We begin today’s episode with a note from your fellow LFT patron, Al…
“I want to set up a website dealing specifically with neighborhood safety,” Al wrote to us a couple of days ago. “I plan on linking to several resources, and creating free resources for people to learn to get to know their neighbors, what to watch for with regards to criminal activity, and what to do, and what not to do to keep themselves and their family safe.
“I want to assemble as much of this type of information for families as possible, available free. The writing’s on the wall, and I want to assemble resources to help prevent as many tragedies and as much violence as possible. Just spreading the word, creating an awareness of the potential challenges we are facing will go a long way, I’m sure.”
Thanks for writing in, Al.
Community safety has also been a common theme I’ve been running into lately. Fortunately, it seems that technology has been moving from focusing on the macro to slowly inching toward the local/hyperlocal.
After about a century of community retraction, the next boon is technology which helps communities strengthen. There’s a growing interest in this and anyone who can crack that nut effectively will do very well.
Obviously, safety will be a big one and there are already a couple of solution-oriented apps in the digisphere.
There are also very simple things you could do today to bring your community together (and promote your cause) that have nothing to do with technology. The more great (and green) places neighborhoods have, research suggests, the better and safer the neighborhood is.
Ontario’s Dave Marcucci was inspired by this idea and decided to build a bench in his front yard next to the sidewalk for his neighbors. Now, neighbors are able to sit and talk and he’s met more of them than ever before.
Just a thought.
Plus, I’ve seen a lot of people placing Free Library boxes in their yards with success. And if you’re planning on promoting your self-defense material to your community, this might be a great way to do it.
On the technology tip…
Crowdfunding money to create a course/book about community safety could be a good idea. YouCaring is a crowdfunding platform which lets you keep every dollar you raise.
And there are the community-centered safety apps which already exist…
Cell 411, as I’ve mentioned in the past, is an app which helps community members keep each other safe. In the event of an emergency, a user can push the (optional) panic button on his or her arm or neck, or a button on the app, and alert those in the vicinity of an emergency. I just met the founder of Cell 411 a couple of weeks ago at Brave New Books in Austin, Tx. He has big plans for the app and it’s already being used as a private policing dispatch service in South Africa.
Cell 411 also just launched a decentralized and P2P rideshare program where the driver pays ZERO fees to Cell 411. (And, yes, you can accept bitcoin.)
None. Zilch. Zero.
So that’s something to consider if you’re an Uber or Lyft driver.
Also, there’s the private social network called NextDoor, which is a hyperlocal community which allows you to interact with your neighbors about important community issues. I used it a few times when I lived in Baltimore.
Waze is a great app for c target=”_blank”ommunity-based traffic and navigation assistance. Not only is it for navigation, you can see where traffic is ahead of time, see where the speed traps are, see where the cheapest gas is, and more.
Further, there’s a lot that can be learned from the private paramilitary service in Detroit called VIPERS.
“The VIPERS,” the team’s documentary page reads, “are a secretive paramilitary squadron based in a bunker on the Detroit River. Led by the ambitious Commander Brown, they split their time between corporate bodyguard work, self-defense training courses, and pro-bono community service, defending women and families from violent ex-husbands and boyfriends throughout Detroit.”
Last weekend, at Voice & Exit, I had the chance to talk VIPERS leader Dale Brown. He and his team provides community safety to some of Detroit’s most dangerous neighborhoods. He’s able to provide his services for free to people who can’t afford it by subsidizing it with people and businesses who can.
And his approach to community safety is much different — and far more effective — than the reactionary approach the police take.
Dale Brown at Voice & Exit wearing the Cell 411 “panic” button
To make a comparison, let’s imagine violence is akin to cancer to a community. It rips communities apart apart limb-by-limb. It destroys faith, invokes fear, and makes people flee until there’s nothing left. Our modern police force, continuing this analogy, is chemotherapy. It is reactionary and often causes more destruction when it acts.
Mr. Brown’s approach, on the other hand, is the equivalent to taking preventative measures. He keeps the community cancer at bay by not allowing violence to happen in the first place.
His philosophy is this: If a crime happens, he hasn’t done his job.
“This is not law enforcement,” Mr. Brown said in an interview on Jeff Berwick’s Anarchast. “We are not private police. We do not think or act or create conditions for policing. The difference is this is public threat management. So it’s how to create safety in your community by managing threats. Which has nothing to do with enforcement of laws. I don’t enforce any laws. I don’t even use the laws to change human behavior in any way.
“Our objective is to never create a conflict situation. And we have some latitude there because, as I explain to owners of businesses and homes, we’re not in the kill and capture business.”
To give you an idea of their tactics, when they come across anyone who may be “drifting” or preying on a neighborhood, they approach the person with respect and offer them free protection.
“The interaction,” he says, “is very positive and polite. The way I train my staff is to view all people as if they’re family. And to project to them strength, but also with positivity. With humility. You don’t disrespect people because you’re protecting anything or anyone. You never treat anyone differently than you want your own family treated. So as a result we don’t have interactive problems with people and predators are not looking for a hard target, they’re looking for a soft target.”
The cornerstone of his practice is using psychology to shape his team’s interactions with the public. That way, there’s no provocation with predators, and the interaction has more of a chance to begin and, most importantly, end on a positive note.
“If I have fear,” Brown told Berwick, “fear will dictate my actions and those will be negative actions. The only way to overcome fear is through education. Some type of information that removes our fear from the subject matter. So if we’re going to be electricians and we’re going to rewire a lamp, if you don’t understand electricity, you’re going to be scared and you’re not going to do it properly and you’re going to electrocute yourself. Or if you’re smart, you’re not going to do it at all.”
“One of the things that drives me as an instructor,” Brown said in another interview with MintPressNews, “is that we can decrease the likelihood of having negative interactions between law enforcement and the public and increase officer safety while increasing officers’ confidence through competence and creating nonviolent outcomes. This can only come from a different education system that is not fear-based.”
The ideal threat management “officer,” Brown says, is community-conscious, self-aware and intelligent. The performance is much more intellectual than physical.
“It’s about keeping yourself cool,” he went on, “calm in a state of ‘solution seeking.’ You cannot be fixated on fighting, shooting or wanting power.”
(Again, real solutions rarely ever involve the ego. As we spoke about earlier this week, ego is the enemy.)
And, just an idea, Al, you could start by offering a self-defense weekly meetup in your free time for a small fee. You could sell self-defense products to your neighbors and teach them how to use them effectively.
For example, we sell one self-defense product that’s so effective it’s been flying off the shelves. You can take it anywhere you want and it fits in your pocket. In fact, I’ve gotten it through security in over 50 checkpoints.
I take it with me to every country I go without a problem.
Until next time,
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today
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