This Halloween season, in particular, there has been a real safety and security threat related to clowns. What started as a prank on the internet with a guy in a creepy clown suit sitting on park and bus benches at 2 and 3am has spawned “copycats” that have more malicious intent. To date, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have all been affected. And this is no laughing matter. Individuals dressed as clowns have tried to lure children into wooded areas, have brandished edged and blunt weapons, and have chased people. This has been met with fear and in some cases anger. One case in particular in Newark, NJ, left a man dressed as a clown dead after an unidentified man got out of an SUV and shot him several times before speeding off.
As Halloween approaches next week, we at OPS Security Group felt the need to address this issue, and offer some advice to keep yourself and your little ghouls and goblins safe while they seek their sugary treasure.
The fact of the matter is that threats come in all shapes and sizes, but practicing good safety and security is something that can prepare you for all threats, not just the ones in oversize shoes, squeaky noses, and beady little eyes staring….always staring………
Anyway, the following are some basic safety measures to keep in mind this year:
- Situational Awareness. This is a catch phrase in the military, law enforcement, and security community, and most times individuals will simply regurgitate it back out because it sounds like you know what you are talking about when you say it. But what does that phrase really mean?? It means that more than likely the threat that is going to come after you or your children will not be wearing a mask or clown makeup. It will most likely be someone dressed like everyone else, and who will be waiting for you to bury your nose back into your phone and check your messages or how many likes your picture just got on social media. Just remember when you’re out there to keep your head up and know what is going on around you.
- Communication. Make sure your kids and whoever is walking in your group have a plan and discuss the worst, should it happen. Figure out the routes you will travel in the neighborhood and beyond, and stick to that plan. If a situation arises and it is best to leave, develop a phrase that everyone will recognize and understand that you have observed something and think it is time to leave. Personally “hey let’s get the heck out of here [paraphrase]” works for me, but I am more blunt than most people. A more subtle phrase may be “I bet that house down there has some good candy” or asking your friend for the time. Either way, good communication between you and your friends / family can help avoid a possible situation before it begins.
- Go to areas you know. It may be tempting to load the kids up in the minivan and head across town for the chance to score some more sweets. If you choose to do this, make sure you go to a neighborhood you are familiar with, or at the least have driven through during the day to get a good layout of where you will be walking later on at night. Remember where you parked. Sounds simple enough, but when it is late and the kids are tired and cranky is not the time to try to remember this and potentially get lost. When you are lost and preoccupied, your situational awareness disappears, and you present a much softer target for a criminal.
Personally, Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I hate to hear of the vehicle accidents and robberies that pop up every year- and now the clown issues. I hope that the advice I shared can help you and your family have a great time next week. And if you are lucky enough to come by my house, I’m the guy that gives out the full size candy bars.
Oh, and a last little bit of advice. Candy selections…..Mary Janes, those peanut looking things that are supposed to be marshmallow, and handfuls of candy corn…..DON’T BE THAT HOUSE.
For more tips on safe clowning around, check out this video of OPS Security Group’s President/CEO Daniel Costa on PHL17 with some great recommendations including an app that can help you keep track of your costumed kids: http://phl17.com/2013/10/31/keep-your-kids-safe-this-halloween/.
Thanks for reading, and for information on how OPS Security Group can help keep you safe, visit our website at https://opssecuritygroup.com/.