A good friend of mine does security for a religious school and house of worship. Just recently, after a spate of suspicious phone calls inquiring about security procedures, he saw what’s become the most recent worst nightmare for law enforcement and security procedures: a large heavy delivery truck driven by two very out of place individuals, cruising through the street that his house of worship empties out into. Many of these worshippers walk to and from church. The five to ten minutes before and after they let out, the street is packed with pedestrians: families with small children, elderly.
The truck parked in an apartment building nearby. The two men went upstairs and fetched out a mattress. It took them about 20 minutes, most of which they spent watching the front of the church and the security personnel. It seemed as though they were lingering and in no hurry to pick up the mattress they’d come to get. The church service was also delayed by, gee, about ten minutes because of an extra long service.
Right when the first service members departed, the truck was hastily loaded up, and then driven slowly past the front of the church, and then departed.
On the surface, maybe just a couple of hard working guys driving a dramatically oversized truck to pick up one mattress who just happened to have time to kill and hang out and watch a stressed out security officer. But in another life, on a planet far far away, a guy I know who’d spent a lot of time in dangerous places would have said, “Dang…that sure seems like it might could be a rehearsal for some kind of nasty event, like driving a heavy truck through church goers.”
Not that that kind of thing happens too often, despite the recent spate of events like described here:
And even with a certain notorious organization calling for these kind of attacks against houses of worship after they published a list of all those places:
And of course there would be no linkage with a recent spate of telephone calls asking specific questions about times and places to the religious school associated with that house of worship.
There’s this thing from psychology which I are a student of sometimes, and gets to hangs around with peeps much smarter than me, which is called, I think, “normalcy bias.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normalcy_bias
In sum it’s the thinking that goes like this: “It hasn’t happened to me, therefore it cannot happen.” It’s a presupposition which provides an unconscious (as in you don’t even know you know/believe it) foundation for action and planning. The cure for it generally is a harsh one, when reality sticks it’s sometimes ugly nose in and says, “Hey Sweet Cheeks? Today’s the day you get fucked.”
People die or get hurt when you let normalcy bias rule your decisions especially when it comes to dealing with violence.
That’s what you have security professionals (aka professional paranoids) who do that kind of distasteful thinking for you, so that you don’t have to think about small children and old people crushed under the wheels of a big truck.
Of course, you do have to trust and take their advice on board, and a big (often overlooked) part of being a high end security professional is the art of convincing the non-experienced that your experience is presenting a picture that conflicts with the bosses normalcy bias.
So I was asked to opine about the art and science of killing trucks after someone I know saw this video:
Very brave man. Who died in the attempt to stop the truck involved in the Nice terror attack.
I’m just a researcher, but I was able to ask a few friends of mine who have some experience dealing with variations on this kind of issue. What’s offered below is only opinion based on other’s experience and training so take it (as all things I offer) with a big grain of salt and run it through your own perceptual filters. If it doesn’t make sense for you or work when you test it, bin it. Won’t hurt my feelings one bit, and as you may have noticed, offered here without charge.
Pre-Event: (LEFT OF BANG)
- Know who rents trucks in your preciencts/city. Not just the big haulers but even a cargo panel truck like Ryder or U-Haul. DHS has all their various flyers out at those facilities but a conscientious patrol cop or proactive intelligence analyst might drop by those in his/her area of interest and cultivate relationship.
- Blocking streets that have events is something decided by higher, and I wont’ get into that. Installing permanent or temporary vehicle obstacles is great if it happens.
During Event, Pre-Incident: (LEFT OF BANG)
If you’re participating in a planned major event (like a street fair) you’ll have contingencies in place. I’d expect that they’d address procedures for slowing/blocking heavy vehicles through a combination of traffic control points, temporary obstacles or zones, and establish appropriate response.
In the opinion of some more learned than I, here’s the desirable flow to prevent heavy vehicle attacks:
1) Deny access to the vehicles through proactive police work/intelligence gathering.
2) Deny entry of heavy or other vehicles into a target rich environment by vehicle obstacles permanent or temporary or procedural.
Incident (BIG MOTHERFUCKING BANG)
3) Detect a suspect vehicle far enough out to be able to take proactive measures.
a. Have spotters on the perimeter with reliable comms and useful optics (binoculars or pocket monoculars)
4) Delay the suspect vehicle from entry and/or acceleration.
a. Procedurally through vehicle control points
b. Physically blocking the approaching vehicle with heavy vehicles.
5) Destroy the attacker
a. Divert or ram the vehicle off the roadway into something like a building or vehicles to slow or stop it.
b. Block the vehicle by getting heavy vehicles in front of it.
c. Kill the driver (my personal favorite).
i. If you’re engaging through metal and glass into a driver’s compartment, consider what weapons you have and especially what kind of ammo. Bonded is best, but roll with what you got.
ii. If all you’ve got is a pistol, try for the close range side shot. Aim at the head through the window glass and work your shots down. It may cause him to flinch and flinch the wheel to one side as the glass shatters and if he’s committed enough to duck, follow the head down and shoot through the door sheet metal. If you don’t know Super Dave Harrington’s IRON CROSS drill, go learn it. It’s the best drill for training how to fight with a pistol from a seated position in a car with either hand.
iii. Rifles are good. Volume of fire but be conscious of backstops. If shooting from the front, same thing: start high to get his head down and if you’re a cool enough shot, ping the next string off the hood into the cabin. Don’t waste time shooting tires/engines. Kill the driver.
iv. Don’t neglect the trusty shotgun. Loaded with slugs like a Brennekke or whatever the state of the art is, it will fuck up an engine and a driver’s compartment better than a rifle.
CONCURRENT WITH THIS –
Have a plan to notify people. Loudspeakers, sirens, make some noise so people will look up and see what’s happening and get the hell out of the way while the pros try to deal with it. Don’t make it complicated. If they hear loud noises, get out of the roadway as fast as they can. Don’t be a hero, just get out of the way.
Rinse and repeat.
1) Solo civilian armed or unarmed vs. heavy vehicle = no bueno. Period.
2) Have a plan.
3) Said plan should address:
a. Awareness. Keeping one’s eyes on what’s going on, also known as enjoying one’s self and not buried in the cellphone. This also includes accepting that something could happen, and mentally prepping yourself for that.
(COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE-Y DIGRESSION since I kinda do that for a living)
What kills people in these events is the lag time between recognizing what’s happening and doing something about it. Notice I said RECOGNIZING and not SEEING.
Untrained person: SEES SOMETHING THEY DON’T RECOGNIZE – TRIES TO FIGURE IT OUT – FIGURES IT OUT – DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO – DEFAULTS TO ONE OF THE FOUR BASIC SURVIVAL FUNCTIONS (FEED, FIGHT, FLEE, F**K) – TRIES TO IMPLEMENT – MAYBE GETS LUCKY.
Trained (or at least aware person who’s accepted the possibility) SEES SOMETHING AND RECOGNIZES IT FOR WHAT IT IS – ACTS ON A SIMPLE ROBUST PLAN (grab the kids and run out of the way) –
Fewer steps = less time deciding = more time to be alive.
Back to the plan:
b. Communications pre and post: “IF SOMETHING HAPPENS, GET OUT OF THE WAY AND DON’T LOOK FOR US, TEXT WHEN YOU GET CLEAR OR WE’LL MEET AT THE CAR”
c. Small kids, disabled, elderly – grab and go, dude. That’s all you can do. Can you pick up all your kids and run with them? Will they listen to you if you scream something at them like GET OUT OF THE WAY? Could you pick up your diabled father and run with him? You can carry more weight than you think if you use body mechanics, go Google Fireman’s Carry.
d. After the event, have a plan to reconnect.
e. Consider toting a small emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, some cash, a charger for your phone. Pretty easy to tote. See my previous articles on that.
f. Gun toters. Consider the total event. Before you go in blazing make sure you’ve met the needs of those you are responsible for, including yourself. Then BEFORE get a gut check on whether you have the skill, physical fitness, and the opportunity to get in and deal violence on that person – or if you’re just complicating an already complicated event. Your life, your call. Family first dude. The hero in the video ended up crushed under the truck, and no one remembers his name.
Just some random thoughts from some Old Guys on the sidelines. Stay safe out there. Unless you’re the Achy Man: https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/repost-the-achy-man-and-the-writers-process-updated-with-rico-and-other-cool-stuff/