BMPs if Attacked on Sweeping Route

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Through the three+ decades I’ve covered the sweeping industry, I have heard of a number of instances of robberies of sweeper operators taking place on sweeping routes, typically at night. There have also been many reports of someone getting behind the wheel of an unlocked sweeper, where the operator left the door unsecured while out doing other tasks on the lot. Because of a recent report about an attempted armed robbery that took place during daylight hours, I decided it made sense to document BMP actions that employees should be taught to follow in the event they are confronted by a gun-wielding robber.

The following is from World Sweeping Association Member, Tim Toler, owner of Indiana-based Clean Sweep Lot Service, LLC.  He related to the WSA office that at 12:30 in the afternoon he was on one of his company’s jobsites in a Scarab sweeper truck. The sweeper was parked on a corner in the middle of the job site when the following occurred: “I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye on the passenger side of the truck. Someone was crawling on all fours. Before I could follow it down the front of the truck he was in the door of the sweeper that was open, put a gun in my face and said ‘Give me all your money man.’

“My response was ‘You’re robbing me?!’ and at the same time I kicked him in the face and then jumped on him from the door of the truck. A fight ensues with his gun going up in the air. As it’s coming down I started to reach for the gun in my pocket. He has his gun in hand at this point, pointed at me. We’ve fought for what seems like an eternity. As I am drawing my weapon on him he pulls his trigger. Nothing: it misfired. I then pulled the trigger and mine misfires also. His gun was a Taurus 45 mm Millennial Edition; that’s how close it was.

“Long story short, this shows that [something like this] can happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere. People were going about their day in someone’s $800k home right across the street from where this took place. A dump truck driver also saw the whole thing from his truck and offered no help. My hope in sharing this is that it might help someone. What’s the chances of two misfires. THANK GOD!”

I’m sure all reading this will agree that Tim Toler was extremely lucky in this situation. The robber’s gun misfired, so Tim is still alive. Tim’s gun misfired, so he doesn’t have to live with knowing he killed someone. In the event you or one of your employees encounters a similar situation, here’s what conventional wisdom says to do, information that was provided by former police officer, Justin Freeman:

When Freeman was asked “What should you do if someone puts a gun to your head?” his short answer was “Whatever they tell you to do.” However, Freeman says, the following are actually the basic considerations to keep in mind:

Most important: Stay. Calm. Every point following this one will be dependent upon your remaining calm. You will be incapable of higher thought if your brain is seized up with an ‘oh my god oh my god oh my god’ cycle. Calmness begets calmness. If you panic, you’re in turn going to panic a person with a gun to your head, who obviously felt backed into a corner prior to your beginning to scream and convulse two feet away from them. 

Remember, your assailant has leveraged control of your physical movement by virtue of having a firearm, but you will, almost without exception, be at a psychological advantage in this situationif you stay calm. You will have the benefit of rationality, logic, rhetoric and persuasion, all of which you’re about to need in spades.

Next, establish eye contact with the assailant. It sounds simplistic, but looking into their eyes forces them to acknowledge, if only to themselves, your humanity in this situation. By looking your assailant in their eyes you will at least introduce a degree of hesitation. You want this person to be uncomfortable, not uncontrollable. You want them to start reconsidering the necessity of what they’re doing and begin looking for an out. 

A robber is simply using the gun to increase their chances of success and as an insurance policy: The point is still your wallet or purse. Give it to them. The following are the best ways to do that:

Do not throw your wallet/purse in one direction and run in the other. The goal is to keep the gun wielder calm, and the sudden motion of you winding back for your wallet/purse toss isn’t going to help your cause. 

Telegraph your actions before you do them: (“I’m going to reach into my back pocket to get my wallet out now”), reach for your wallet or remove your purse at quarter speed, and calmly hand them what they’re demanding.

• During the whole process, study the person: Try to find something unique about them personally. Unless the person is exceptionally tall, short, heavy or skinny, it’s not going to do the police much good later — everybody is “about six feet” and “around 1__ pounds.” And, as far as clothing goes, what he’s wearing is coming off as soon as he’s out of sight and in a protected environment.

If you were to see five people with this person’s general features, what about them personally would distinguish them? It might be a hairstyle, scar or birthmark, tattoo, piercing pattern, or something else. This information is stored in law enforcement databases for repeat offenders, and could prove invaluable in an investigation.

Remember above all: This person likely does not want to shoot you. Rather, they want money so they can meet their goal, which is often getting more drugs. And, when that’s the case, they are likely not to be particularly rational during the robbery. Don’t be a hero; instead, comply with what they want and hope they will then leave with it and leave you alone.

No two gunpoint situations are alike, says Freeman, and they will all be very dynamic situations. His parting advice is to remain calm, be as compliant as you can, be aware of your surroundings, and do what you need to in order to survive.



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