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Old November 9, 2008, 07:52 PM   #151
OldMarksman
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From Buckhammer:
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Good thing you didn't just sit tight
Humor, I suppose, or do I miss your point?

You have undoubtedly noted that I was not "clearing a house," nor was I "investigating a noise." I knew that there was a fight going on and that at least my mother was endangered. I went to her aid. I knew that the intruder was occupied with violence and not with looking out for an approaching homeowner. Fortunately he was alone.

I have related what happened. Whether I did the wise thing I do not know, but based on what I saw when I got there and on the outcome, I think so. I did not think I had a reasonable choice.

But if someone or something is making noise in the house, and if the family is secure, I do have a choice, and the wise one is to not venture forth into a situation in which I am likely to be ambushed.

See the point?
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Old November 10, 2008, 01:00 PM   #152
David Armstrong
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I do have a choice
That's the key, IMO. Goes back to "there are noises and then there are NOISES" sort of thing. Recognizing the noise as "a family member in trouble" is very different from "what was that thump outside?" Each suggests a different choice as the preferred response.
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Old November 10, 2008, 01:50 PM   #153
chrisp0410
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Gee whiz gang, I step away for a while and we've gone from going outside to check a noise to "clearing the house" indoors.

Since I've had to do this whilst living alone I'll throw my 3-cents worth into the pot. First and most important...

No matter what you do, nothing will go quite to plan.

The townhome I live in has a door to the garage that connects to the house via the short hall to the master bath (I didn't design the damn thing). One night in the wee hours (so called because that's when you need to wee the most) I heard something fall inside the garage. I rolled over in bed, in my BVD's with my machismo running on high, reached over, wrapped my hand around the 1911 and as I move to get out of bed, I realize that my left arm, which I'd been sleeping on, is entirely numb. So much for an icosolese stance. Off balance, with the numb arm, I fling my legs out of bed and.... slammed the 2nd toe of my left foot into the square edge of a chair leg next to the bed! #&%$!!

So now, I'm awake. I suck air, bite my lip and hobble two steps to realize... I'm nearly blind. I can't open my right eyelid because it's stuck to the bottom one. Quickly wipe my eye and I can see. I can see well enough to see both cats curled up on the opposite foot of the bed looking at me like "What the heck are you doin?" I hobble to the door and listen and realize that I'm listening to my heart beating like Gene Krupa playing Sing Sing Sing on his drums. After a couple of slow deep breaths to calm myself, I listen again to... nothing.

Just as I half convince myself I imagined the whole thing and reach for the door knob I hear a small thump and the sound of an empty soda can tipping over on the floor. Mentally I exclaim "Ah-ha! I know exactly where that is! I left that can next to the toolbox!" I turn the door knob, fling the door wide open and snap on the lightswitch to the garage.

Now... I wanted my voice to sound like a mixture of John Wayne and Ward Bond when I shouted "Don't Move! Who's out there?" Instead, what came out sounded more like a frightened Don Knotts going through puberty. Even I wasn't impressed. Fortunately, after about four seconds of scanning the garage two things became apparent. First (and most importantly) the source of the noise became apparent as my 3rd cat timidly stuck his head around the corner of the toolbox and blurted out a questioning "Prrrrilll?" Second was that in my effort to assume a good crouching stance, something was hanging out of my very non-tactical BVD's.

Had this been a real alert, I figure that any bad guy would have dropped to the floor in a fit of hysterical laughter at a wide-eyed, pudgy old guy who resembles Wilford Brimley wearing white boxers with "Mr. Happy" swinging in the breeze and holding a gun.

The moral of this lesson is...
Think before you act. Do not rush into a confrontation before you are ready. If it's a strange noise outside, use every means at your disposal to identify it without going outside. Your goal is to identify if there really is something worth reporting to 9-1-1, not to apprehend someone.
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Old November 10, 2008, 06:34 PM   #154
BuckHammer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldMarksman
Humor, I suppose, or do I miss your point?
You got me. Just trying to be funny.
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Old November 11, 2008, 06:43 AM   #155
BillCA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Armstrong
That's the key, IMO. Goes back to "there are noises and then there are NOISES" sort of thing. Recognizing the noise as "a family member in trouble" is very different from "what was that thump outside?" Each suggests a different choice as the preferred response.
That's hitting the nail on the head. And it addresses my much earlier comment about "one size fits all" responses to the issue of hearing noises.

Type 1 noises are things like breaking doors or glass, family members in trouble, voices of strangers close by, argumentative voices, etc. These are generally "obvious trouble" noises.

Type 2 noises are those that may be someone stealing from your property or trying to get in. They indicate something unusual. The sound of a car door closing, the clank of a wrench or tool, a window squeaking, etc. Yet these same noises may be "innocent" noises made by a neighbor or some other legitimate reason (such as a an animal snooping by the tool shed).

Type 3 noises are those that you generally dismiss unless they repeat or have some unusual quality. House creaks, branches scraping a window on a windy night, a small thumping noise accompained by the sound of the cat's bell, all of these you normally ignore.

It is those Type-2 noises we check out before calling 911. They could have innocent origins, such as your neighbors coming home late at night. We are all glad when our fears are unfounded when it is something "normal". None of us wants to waste the time of our police. Nor call them without checking and later listen to a neighbor describe how they were proned out on their own wet grass in their finest evening wear after returning from the Opera.
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Old November 11, 2008, 10:18 AM   #156
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillCA
It is those Type-2 noises we check out before calling 911. They could have innocent origins, such as your neighbors coming home late at night....
It may come down to how sure you are that it's something innocent. Because that still takes us back to the fundamental reality that it it's not something innocent, and if the BG is willing to engage you, you are at a substantial disadvantage and will probably come to harm.

It's your call.
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Old November 11, 2008, 11:09 AM   #157
OldMarksman
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From Fiddletown:
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It may come down to how sure you are that it's something innocent. Because that still takes us back to the fundamental reality that it it's not something innocent, and if the BG is willing to engage you, you are at a substantial disadvantage and will probably come to harm.
Yes indeed! The extent to which I will "check out" a noise that may indicate that someone may be stealing from my property, for example, does not include anything that would put me at risk.

I don't see any reasonable approach other than listening further, without exposing myself to risk. The primary risk is that of being ambushed, of course, but if one's concept of checking something out involves going forth with a firearm, other key risks involve shooting an innocent person or being charged with a gun crime. All for the sake of property.

None of the foregoing would be to my liking.

I speak as a civilian. A policeman within his own jurisdiction would have different obligations and indemnities and frankly, would be better trained. The extent of any action he might take without calling for help? Perhaps an LEO might care to comment.
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Old November 11, 2008, 11:20 AM   #158
David Armstrong
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Perhaps an LEO might care to comment.
I'm retired, but you might note that it is usually the LEOs and former LEOs that are the most adamant about not going out to check the noise or clear the house. That should tell you something.
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Old November 12, 2008, 05:32 AM   #159
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I'm retired, but you might note that it is usually the LEOs and former LEOs that are the most adamant about not going out to check the noise or clear the house. That should tell you something.
Of course there's a downside to this too. If people call without attempting to verify the noise is legitimate (neighbor taking out his trash for instance) then we tie up a lot of police resources on bad calls. Simply peeking outside may give us enough information to return to bed and not call the PD. If it can't be identified and really did sound like a prowler/thief, then by all means call the Gendarmes.

Another downside is the "Cry Wolf" syndrome. It's often associated with the elderly. Here in the SFBA when I was studying LE in college, a local agency had an elderly woman named Giselle who would usually call once or twice a week hearing "prowlers" around her place. Typically the noise would come from an gate she forgot to secure, the wind knocking garbage can lids off, cats mating/fighting, a broken branch of some bush rubbing a wall or window. that sort of thing. The police were nice to her because she was a widow, in her 80's and carried a number tattooed on her forearm.

But you've guessed the downside, haven't you? One night a veteran officer got the call, drove by and saw nothing. He parked two houses away and on foot checked the house out. His backup was another 30 seconds away when he frantically radioed "Code 30! Shots fired! I've been shot!" His career ended that night with a .45 Colt round shattering his collarbone and lodging in his left shoulder socket. The 19 year old perp tried to get his Python but got the officer's fingers in his eyes and fled. Fortunately a responding unit caught him, still holding the Ruger SA and he gave it up without a fight. When it was over, there were 26 police units from 4 different agencies in front of the house. The officer had let his guard down entering the back yard, expecting a cat, dog or some other simple explanation. Only this time it was a real intruder.
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Old November 12, 2008, 10:28 AM   #160
OldMarksman
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From BillCA:
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If people call without attempting to verify the noise is legitimate (neighbor taking out his trash for instance) then we tie up a lot of police resources on bad calls.
I'm afraid I don't understand why one would feel the need to call the police simply because he did not know a noise to be "legitimate." I would not call unless there were a pretty compelling indication that there was a need, and I doubt they would dispatch anyone on a priority basis unless I could articulate same.

Quote:
Simply peeking outside may give us enough information to return to bed and not call the PD.
I'll peek and I'll listen, and I'll go back to bed. But if I have heard a noise and I just don't know what it was, I don't see why I should worry about calling the police, and I don't think it worth spending any detective effort. There was a guy out back building a deck at all hours for about a year and a half with all kinds of banging and slamming; all kinds of sounds occur the night before trash day. Car doors open and shut at any hour. All of these things get the dog barking, and I peek and I listen, but unless something continues that indicates an intrusion, I simply ignore them.
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Old November 12, 2008, 06:04 PM   #161
David Armstrong
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Of course there's a downside to this too. If people call without attempting to verify the noise is legitimate (neighbor taking out his trash for instance) then we tie up a lot of police resources on bad calls.
I don't think anyone is saying to do that. There is a lot of difference between verifying if a noise is legitimate and going out, or clearing a house. Nothing wrong with checking, lots wrong with checking to the extent you put yourself in danger needlessly. And I also don't think anyone is saying call the police every time you hear a noise.
Quote:
The officer had let his guard down entering the back yard, expecting a cat, dog or some other simple explanation. Only this time it was a real intruder.
Not sure what that has to do with this. Officers get complacent all the time. Sometimes they pay a pretty heavy price for it.
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