Small business owners have faced unprecedented economic loss due to the Covid-19 epidemic. And just as they saw a light at the end of the tunnel, some have suffered enormous property damage and loss due to the turmoil erupting in their community.
Owners and managers of businesses have made comments on various media outlets regarding the use of force they are prepared to use to defend themselves and their businesses against trespassers. We want to provide some information that could assist business owners and employees in making appropriate decisions during a high stress event.
Let’s start with facts:
· The law regarding defense of property is contained in IL statute 720 ILCS 5/7-3.
· The law regarding defense of a person from imminent death or great bodily harm is contained in IL statute 720 ILCS 5/7-1.
· The law regarding defense of a dwelling is contained in IL statute 720 ILCS 5/7-2.
If we are planning on using a weapon for self-protection, we need to know what these statutes say. If we don’t, how can we expect to implement self-protection lawfully? Knowing the law is a good first step. The next step is harder; knowing how to react, and when to react. This is situational, and it may require us to make split second decisions. We want to encourage business owners to plan for this type of situation ahead of time, and consider their options before there is a crisis.
Imagine working in your business, and having a large group of people attempting to make a forceful and unlawful entry. Are they planning on vandalism, theft, or do they intend personal violence? You have no way of knowing. Whatever their intention, have you already thought through your options, and what you will do to remain safe? As with any crisis, formulate a plan ahead of time. We can refer to this as a “Decision Tree.” If someone breaks the window, these are my options. If someone enters through that window, these are my options. If this person enters, and I have a reasonable belief that this person is going to harm me, these are my options….
At any of those decision points, a perfectly acceptable option is to retreat and escape.
Before this situation happens, decide what your options are, what you will do, and when you will do it.
For individuals who possess a weapon for self-protection, and are in a position in which they reasonably believe that use of that weapon is necessary and lawful, we offer the following thoughts;
Think of the dozens of scenes you have watched in movies and tv shows where the intended victim points a gun at the attacker hoping to frighten the attacker away. The attacker calmly walks toward the victim because they know the victim won’t pull the trigger, and they take the weapon out of the victim’s hand. If you possess a weapon for personal safety, do not display or “present” the weapon, or threaten the offender with the weapon unless the facts and circumstances warrant the lawful use of that weapon, and you are fully committed to using it. If you are not lawfully able to use the weapon, and you are not fully committed to using it, don’t put yourself in that position. You will not be successful, and the outcome could be even worse.
Also, maintain an element of surprise. If you display a knife, pepper spray, or a baseball bat, etc. to scare the offender away, you lose some tactical advantage. You have given the offender an opportunity to figure out how they are going to disarm you. Decrease the chances of this happening by maintaining as much distance as you can from the offender, and placing obstacles between you and the offender. Bring the weapon out only when you are legally justified to use it, and when you have decided that you are ready and willing to use it.
Training for a low probability, high risk event that most of us would not be prepared for is the foundation of crisis training. It does not require special skills or equipment. It requires only thoughtful planning and preparation. If you are considering the use of force to defend yourself or your business, please know the law, and please develop a plan of action ahead of time for either self-defense, or escape.
Serve and Protect Law LLC
We help companies plan and prepare for any Workplace Violence or Crisis Situation that could be dangerous to their employees, or to their business.