Crime, Security, and Personal Responsibility

Crime, Security, and Personal Responsibility

January 5, 2015 – Jeffrey A. Hawkins

Every day we read or hear of lapses in security and tragic criminal acts in schools, the workplace, on the street, or in homes.

We shake our heads, shed a tear, say a prayer, curse the offender, and sometimes question law enforcement about their actions or inactions.

The one thing that is almost always missed is questioning the victim’s personal responsibility to have prevented the incident from ever occurring in the first place.

Whether you are a college student, school administrator, parent, home owner, business owner, or CEO, you are responsible for your own security and that of your family, or those who work for you or come to the place you manage.

Often looking at child abductions, active shooters, home invasions, and other violent crimes, is the lack of personal reasonability that may have completely stopped these incidents from ever occurring by taking some simple, common sense steps.

It is important to note that law enforcement was never intended to be the crime prevention police. In fact when they were initially established over 200 years ago in the United States their sole responsibility was simply to apprehend criminals and bring them to justice.

However these days’ police are second guessed no matter what they do and the police themselves have taken on responsibilities they were never intended to do, such as provide security for neighborhoods, shopping centers, businesses, and schools.

In all fairness to law enforcement they have made attempts over the last several decades in placing back the responsibility to the individual through programs such as DARE, Neighborhood Watch, and Community Oriented Policing with limited success.

We know criminals are driven by three factors: motive, desire, and opportunity; the one factor that we can have an immediate impact on to reduce the criminal’s actions is to take away the opportunity.

Here are a few quick fixes.


Lock your doors and windows; there is no place in the United States that you should leave your doors and windows unlocked, especially if you have children. This is not just at night when you go to sleep, but also during the day, when you are home alone, and when you are away.

If you have an alarm, make sure it is on and the most important time to have it on is when you are home alone or sleeping.

From dusk to dawn turn on lights around your home. Criminals do not want to be seen and a dark neighborhood and home provides an inviting opportunity.

If you own a firearm to use for personal protection learn to use it as well as you know how to drive a car. Just having one for the sake of having one is not personal protection, it is an accident waiting to happen. A police officer has to go through hundreds of hours before they can carry a gun, so invest time to learn to use and secure it properly.


Always be aware of your surroundings, do not travel in areas you do not know, do not walk around intoxicated, and when in doubt call the police or security personnel as soon as you feel a threat. Do not wait.

When you leave your car in a parking lot or garage, lock the doors and place anything attractive to a criminal in the trunk.

In traffic lock your cars doors and leave room between your car and the car in front of you in case someone attempts to get into your car.

Be especially careful when out late at night; the police have a saying that the only people that are out between midnight and 4am are criminals and potential victims.

See above if you are going to carry a firearm. One study showed that in an active police shooting, trained officers miss their target up to 82% of the time. If you are going to carry one, invest in knowing how to use it or it may be taken away and used against you or worst, you may shoot an innocent person with a missed round.


Business owners, not-for-profits, and senior management have direct responsibility for the safety and security of their employees and any customers, visitors, or anyone else you invite onto your property.

It does not matter whether you are a church or a trucking company, you are required to do your Due Diligence in protecting people, which means you have to do what is reasonable and prudent or you are liable.

Security negligent cases are filed on a regular basis and claiming ignorance is not a defense; you will lose in court and the judgment will be more than you can imagine.

If you are not sure what to do, hire a legitimate security consultant to do a risk assessment at your location. And do not be surprised that you will have to pay for security, be it physical, electronic, or personnel; it is the cost of doing business these days.

The greatest threat to anyone’s security and becoming a victim of a crime is the mentality of “It can’t happen here” or “It can’t happen to me or my family” – it is always someone else and somewhere else that these things happen to, until they happen to you or your loved ones and then it is too late.

There is no tomorrow; start to take personal responsibility for your security now.

Jeffrey A. Hawkins is a senior public safety/security professional with over 30-years of diverse experience working for profit, not-for-profit, and government organizations on a local, regional, and global level.

Hawkins is a former law enforcement supervisor who transitioned into the private security sector serving as Chief Security Officer in the pharmaceutical, health care, cultural properties, religious, and corporate industries. Hawkins graduated from the Chicago Police Academy and has over 1,000 hours of training in the areas of security, law enforcement has a B.S. degree in Business Administration, and an M.S. degree in Management. He graduated from the Chicago Police Academy and has over 1,000 hours of training in the areas of security, law enforcement, and emergency management with such specialty agencies as the FBI, Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, and counter terrorism agencies in Israel.

Hawkins is a media authority on the topic of security and public safety and frequent speaker across the country. For more information, visit: