian. To simply put it, you are safest when downtown, at a protest, or at a transportation hub. You are most vulnerable in isolated areas: on patrol alone, zone checks, or at your home or running errands are a few examples of these isolated areas. In these locations, targets are not hard, and cover, concealment, and egress is often adequate or favorable for the attacker.
I am long winded so I will try to make the next few bits as concise as possible:
Public records (property, salary databases), internet queries (church and club affiliations, craigslist ads, databases that yield possible spouse names), social media accounts and news or social media stories featuring information about officers are all useful forms of open source intelligence for an adversary to potentially use against you.
Anything you say over the radio off of conference, to include using personal phone numbers, zone checks (many of you like the same ones over and over), and the use of common names to save time all provide signals intelligence which can be used with open source sets of information to identify you, predict your movements, determine your area of operation (off duty), and your affiliations within your community.
These pieces of information, when pieced together, allow an adversary to “research” you to figure out when you are most vulnerable, thus increasing their ability to attack you without detection or capture.
I will not explain the nuances of collecting data and processing it to yield your full name, phone number, address, wife’s name, response area, unit number and common zone checks, but it is manageable for a motivated individual. It only takes patience to create a set of actionable data which will aid an adversary in target selection and ambush. I took a look at this, collected the data, analyzed it for a potential research topic, and the ease of the process scared me. To explain these elements more openly and with greater detail would be to provide a “how to guide” for an adversary, which I am very much against.
So, here is the short list of advice for personal security on and off duty as it pertains to these topics:
1. Keep those personal phone numbers off the air.
2. Keep those personal names off the air.
3. If you must use these, use conference or message, but nothing is 100% secure.
4. Don’t use first names in public (when in uniform). It is just another easy source of
5. Clean up your social media accounts.
6. If your wife’s social media account isn’t up to par, #5 doesn’t matter. Same goes for mom, dad, sister, friends, etc.
7. Make sure your golfing club, church, etc. doesn’t have your name listed online as an usher, player, volunteer etc. with your name, address and phone number.
8. Don’t call in off duty gigs on the open channel. Do you really want someone to have 3-5 hours to get in position and figure out how to ambush you?
9. Change up your zone checks. I know on any given night I can take a right off Eastway onto Central an there will be an officer in that church parking lot.
10. If you want to take a personal break, smoke, use your phone, or chat with someone, have reasonable cover and concealment. If a clear line of sight to you is 50 yards or more in an urban area, you are a rifleman’s dream.
11. Remember, a good choke point for a checkpoint, traffic stop, or natural terminus of a chase (ie, a dead end) is also a great ambush point. Don’t walk into one blind.
As an aside to #11, it was made public by MCSO on social media tonight that 2711 Randolph will be the location of a checkpoint tonight (8/20/15). I was in the area and decided I’d cruise by, knowing it was too early for them to be up and running. So I drove down and saw nothing, turned around, drove back up Randolph. Then I saw the units staging. They paid no mind to their surroundings, the ridge above the opposing side of the road, the tree line, or the fact that they held the low ground. Lone wolves and active shooters won’t act alone forever.
I could go on with this topic, but I think I’ve hit the key notes and done my bit. Originally this was casual research for a potential publication, but I think the best use is to report this information to the end user and move on to something else.
Stay safe out there.