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Personal Safety Tactics: At What Point Do You Call Police?

In this week's safety column, find out when to call police if you hear or see something suspicious.

The Scenario

You’re relaxing at home when you hear a strange noise outside. It sounds like someone is trying to break in through a window. What is the first thing you should do?

The Personal Safety Tactic

If you have a firearm handy, you may be thinking that your first move is to grab it, go outside and investigate. But consider this—you haven’t determined the source of the noise so you don’t know whether it’s the wind blowing a loose screen around, three armed burglars or any of a hundred other potential causes. Your first move should always be to call the police.

And if you live in the Snellville city limits, you can take comfort in the fact that your call will be handled by the best police department in the state.

Many people hesitate to call because they don’t want to bother the police with something trivial. Chief Roy Whitehead of Snellville has an entirely different perspective.

According to Whitehead, “that’s what we’re here for.”

He recently recounted a story about a woman who scared by a noise outside her house. She didn’t want to call the police because she wasn’t sure that it was a burglar. After about three hours, she finally called, and it turned out that an animal had gotten caught in a screen and couldn’t get loose. After the police arrived, freed the animal and explained the situation, the woman said she thought it was a mistake that she had called because it really wasn’t a police matter.

The chief’s response was that the only mistake the woman had made was waiting three hours to call.

Obviously, had a burglar been trying to break in, the outcome might have been a lot different. However, regardless of any other responses, it’s always a good idea to alert the police as soon as you become aware of any potentially criminal activity. That doesn’t mean that you should call every time a dog barks, but if you have serious concerns, take the “better safe than sorry” route.

What about grabbing a gun and protecting yourself? That is certainly an option. However, issues relating to the use of firearms are well beyond the scope of this column. If you do keep a gun at home or at your place of business, be sure to consult with a law enforcement professional who can explain your rights and responsibilities.

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