Make sure you’re secure, vigilant |

Make sure you’re secure, vigilant

John Hefner

Hello Johnson Laners,

This month I would like to address security. Recently the Valley has experienced a great deal of tragedy. We have lost two lives in a boating accident, one in an ATV accident and two victims of homicide. The first three could fill an entire page by themselves. However, in this column I want to address the homicides. First off, my condolences to the families of all the victims. We never expect to lose loved ones so quickly and when it happens it hits the families very hard. May God comfort you and give you peace during this troubling time.

Many are on edge and asking what they can do to protect themselves. The gun stores have been overrun with residents purchasing guns and ammo and stocking up. This is not about gun control as I have several myself. What is important is that if you are going to become a gun owner that you do so responsibly. If you have never owned or handled a gun before, make sure you do your research and find the one that works for you. Make sure it fits your hand. Having the biggest most powerful cannon in your hand can be worthless if you have trouble handling it. Perhaps the most important thing you need to do is take some gun safety courses. Yes, you can view all kinds of videos online but there is nothing like a real person going through the safe operation of your weapon. They can point out bad habits in the beginning so you become familiar with the huge responsibility that comes with owning a gun. You will need to go out to the range and become familiar with how the gun fires and its effects on you. Never ever pull the trigger unless you know what you are shooting at and why.

After your target practice take the time to clear the weapon and do a proper cleaning. This requires reading the manual or going through the take down with an instructor. Far to often we hear of gun accidents when someone was trying to clean their gun. Do not become a statistic, get to know your weapon it is not a toy. Once cleaned make sure you put it away in a safe and secure place away from children and teenagers. If you are going to keep it near you in the bedroom make sure you put it in a safe that is easy to access. I won’t get into the debate here about having one in the chamber. That is for you to discuss with your instructor and make up your own mind. If you have children at home please make sure your weapons are in a locked safe and they do not have access. The biometric safes work very well and I would recommend you consider them.

Let’s discuss the definition of vigilant.

We here it from the Sheriff’s Office all the time. Being vigilant isn’t a term used lightly but you shouldn’t be scared out of your mind either. It is simply taking extra steps to be cautious. Webster’s states that vigilant is: “alertly watchful specially to avoid danger.”

What things can we to do be more vigilant? First off Sheriff Coverley has recommended locking your doors at all times. This includes your vehicle doors as well. Do not answer the door if you do not know the person knocking. Get yourself a video doorbell to help with this task. There are many available. You can talk with the person without opening the door, you don’t even have to be in the same country! Make sure your family and friends know your whereabouts. The phone is the best method for this verse posting everything on social media. In fact, posting on social media should be curtailed as part of your vigilance. If you have a cell phone keep it with you at all times and keep the battery charged up. If you do get into a circumstance that concerns you, you will want that battery full.

When approaching your car check the backseat before you open the doors. You should also be familiar with your car remote. Many will have a red button that you can push if you are in range of the car. That red button is the panic button. If you push it your alarm will start going off and it should scare off any would-be attackers. If you park in your garage shut your garage door behind you. This one is particularly difficult for me to remember.

Perhaps the most important thing about being vigilant is understanding situational awareness. If you are skipping to your car whistling Dixie then you are probably not being very situationally aware. Situational awareness is sampling paying attention to the things that are going on around you. When walking to your car make sure you put your phone in your pocket and pay attention to parking lot. Watch for anyone unusual or someone lurking about. If you are home and you see someone parked in your neighborhood that wasn’t there before then pay attention. I wouldn’t suggest being an alarmist and calling the Sheriff for every situation. But you can gather some details about the person such as what they look like, height and weight and how long they have been there. Then make your report if the time has been excessive.

Finally, there is no way I can cover all the things you can do to make yourself or your home safer. Some obvious things are leave your lights on at night. They act as a deterrent, if you have a security system turn it on. Make sure if you have camera’s they are all working properly. I will be installing a video doorbell myself this afternoon. Keep your phone charged up. Most importantly, if you do see something, say something. Just don’t call out your neighbor for walking their dog!

One last kudo goes out to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and all the law enforcement agencies assisting them with the investigations. We have one of the best law enforcement agencies in the county and I have complete faith in their abilities to solve this and protect this community. Sheriff Coverley has had one heck of a first week in office. I am sure this is not how he thought it would start. My hat is off to him and all his staff.

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John Hefner is a Johnson Lane resident.