27 February 2008

Brinks Home Security vs. Real Home Security

I've been watching the Brinks Home Security commercials for a while now and I'm still as annoyed by them as I was when I saw the first one.

They all begin the same way. Somebody in a house is doing something normal, like getting ready for bed or getting dressed. Then somehow those people notice an intruder attempting to break in. The intruder breaks a window, the Brinks alarm goes off and the intruder runs away. The telephone rings... and lo and behold it's the Brinks people ready to send someone to come check it out.

Great commercial for Brinks except that it is completely unrealistic. Why should an intruder run away just because an alarm goes off? Maybe he will run away but there's a real chance that he won't and in fact there's a good chance that he's armed.

Let's figure this out. The window is broken... the Brinks people call... perhaps it is possible to answer the phone and maybe not... it's now approximately three minutes since the window was broken. Three minutes is an incredibly long time... especially when it will take Brinks another few more minutes to contact the police and have them respond. We're looking at least six minutes.

You may ask... six minutes? That's not so bad. Really? Six long minutes where the homeowner is in danger of being hurt or murdered. Six long minutes where the homeowner is completely defenseless and at the mercy of the intruder.

Six minutes is also an optimistic estimate. Ask those people who live in an inner city. While teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan I asked those in my political science classes a simple question. How long did it take for the police to respond to their 911 emergency phone call?

The answer was astounding. 45 minutes or longer... or not at all. Those of us to live in the suburbs don't realize that it is not the police's job to protect us, it is our job to protect ourselves. This is not a condemnation of the police. The police are understaffed and underpaid. They cannot be everywhere as much as we may like them to be.

Rather than realizing that we are responsible for our own personal security we'll call out to the intruder on the front porch who just broke in the front window, "Hey, I just called the police... or Brinks Home Security... they're on their way!" Yup, I see that working.

Obviously you've figured out that I'm speaking about owning a firearm. I need to make clear that just because you have a firearm does not mean that you are necessarily going to fire it. There is the possibility of deterrence. The intruder would prefer not to get himself killed.

I'll give another example regarding the police. A few months ago on a Sunday morning, about 10 in the morning I awoke to the sounds of banging on my front door. I drag myself out of bed to look through my little peephole in the door. I see two police officers, one male and one female, neither one small.

I open the door and ask if I can help them. They tell me that they got a 911 emergency phone call from my apartment. I tell them that I only have a cellphone and that I hadn't called them. The officers radio back to the dispatcher to double check that they're in the right place. They were. It seems that a girl had called for help and I suppose didn't give them/or wasn't able to give them an address. I wished the officers well and they were on their way.

What a scary story. A girl is in trouble and does the right thing... she calls 911. The police do the right thing by responding... but end up at the wrong apartment. What's this poor girl going to do? What are her chances when dealing with this unknown (to me) danger?

Recently I've heard several times some interesting comments against self-defense with either pepper spray or a firearm.

"It may be used against you."

"You may escalate the situation."

"Learn Krav Maga/Karate."

I cannot understand this victim mentality. So it's better to be completely defenseless?! On the off chance that the pepper spray or firearm is used against you - it's better to have absolutely no chance to mount a defense at all?

The second argument "You may escalate the situation" is ridiculous. Who started the whole mess to begin with? Why is the victim the one responsible for the situation?

The third argument "Learn Krav Maga/Karate." Sure, no problem. Reality check. That stuff works in the movies. 200 pound fellow versus 125 pound little ole me (G-d forbid). I don't want to be within an arms length of anyone trying to do me harm. I'm not against learning hand-to-hand self defense, but my life better not be dependent on it.

So back to the Brinks commercial. I like that they're so optimistic about how home security works. The alarm sounds and the intruder runs off into the darkness. Any home security system has to be comprehensive. The alarm can be the first line of defense, but it should not be the last. Whether it be pepper spray or firearms - the homeowner or pedestrian on the street should realize that they themselves are the ones ultimately responsible for their own safety, not the police officer who may or may not show up at the wrong address.

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