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Friday, December 28, 2012

Self-Defense Info: The Three Rules of a 911 Call

Three Rules Of A 911 Call

by Robert Farago

There are two parts to armed self-defense. Defending yourself against a lethal threat and defending yourself against prosecution for defending yourself against a lethal threat. Just as the first rule of a gunfight is have a gun, the first rule for staying out of jail and/or losing everything you own due to defensive gun use is (Shut Up).

That rule starts from the moment you call 911.

1. Make the call as short as possible

911 operators are trained to keep the caller on the line as long as they can, until the first responders make the scene. You are under no legal obligation to remain in contact with the operator.

By the same token, the 911 operators are trained to extract as much information from the caller as possible. You are under no legal obligation to answer any of the operator’s questions.

If you’re in the middle of a Defensive Gun Use (DGU) talking to a 911 operator is not a particularly good use of your time (as opposed to say hiding, running or fighting). If it’s a post-game show, you don’t want anything you say to be used against you in a court of law. And yet everything you say to a 911 operator can and will be used against you in a court of law.

It’s also the way you say it. In the example above, the caller laughs nervously. Well, you and I think it’s a nervous laugh. A prosecutor might convince a jury to hear it another way. Hint: not a good way.

So communicate the basic information necessary: the situation (there’s an intruder in my house/there’s been a shooting), your address, a description of yourself and the medical condition of a wounded friendly (if applicable). After that? Nada. What else do the cops need to know? Nothing.

2. Either hang up or put the phone down as soon as possible

Once you’ve shared the key info, either hang up or put the phone down. The former is the best strategy if the Defense Gun Use is done. The latter is the best option if the situation is in progress.

If you throw the phone down—an excellent idea from a strategic/situational awareness point of view—remember that you’re being recorded.

Use that to your advantage. If it’s safe to do so, yell a warning to the intruder. “The police are on their way. I’ve got a gun. Don’t make me me shoot you.” Over-zealous prosecutors hate that stuff. Juries love it.

Again, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. If you start swearing, laughing (even nervously) or go for some Clint Eastwood-like line before pulling the trigger, that will NOT work out well for you.

3. Do not discuss the 911 call with the cops

Police/detectives arriving on scene will try to extract as much information from you as possible. The cops may try and use information from the 911 call to get you to talk before you lawyer up. Lawyer up. Tell them “My life was in danger” and “I will answer all your questions after I speak with my attorney.” And . . . that’s it. Nothing else.

Don’t be fooled by 911 operators’ good intentions (which are beyond doubt). They are not trying to get you into trouble. But by God they can.

I know it’s difficult not to tell a helpful stranger anything they want to know in a time of grave danger. But give them the basics and Shut Up! Don’t give law enforcement and the perp’s lawyer the ammunition they need to turn you from an armed self-defender into a victim of the legal system.

Tell 911 who, what and where and then put the phone down or hang up.

911 operators are trained to distract you.

911 operators are trained to interrogate callers. By doing so they’re hijacking the callers’ thought process; controlling the pace and nature of the information exchange. When the 911 operator asks you a question you can’t not think about an answer, no matter how dumb the question.

If you’re in the middle of a life-or-death situation, you do NOT want a 911 operator telling you how to think and, thus, what to do or not do. You only have so much mental bandwidth. And time. Don’t waste either answering [what could turn out to be] frivolous questions.

Equally important, holding a phone to your ear devotes an entire limb and hand to the communications process. Need I remind you that a shotgun—the most effective close-quarters self-defense weapon—requires two hands?

911 calls can and will be used against you in a court of law.

911 operators do not read callers their Miranda rights. And yet anything you say during an emergency call can be used against you in a court of law. As I’ve mentioned in this series before, the way you say it can also be used against you.

Basically, it’s the same advice with 911 calls as it is with the cops who arrive to mop-up the scene after a DGU. Shut Up. The less you say to a 911 operator the better.

All you really need to tell them: who you are, where you are, the nature of your emergency (in as neutral way as possible) and what you look like.

And then put the phone down. Or keep the connection open to record audio of the incident. Either way, no matter how friendly, helpful and reassuring the 911 operator may seem, they can inadvertently put you in harm’s way. Or keep you from getting OUT of harm’s way.


One more thing: remember that the police—including well-intentioned 911 operators—have no legal obligation to save your ass.

In DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, Justice Stevens wrote, “the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the Constitution does not impose a duty on the state and local governments to protect the citizens from criminal harm.”

Translation: until the police take control of the scene, YOU are responsible for your own safety. And, legally speaking, after that, too.

According to criminal-defense attorneys, half of all convictions for self-defense incidents rely on frantic traumatized 911 tapes. As a bonus, the media will air your voice nationwide for weeks.

Self-Defense Tip: The Three Rules of a 911 Call



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(This is something that is not included in some concealed weapons classes. They tell you when to defend yourself and how but not about the 911 call that a criminal attorney could use against you. Remember all you really need to tell them: who you are, where you are, the nature of your emergency (in as neutral way as possible) and what you look like.

Don't allow the 911 operator to tell you everything to do. Why? This will distract you from the immediate danger you are in. Also don't make the 911 call if it is not safe to do so. Remember that the criminal has ears to and could know you only have one hand free and are distracted giving the 911 operater to many details and are hanging on every word.) Story Reports

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