Friday, May 30, 2008

"Fight or Flight"

I ran across an editorial on the Sacramento PD Blog that was a good read. "Officer Michelle" makes some good points in the piece, especially the closing paragraph of Fight or Flight;

I have often been confronted with a perplexing question: “What should people do when confronted by an assailant?” Immediately, I wanted to respond: “Well, fight back with everything you have….no, maybe just give in to the crooks demands and spare your life.” I soon realized that such a question is really not at all easy to answer. We are always confronted with issues that ask us to respond one way or another, a crossroads so to speak. Life is full of such challenges that constantly force us to make a decision the result of which we do not know. I recalled a 17-year old girl being confronted on a bike trail by a masked assailant. The crook made two attempts to reach out to grab her but, the victim slapped his hand away on each attempt. The suspect ran without taking any further actions against the victim. However, I also remember the tragedy of a store clerk who attempted to stop a would-be-robber who ended up being shot and killed.

In the context of crime, the issue to fight or flight becomes very vague and not easily understood. To gain some sense of understanding requires us to examine criminal behaviors. Unfortunately, there is no one stop shop that clearly defines what motivates a criminal to take one particular action over another. Hence, criminal behavior is quite unpredictable. Criminals are often motivated by money, material objects, or even power and control. They will go to undetermined lengths toward the commission of their crime by using weapons, physical force, verbal abuse or any combination thereof. In any case, this unpredictable behavior can be extremely stoic on one end of the spectrum and extremely violent on the other. In other words, some criminals will run away when challenged by their victim while others may use extreme violence to achieve their objective.

Bottom line: the decision to fight back against an attacker, give in to their demands or run away is purely a personal one. Only the person who comes face to face with an attacker can make that decision based on the circumstances presented at the time. But, consider this, material possessions are replaceable, your life is not. What would you do?

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