Being alert key to staying safe

Published 3:58 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Safety and defending oneself was the focus of a talk given by Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon to the Rotary Club of Chilton County on March 21.

Areas defined in law enforcement as soft targets have become more frequent scenes of tragic attacks in recent years.

“Soft targets can be anything like churches, sporting events, shopping at Walmart, eating at a restaurant,” Shearon said.

Shearon said those who are not aware of their surroundings are more likely to be a victim.

“You have to be ready wherever you are … You have to be looking,” Shearon said. “You have to be aware of your surroundings.”

This includes facing the door when eating at a restaurant.

Shearon said watching people is important to know when something might happen.

“A lot of times people will give themselves away by the things that they do, their body language,” Shearon said.

Having a plan of what to do in an emergency situation is important. Shearon said those who carry a gun need to keep it at the same place on their person every time, so that it is easy to get to. Staying current on how to use the weapon properly is also a key to defending oneself.

In an active shooter situation, Shearon recommended running, if possible, hiding and fighting back. He said just lying flat on the floor makes someone an easy target.

If an armed victim shoots an active shooter, they are protected under state law, according to Shearon.

“You have the right to protect yourself or others,” Shearon said.

He said the incident would still be investigated and go to a grand jury, but ultimately the person should be cleared.

He said training with the weapon is crucial to being able to use it successfully in an emergency situation.

Picking a location to be shielded from the shooter, while still being able to get a good shot is also important.

“The main thing that is going to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Shearon said, commenting that the good guy must be willing to take the life of the attacker if necessary in order to save others.

Even those who do not carry a gun can defend themselves in an active shooter situation.

“Throw something (at them),” Shearon said. “Do something. Be prepared. It might be throwing a hymnal at them or a napkin holder, something. When you are doing something like that, it is distracting that person.”

In an active shooter situation, Shearon said individuals need to “fight like your life depends on it because it does.”

Pepper spray, stun guns and wasp spray are possible defensive alternatives to firearms. Shearon recommended keeping a can of wasp spray by each desk at work because of the range it has and the damage it could do to an aggressive person.

When walking outside, car keys can be used as a weapon, Shearon said. He said it would give the potential victim time to get away.

Even a pen or a plastic fork can be used as a weapon in an emergency, Shearon said.

“This is a stressful day and time we are dealing with, it really is,” Shearon said. “Society is failing, and everybody wants us to fix it. Well, it’s kind of hard for us to do that.”

He said discipline from a young age to learn right from wrong is important to reversing the trajectory society has taken.