Do you know how you’d react in a police standoff? It may sound like a strange question, but it’s important.
These are dangerous situations that can happen out of nowhere. Even a small conflict can quickly become a battle between civilians and law enforcement.
A quick Google search shows they aren’t just happening in cities and suburbs but also in RV parks. Today we’ll learn how to stay safe if it happens to you.
Let’s dive in!
Tense Police Standoff in RV Park
In early February 2023, local law enforcement responded to a call at Monroe Street Estates RV Park in Port Angeles, Washington. The caller said her husband, Charles V. Smith, physically assaulted her. Smith then aimed a gun at her and barricaded himself in their RV.
His wife escaped the vehicle unharmed. Once police arrived, crisis negotiators called Smith’s phone to de-escalate the situation. He didn’t cooperate but made threats from inside the RV.
Because Smith remained uncooperative, officers called the Washington State Patrol Special Weapons and Tactics Team. They also called the Olympia Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team.
After several hours, law enforcement used pepper spray canisters to drive Smith out. He finally surrendered peacefully. No one involved was harmed. During the standoff, Smith was carrying a semi-automatic handgun.
What Is a Police Standoff?
Many disputes and conflicts resolve peacefully. But some disputes–like the incident in Port Angeles–escalate and become police standoffs. So what does this mean, anyway?
The dictionary defines it as “a situation in which no progress can be made.” If you’re familiar with words like stalemate and deadlock, they mean the same thing. A standoff occurs when the people involved can no longer take action.
A person meets several criteria for these situations to occur. These include creating a barricade, being armed with a dangerous weapon, and receiving instructions to exit. If the person doesn’t comply within 30 minutes, the crisis is legally designated as a police standoff.
Pro Tip: Know your rights! Find out Do Police Need a Warrant to Search Your RV?
Are Police Standoffs Common in RV Parks?
There are several pros and cons where RV park safety is concerned. Many sites have front gates, security checkpoints, and even surveillance cameras. Compared to most American cities, these campgrounds actually have less crime. Your chances of being involved in a serious matter here are one in 25,000, according to VEHQ.com.
But that doesn’t mean these areas are without problems. Any law enforcement event, including a police standoff, is possible. And unfortunately, the incident in Port Angeles isn’t the only one of its kind. In the last month, similar situations have also occurred in RV parks in Connecticut, Arizona, Oregon, and Mississippi.
What Should You Do if a Police Standoff Occurs in Your RV Park?
We at Drivin’ & Vibin’ are not experts on police standoffs. However, we do care about your well-being. We recommend an online or in-person active shooter safety course to stay prepared. Although circumstances differ, the training translates well to these events.
If you find yourself in this situation, here are some essential tips.
Evacuate the Area, if Possible
If a police standoff occurs in your RV park, your first goal is to leave the area. Things can get unpredictable and escalate in minutes. Getting as far away from the situation as possible is the safest option.
It’s best to have an escape route even before a standoff begins. But if you’re forced to leave unprepared, do so as quickly and calmly as possible.
While evacuating, leave your belongings behind and assist others if possible. If you encounter people heading toward the conflict, warn them to stay away. Be sure to comply with law enforcement–and keep your hands visible so they know you aren’t armed.
Find a Safe Place to Shelter
If you’re unable to evacuate, your next best option is to hide. A good spot will be outside the potential line of fire. It will also offer protection from bullets and other projectiles. You also want to be sure you choose a place that allows you to move if needed.
Before hiding, secure the entrance to your RV. Blockade your doors and, if possible, your windows. You can use heavy furniture and other bulky objects for this.
Once in your hiding place, make sure your phone is on silent. Eliminate other noises by turning off radios, TVs, and stereos. Then you can wait for the police standoff to resolve.
Lock the Door
This may seem like an obvious step. But it can be tough to think clearly in a crisis. Don’t forget to lock your RV’s entrance in an emergency.
If your vehicle has windows that open, make sure to seal and lock them as well. Draw all curtains and shades inside your motorhome. This will secure your vehicle and avoid drawing any attention to your area.
Dial 911 to Help Law Enforcement
Once you’re in a secure place, call 911. Even if law enforcement is already at the scene, you may be able to help. Officers will want to know if you heard or witnessed the events leading up to the standoff.
Even if you didn’t hear or witness anything, call the police. They might be able to give you helpful instructions. Remain on the line even if you aren’t comfortable speaking. The dispatcher will likely stay on the line and listen to what’s happening in the background.
Follow Instructions of Law Enforcement
Law enforcement’s primary goal is to resolve the conflict at hand. This means they may have to ignore people in distress or who have injuries. Once the main threat is neutralized, other concerns can be addressed.
When police and other law enforcement arrive, listen to and comply with their instructions. Make sure your hands are free and visible. When officers direct you to move to a specific area, do so calmly and quietly. Don’t make any sudden movements or try to speak to law enforcement. This may cause distractions or other issues.
What Can You Do to Prepare for Police Standoffs?
Witnessing or being near a police standoff is a scary thought. Fortunately, there are readily available resources–many of which are free–to help you prepare.
Active shooter training can help you develop sound strategies that apply in these situations. These are available online and in person. You may also consider taking a first aid course to feel more prepared. Self-defense classes can boost confidence and could be helpful in an emergency.
The US government also offers online resources for emergency preparedness. Check out FEMA’s online preparedness community or visit Ready.gov for more information.
Pro Tip: Stuck with flashing lights in your rearview mirror? Find out What Are Your Rights When You Get Pulled Over?
Know How to Stay Safe During a Police Standoff
A police standoff can happen anywhere. And although RV parks are generally secure, that doesn’t mean they’re perfectly safe. A conflict can escalate in mere minutes.
Be prepared for emergencies by educating yourself and making an action plan. Even though emergencies happen quickly, you can protect yourself just as fast.
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