Selected SECURE LIVING Columns published in


 By Chuck Klein














NON-LETHAL OPTIONS, Are they Pragmatic?






Published: 28 Feb 2002

We hear a lot of catch phrases such as "The embassy/military base/etc. is on high/heightened/full alert." Sometimes these terms are military codes and sometimes they're only the news writer's perception of what's happening. Back in the 1960s, the military established a set of color codes to help individual soldiers be alert of the different levels of awareness to danger. Over the years most police agencies and training THE BADGE facilities have adopted the same color codes. It is important to have different levels for reasons of mental preparedness to danger and also to stand down when the danger is less, though not completely gone.

Everyone, police, military as well as civilians, can use and benefit from this time tested system of risk consciousness. These Color Conditions have no time frame inasmuch as you can go from Condition White to Condition Black in a split second. The color codes and their definitions are: The first level or lowest level of awareness is CONDITION WHITE. This is denotes a relaxed state of mind. The condition that most people are in when going about their daily business. The second level, a raised measure of mental alertness, is CONDITIONS YELLOW.

The person in Condition Yellow will be more cognizant of his or her surroundings. Police officers and others who carry firearms must remain at this level at all times. Others, for reasons of just making sure they aren't caught unawares will be tuned in to everything that is going on within their arena of observation. Those in Condition Yellow should not only be aware of their surroundings, but their position in relation to these surrounds. In other words, for example, if while dining in a restaurant, your goals might be to observe the people (and their movements), fixtures, and places, while impressing on your mind the locations of exits and possible hindrances to those exits.THE BADGEOther observations for interacting in public would include looking people in the eye and trying to read their body language, i.e., is the manager of the all night store where you stopped for milk, whose eyes are darting around and is standing very rigid, being robbed? Looking at people and scenes with an eye for the unusual or viewing events that are "out of context" might save your life. Does the person wearing a heavy coat on a warm day have a bomb underneath? Is the car that keeps circling your block looking to kidnap the little girl playing on the sidewalk? If you can consciously force yourself to be observant you will have fewer surprises and maybe live a little longer. Suffice it to say, indulging in the consumption of alcoholic drink is counter productive to remaining anything other than Code White.

Once something unusual or out of the ordinary is noticed CONDITION ORANGE takes over. Now the prudent person should be on the lookout for an unspecified, but real danger. The strange look of the night store manager should prompt heightened awareness to this new level. Of course if he is only experiencing a little gas, it will be come apparent soon. However, if the man with dark sunglasses standing behind the manager is a robber, you, keeping your cool because you're not surprised, might be able to make your purchase and leave without involvement other than calling the police when you are safely out of the store.

A third scenario would lead to Level Red. CONDITION RED means a potential deadly assault is forthcoming. You have seen the enemy and he is advancing. The perp behind the manager has made his intentions clear and he is brandishing a weapon. CONDITION BLACK! You are involved in a lethal force encounter.



Published 13 Feb 2003

Prior to the High Holy days, I had the opportunity to discuss security measures with management and officials of one of the local synagogue/temples. To say there were significant holes in their plans and practices would be a gross understatement. Of course, since no attacks occurred they're confident that their preventative measures worked. Then again, that's like the guy who walks around constantly snapping his fingers believing that it keeps the lions and tigers away. The fact that the natural habitat of lions or tigers precludes any being within 3000 miles is lost on him, i.e., just because there were no attacks doesn't mean it was the result of his preparations.

In my latest book, LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution, I devoted a chapter to agendas. It is important to note that people, agencies and governments might have different goals and aspirations. A local police officer's definition of "best interest" might not be the same as the congregation's, the public, per se, or even other police agencies. Nothing sums this up more poignantly than the Columbine H.S. tragedy. Here, the responding officers waited 40 minutes for the SWAT team before entering the building. The basis for this shameful inaction can be found in a public statement by their Sheriff: "I didn't order the officers in, because I didn't want any of them to get hurt."

Recently, I wrote a series of articles for law enforcement journals contending that modern police training is producing a mind-set of cowardice in police ranks. Naturally, these columns generated a lot of mail, both pro and con. One of the scariest statements was from a mid-west police chief who wrote: "Most officers have families, just like everyone else. Their main goal is to get home safely at the end of each shift, and I agree with that philosophy 100 percent." In other words, and in contrast to past times, the police, today, are more interested in saving their own hide than your's or your congregation's.

The problem of different agendas is further evidenced by a few statements made by the temple/synagogue's officials: "The FBI told us, we here in Cincinnati have a lower risk than, say, New York, so our security is not as high." A higher risk, most certainly, requires a higher level of caution. But what precautions are excessive? What are reasonable? Just because there has never been a fire in your home is no excuse not to keep fire extinguishers, an evacuation plan and smoke alarms. Besides, who should decide what level of protection is necessary, the FBI or local police whose goals and interests might be different than that of the membership?

Another troubling statement by this place of Jewish worship: "We have spent many long hours developing a comprehensive security plan." Taken at face value, it's a great line, however, this organization then turned down a free critique of this plan by a police-experienced Jew. In addition, this same Jew was welcomed, then rebuffed, when he volunteered as an on-site, plain-clothes, armed guard each day of the High Holy days services. This was not a liability issue as the armed Jew was a member of the synagogue/temple, was not being paid and had every legal right to be on campus with a gun. Any liability would fall to the congregation should an incident happen and it was discovered that free expert protection was refused. The reason for the rejection was because the contracted, off-duty police objected. One would think they would welcome all the help they could get from experienced professionals. Obviously their agenda is not the same as the congregation's. The question that needs to be asked of the management of this house of worship: Is their agenda to protect the congregation or appease the local cops?

Those smartly uniformed (gentile) police officers sure look impressive in the foyer to your synagogue/temple, but when push comes to shove, who do you really want protecting you and your children; an experienced, armed, fellow Jew with his own family's safety at stake or a "40 minute" cop whose "main goals it to get home safely at the end of his shift"?



Published: 4 Apr 2002

Habits - not routine - is what sometimes separates survivors from victims. Having a set routine that a person bent on doing you or your family harm puts you at a disadvantage and gives the edge to the perp. Habits, if well thought out and practiced, reverses the victim/survivor advantage. The following list is a suggestion for establishing the practitioner as a prudent person and will aid in protecting the self and family. Satisfying each of these questions in a timely manner will help ensure a safe future. This is not meant to be a "one person" activity as all members of a family would benefit, individually as well as a unit if all practiced the following.


LEAVING HOME: * Is today's outing of higher risk than normal? Are we going into a high crime area? Is this necessary? What is the best route to take - safety wise? * Am I in condition yellow? Does everything appear to be normal? Is there any strange packages or appendages on/near the outside door? The car? Are there any strangers or strange cars lurking? * Do I have my cell phone? Is the battery up or is the backup battery fully charged?

UPON ARRIVAL AT YOUR DESTINATION: * Does everything appear to be normal? Do people seem to be in an extreme hurry? Do any persons seem to be frozen in place? * Where are the exit locations? Do the doors swing in or out? Are there any barriers that would impede my travel should the lights fail.

UPON ARRIVING AT HOME: * Upon arrival, do not drive right up into the driveway/garage. Stop your vehicle short of a point that precludes rapid escape. * From the vantage point of your fail safe escape position: Does the premise look secure? Are there any unusual sounds? Windows, doors secure? Are there any unaccounted for packages? Are there any strangers or unrecognizable vehicles on or near you driveway? * Is everyone home that should be?

BEFORE RETIRING FOR THE NIGHT: * Is everyone home that should be? Are the doors locked and night lights set? Is your cell phone on charge or ready for the next day? Are all defensive weapons (BB bat, knives, guns, ????) where they should be?

AIR TRAVEL:  The rules keep changing - make sure you know what is expected, permitted and not permitted. Today, attempting to carry aboard an aircraft anything that can be used as a weapon is prohibited including such everyday items as metal nail files, nail clippers, pen knives, even the 16oz size of hair spray. The list in not only extensive, but is, for all intents and purposes, secretive. A call to the Greater Cincinnati Airport police brought the comment that they were not allowed to discuss the matter and a suggestion to call Delta Airlines. Delta said they wouldn't tell either and suggested calling the FAA. Advice? Have a check list of carry-on things: wallet, keys, money, cell phone and reading material. Everything else should be in checked baggage.

As of this writing, security only confiscates these possible "weapons." Tomorrow they may arrest you for having a nail clipper in your purse/pocket! *

ON BOARD CHECK LIST: Make sure a sizeable adult is seated at the emergency exits - someone with enough physical strength to force the door open in an emergency. If the subject seat is occupied by a child or frail looking person, speak to the flight attendants about your concerns. Observe/count seats from your seat to all escape doors. * Keep in the forefront of your mind that once the plane leaves the ground you're all in this together - and if sacrificing your life will save the flight from the lethal actions of a crazed person, be proud of your heritage as an American Jew.



Published: 15 Aug 2002

It would be nice if there was some magical moves, words or tactics that would immediately stop a criminal attack. Those who are not familiar with the martial arts or firearms usually (falsely) believe that if they were proficient with hand to hand combat technique or a master shot they could survive anything. There is no magic and no matter how good you are at self defense there are to many variables to guarantee survival. Being practiced at defensive use of hands and feet or weapons certainly helps - immensely, but in lethal force situations there are no promises, just like there are no second place winners.

However, there is one technique that can and will make a huge difference in surviving a lethal assault. And, this tactic is not dependent upon physical strength, ability or expertise with weapons or the martial arts. Unfortunately this survival trick cannot be taught - it can be learned, but not taught in the normal sense of the word. As a certified firearms instructor, I can teach you how to become proficient with a gun - how to hit the target and even when to shoot. But, teaching you - why - is all up to you.

This powerful tactic, the "why" in "why am I going to survive?" is found in your mind-set. For those who make up their mind to survive - to win, to overcome all odds, pull all stops at any and all expense - have the greatest chance to survive. I'm not saying that fighting, i.e., physically resisting, is necessary for all confrontation. Capitulation and surrendering your physical assets to a robber might be the best option. But, once it becomes clear that your life or your loved one's life is about to be snuffed, your mind-set might be the only thing that saves you (recognizing the danger shift is the subject of another column).

Do not make the mistake of believing that criminals subscribe to your level of morality or sense of fairness. There are evil people out there, superpredators, who are excited by and encouraged by fear and pleading. They will show you no mercy - expect none - give none.

In martial arts they talk about mind-set as part of the whole package of lethal force fighting. The Korean word, Koryo, equates to survival mind-set. The word roughly translates in English: "unyielding spirit and strong conviction." It is the spirit or will to survive - the ability to retaliate without reserve. It is the key to winning close encounters of the heart stopping kind. One whose mind is set on survival will have made the conscious decision not to stop attacking the attacker until he is incapacitated. As gross as it might seem, one with Koryo will not hesitate to gouge eyes, bite, rip the Adam's apple, squeeze the life out of testicles or anything to live to see another day.

Lethal force encounters are not games with rules of fair play. You can't call "kings" or "times" when you stub your toe and expect the bad guy to give you an opportunity to regroup. Neither should you give any quarter. If the attacker verbally calls it quits don't relax only to be taken in by a cunning perpetrator playing on the persona of American fair play. This person with whom you are engaged in mortal combat might have a hidden weapon or a second or third weapon! It's all up to you. How bad do you want to survive? Is your mind set to do dispicable things to another human being? Do you have Koryo? If not, you might be just another victim in waiting.



Published: 20 Jun 2002

Recently, the Ohio laws restricting the carrying of concealed firearms were declared unconstitutional. The case is now before the Ohio Supreme Court. Even if this court over-rules the appeals court and somehow finds the laws are fundamentally okay, the legislature is poised to enact a permit system. One way or the in Ohio, like 42 other states, it will be permissible to carry a concealed firearm.

We are living in one of the safest countries in the world where our police are efficient, trusted and response time to a three- digit cell-phone call is measured in minutes. Of course, nothing is forever, except maybe that Jews will always be the scapegoats of society's dregs. Regardless of those facts, the police not only do not have a duty to protect you individually, but under certain circumstances they may not be able to respond to your call for help in a timely manner - or at all.

Worse case scenario: Suppose there are riots in the city and all police are "tied-up" with keeping the peace and restoring order. If, during this period of civil insurrection, some thug or rioter is about to attack you or your home, what are your options? Perhaps, because you live in Wyoming or Amberley Village and since the riots are downtown, you can expect "your" police to be available. Not necessarily. Most police (and fire) departments have mutual assistance pacts whereas, when an emergency is declared in one district, police from other jurisdictions can be utilized. It happens all the time on a small scale where one or two officers of a small agency need help with the arrest of a subject or to serve a warrant and calls for backup. On a large scale such as during the race riots of 1968, officers from most every suburb were standing shoulder to shoulder with Cincinnati's finest in Avondale and other hot spots.

But maybe a "best" case scenario is more realistic. Maybe it's just a regular Friday night and while returning from services a thug is surprised ransacking your home. In the time it takes to call 911 and for the police to respond (we're only talking minutes here) this dirtbag, high on drugs and sans any remorse, comes at you. Of what value are all the rules, laws, restraining orders, 911 calls, burglar alarms, hand to hand combat technics, aerosol spray Mace, police officers, now?

Carrying an instrument that can produce instant and irrevocable physical damage, i.e., death to another human, conveys latent and prime facie perils to the carrier as well as others. Just strapping on a mega-shot tool of destruction without proper mental, physical and ergonomic prerequisites could render the carrier more of a victim than one might wish.

Packing a concealed firearm requires the carrier to not only be sufficiently trained in its use as well as be knowledgeable of the consequences of its exploitation and the impact its utilization will have on the user.

Regardless of all the rights to carry a concealed firearm, if you can't, in all honesty, kill another person then you have no business packing a weapon. Brandishing a lethal weapon and being unable, for any reason, to use it could result in that weapon being taken away and used to kill you, your spouse, your child or another innocent person. If you survive, your lethal force actions could later be judged your direct or indirect fault thus costing not only the mental anguish of your foolhardy bravado, but may ensue civil as well as criminal action against you.

If you believe that carrying a gun will somehow enable you to bluff your way out of dangerous situations, you might be "dead" wrong. Lethal force confrontations are not poker games. Losers with nothing to lose can't be bluffed!

If you plan to exercise your right to carry a gun, make sure you receive use of lethal force training. Knowing how to shoot is the easy part. Knowing when is the important part.



Published: 29 Aug 2002

I know, I know, your mother always told you. "better to be a live coward than a dead hero." However, you're an adult now and times they are a changin'. Of course the goal is to be both alive and a hero, but if it comes to putting yourself in harm's way or even sacrificing your life to save your family or fellow congregants, best your cowardice not result in someone else's demise.

This year the High Holy Days come early. The significance of this is: September 11 falls between Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashona. If ever there was a time for a Jew to be vigilant, alert and prepared these ten days are it. The message "On Rosh Hashona it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed: How many shall pass on, how many shall come to be; who shall live and who shall die...." doesn't mean you have to leave your fate entirely in G-d's hands. It is your option to ask by your thoughts, acts and deeds as to "who shall be secure" just as "who shall be poor and who shall be rich is influenced by perseverance.

Circa 1957 front 2nd

Terrorist attacks upon our places of worship, the Jewish Center and restaurants that cater to Jews could come in the form of: 1) planted bombs; 2) suicide bombers; 3) machine gun wielding terrorists; 4) sniper attacks.

What can be done? Plenty!

1) Have armed security patrol your synagogue. Augment security guards with off-duty police officers and members who have had experience with guns. Even just one member, on the inside with a gun, can make a significant difference should terrorist burst in during services. On the 9-11 flight that went down in Pennsylvania, the "Lets Roll" heros all might have lived if one had had a gun.

2) Keep your coats open and your hands in view when approaching security guards and the entrance to your building. Suicide bombers and machine gun toting terrorists must keep their coats closed so as not to show their weapons.

3) Gear up to code yellow. Pay attention to anything that might seem out of the ordinary - report it immediately. Mentally condition yourself to act in the event of an assault. As you arrive, by car or on foot, keep your head up, constantly moving it from side to side, trust your "sixth sense". In a friendly way, challenge strangers or ask others who they are. On the inside, observe exit locations and train your charges to do the same.

Our enemies, and there are many of them in this country, have proven their expertise at killing us and should they target a local gathering, timely heroic actions by "observant" Jews can most assuredly limit the carnage.

See ya at services. I'll be one of the armed members - as I have been for the past 30 years.



Published: 14 Nov 2002

There is a "self-defense" class, "SURVIVE!," making the rounds that defines threats based on four types of perpetrators. The basis of the instruction, taught by a woman whose only apparent qualification is, she is the wife of a police officer, is how to survive lethal force assaults when you are unarmed. These classes have been conducted in many cities and have been shown on PBS stations. The four threats, according to her theory, are: Money, Frustration, Psychotic, Assassin.

The ASSASSIN threat was dismissed as there was nothing one could do if targeted by an person randomly, or purposely shooting people. She said the Assassin is the most dangerous of the four. No argument there. But, there are acts and procedures that can make a difference should some sniper opens fire. Your best move might be to keep moving, as in move quickly to cover. A moving target is most difficult to hit and while on the move you will be able to determine where the fire is coming from. Of course, solid concrete walls are best, but any cover is better than being in the open inasmuch as once out of the gunman's sights he will, hopefully, lose interest in you.

According to the instructor the person who is only after your MONEY will not harm you. She fails to enlighten her students in how one can tell the perpetrator is only after your money. Maybe she can tell, but my investigation turned up, "only the Shadow knows what evil lurks in the heart of man." As further proof, please recall Michael Baney, the musician who was shot dead AFTER giving up all his money in the Over-the-Rhine, parking-lot robbery a few years ago.

The cop's wife defines the FRUSTRATION person as one who can hurt you. Someone who has a political agenda, a guy mad at traffic, a spouse, government or.... The instructor's shtik - and this is the heart of her program - is to use verbal commands to intimidate your assailant and to keep him from getting within elbow distance. Once a perp is that close (she uses a hula hoop to demonstrate one's personal space), she champions a strike for the Adam's Apple.

The PSYCHOTIC, she admits, is a dangerous person, but he and all others can be dealt with if one does not allow them to get closer than elbow distance. Again, this is assuming the attack is by an unarmed person.

Unarmed self-defense tactics against an unarmed assailant are very effective - if you are sufficiently practiced and have the physical strength to incorporate them. If, however, the attack is one of close proximity, a. la., an armed crazed killer who opens fire while you are standing in line at El Al or in your synagogue, your reaction might be different. Here, screaming, hiding, cowering probably won't make much difference. There are only two reasons a massacrer stops massacring; he runs out of ammunition or some brave soul disables him. If you're close to the shooter, attack him - even if it is only with your bare hands. Oh, sure, you'll probably be killed, but if enough of you rush him, he will be stopped. Besides, the bullet he expends on you might have been meant for a child. If you're not close (over 15-20 yards away), keep moving - fast - until you are out of harms way - and drag someone with you.

Strong verbal commands, when time permits, do have a controlling effect on some types of criminals - those who have become institutionalized - used to capitulating to the orders of a jailer. Others, especially those with authority figure problems, might respond with violence to anyone who attracts attention to themselves by shouting. The greatest fallacy of relying on the physical defense tactics of striking for the Adam's Apple is, if you miss this tiny spot or your thrust is weak your attacker is going to be really angry! Only those who continually train at this practiced tactic and are physically capable can, with any reliability, effectively strike the Adam's apple of another person - especially if the perp is significantly larger in height and/or stature.

Other alternatives might be: always remain in Code Yellow, mentally prepare yourself to resist assault and if ever under attack, go for the eyes, the groin and the Adam's Apple - over and over again until the threat has past.




Persecution begins with distrust, innuendo, and, most of all, the perpetuation of anti-Jewish lies. It ends with a Holocaust, Inquisition or similar such acts of political correctness. It is up to us to not only stop discrimination when exposed to it, but to make sure we don't perpetuate derogatory communiqués that cast us in a bad light.

Recently, via e-mail, I received a "Jewish joke" from a non-Jew. This man is know to me only through a service organization to which we both belong. The "joke" was a variation of a very old story where a school teacher asks her students what they did for Christmas. The first child says he went to church, sang carols and went to bed early where he dreamed of St. Nick. The second child, ditto. But the third child, a Jew, says his family also sang songs and celebrated Christmas. When queried further by the teacher, the Jewish boy explained "we all went to our father's toy factory where, while looking at the empty shelves, we sang, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus,' and then we all went to Bermuda."

It's not even funny, unless you believe all Jews are callus, self-serving money-grubbers - as, unfortunately, some do. It's one thing to circulate this type of debauchery among those of the same persuasion, but it's another matter when the butt of the joke is on one of a different background. In other words, for example, a black could tell another African-American a joke that projects their ancestors as lazy and shiftless, but no other group has the right to make fun of that misconception. A Jew can depict his fellow Jews anyway he wants - to other Jews, but a Jew should never tell a joke to a Christian that depicts them as, say, war-mongers.

I sent my fellow service club member an e-mail telling him I found the joke to be offensive. He responded with the old self-serving line: "Some of my very closest friends are Jewish." He then went on to say how he admires the accomplishments of the Jews almost to the point of where Bill Shakespeare would have said, "Me thinks the man doth protest too much."

In an attempt to justify his position and make me look like a guy who can't take a joke, he included in his letter an e- mail address of whom he said originated the joke and a list of original recipients - all, he pointed out, with "Jewish surnames." He did not forward the original e-mail - only the names and the e-mail address. I immediately sent the originator an e-mail noting that I found it to be offensive, hurtful and not the kind of image we Jews should allow to fall into the hands of non-Jews. The e-mail came back as not a good address. With 25+ years as a PI/cop, the red flags were flying. Giving the service club member the benefit that maybe he incorrectly copied the e-mail address, I sent another message requesting he forward the original e-mail. He replied with another refusal and then went on to say the joke was received from a local friend of his who claimed he got the joke from "...a former executive of Levy [sic] Strauss (Jewish himself)...." Now I've got him. He either lied about the e-mail address or he's lying about the Levi Strauss connection. And, of course, if he'd lie about that, what else is he lying about?

At the next meeting of our service club, he told me he was upset because at the last (service club's) Division meeting I asked the person who was giving the invocation to offer a non-denominational prayer instead of the usual benediction that ended with the line, "in Jesus' name we pray".

Is this man an anti-Semite? Perhaps. Does he mean us harm? Maybe, but he sure is no friend of the Jews. Liars, who perpetuate hurtful stereotypes of us or any minority is what leads to hard feelings, and then distrust and then discrimination and then....

In light of the increasing world-wide anti-Semitism, the United States, this year, enacted Senate Bill 925. The new law requires the Department of State to add new language to the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom (Sec. 102 (b)(1), 22 U.S.C. 6412(b)(1). Under this new directive, anti-Semitism is defined as, among other definitions, "Societal attitudes toward people of the Jewish faith and trends relating to such attitudes."

If you are the recipient of a "Jewish joke," from a non-Jew, please make the originator and anyone that forwarded/repeated the depiction aware of the hurt and future damage such negative verbiage has on us all. If confrontation is not something you are comfortable with, contact me and I'll do it for you. For our own security on all fronts, we must stick together as our detractors are varied, vast and sometimes disguised.



Published: 8 May 2003

Security, especially during these times of war and terrorist activities, is most certainly hardware and hard defenses. Under such conditions it is easy to become lax in our vigilance in other matters. Historically, Jews tend to be very trusting and are usually quick to grant the benefit of a doubt. Nevertheless, it's just as easy to assume there's a snake under every rock as not - but, the one who assumes so is seldom bit. Here's an accounting of a current situation - you be the judge. 

There is an old saying among those who need such axioms: "A lie well-told and stuck-to, is as good as the truth." Of course, it doesn't apply to something that can be conclusively proven such as claiming the sun sets in the east, betting on baseball or whether a certain law is on the books.
Recently, I found it necessary to secure a general power of attorney for an aged relative. I drew up the document in the same manner and wording as I had on previous occasions for others. With a notary public in tow, I visited my relative who was most grateful for my relieving her of such matters as banking and bill paying.

Next, I presented the executed document at my relative's bank, PNC, Dillionvale office, where it was refused - sort of. The bank did allow me access to the account for transaction history and a current statement, but balked at any other fiduciary duties I might wish to transact. Their reason for this "only a little pregnant" policy, the PNC manager said in all sincerity and officialness (this is where the lie well-told part comes in), "Ohio law requires language contained in a POA to the effect that the person granting the POA be mentally or physically incapacitated."

I exclaimed that I was not aware of such a law and requested a copy of this law or the title, chapter and section so I could read it for myself. They refused (this is where the "stuck-to" part comes in), saying to do so would constitute legal advice and he (the manager) was not an attorney and thus could not disseminate that information.

They continued to stonewall as I explained: 1) The bank had de facto accepted my POA by allowing me access to my relative's banking history, 2) The notarized document was the same as I had used on previous occasions for others, 3) Requiring one to be "mentally or physically incapacitated" in order to take advantage of a POA would preclude healthy persons traveling out of town for extended periods of time and, 4) The incorporating of medical definitions/terms into a legal document would, for all intents and purposes, empower a notary to determine the physical and mental capacities of the signer - something not in the Ohio notary law.

I recognize the bank's fiduciary duty to protect their clients from persons who might wish to raid a relative's account, but that claim doesn't hold water in the PNC matter. The bank failed to ask to see my photo ID - before or after tendering the history documents and changing the account status. Plus, they refused to accept my suggestion of phoning the nursing home administrator who notarized the POA and/or my relative to confirm or deny her intentions.

As it stands now, the subject POA has been accepted by the Ohio Department of Human Services and Cedar Village, where my relative lives. Mean while my relative is unable to close her account to stop the bank's service charges from depleting the last of her meager net worth. In addition, I have researched the law, consulted an attorney and confirmed, as I suspected, there is no such law requiring a POA to contain the conditions claimed by the PNC bank. The bank's public relations agent did call to request that I have my lawyer call them to discuss the matter. Being under no obligation to provide such information and the fact that an attorney is not necessary to draft a POA, I, nonetheless, agreed if they would pay for my lawyer's time. The PR agent refused and also refused to discuss the matter with me other than to say she had researched the subject law and - found it on the internet! When asked for this web site location, she stated she was not a lawyer and thus couldn't give me that information (another lie; as producing a www-dot-com address could hardly constitute "legal advice").

I've been racking my brain to understand PNC's justification for invoking the "lies well-told" doctrine, and three questions come to mind: 1) If the bank believed the POA to be illegal, and still provided me with the requested statement, what other trust would they violate? 2) Is their lack of candor related to my relative's address - a Jewish nursing home? 3) If PNC bank would ignore the written and legal instructions of a client, what else are they up to?



Published: 9 Jan 2003

We joke about having a "plan B" when things don't go right the first time, but when it comes to personal security, many don't even have a plan A. Everyone should have a Plan A, even if it is to only to observe, stay calm or run like hell.

Recently, there have been a series of survival guides such as the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook that, in a humorous way, tries to describe honest solutions to real, but, impossible situations. The book begat a TV series. Though entertaining, cluttering your mind with tactics for dealing with sharks, killer bees, jumping from a moving car or other matters you may never need to know might be questionable. The greatest benefit from these books/shows, however, might be in that they stimulate thinking and discussions on how to survive.

Police and firefighters play a game of "what would you do if" where one officer describes a scenario and the other officer then expounds upon what he would do under the tendered circumstances. It's an important learning/training experience and a great way to kill a little time when things start to drag around 4:00 a.m. Try it with friends and/or family members next time the conversation lags during a meal or car trip.

The Way it Was

Let's play now: What would you do if you and your young daughter are in a convenience store when an armed, masked man suddenly announces a holdup? Though you are unarmed and standing within five feet of him should you jump him? Probably not. What if, while waving his gun around, he points it at you? Your child? Again, probably not. What if, while pointing the gun at you, he says words to the effect that he is going to shoot you or take your daughter with him? Or, he orders everyone to lie on the floor - face down. Now we're getting into the Plan B time. There's lots worse things than being killed by some thug - one is: watching a family member die at the hands of this thug because or your inability to act.

Plan B is the line-in-the-sand, the point-of-no-return, the pull-all-stops position where blend-in, prayer or compliance is forsaken for active and drastic action. It is the point where you have pre-decided that if you don't act not only will the present danger increase, but your window of opportunity or the advantage of surprise will be lost. For each person this line-in-the-sand is different, but usually only incrementally.

Plan B is more than re-acting, it is acting based on a mind-set worked out in advance. A person without a Plan B, in the convenience store matter, would most likely try to physically hold on to their daughter and/or become hysterical. Either reaction draws attention and might further aggravate the robber, who, in an attempt to eliminate the source of aggravation, could begin shooting. Whereas, someone with a Plan B and the grit to put it into play might distract the robber, which will allow the daughter time to escape.

What could be done? Aside from grabbing the robber's gun, one might look and walk away, waving and shouting "POLICE, OVER HERE." Or, while knocking things from the shelves and shouting, "DIRTY #@$%&*, THEY'VE BEEN RIPPING ME OFF FOR YEARS - ROB 'EM ALL." Of course, if you haven't played the game your daughter might not know this is her cue to run....

The brave passengers of the hi-jacked airliner that crashed in the Pennsylvania country side, September 11, obviously and communally determined they had reached their point-of-no-return. It was at this "let's roll" point they decided things would get worse if they didn't act. Surely they believed their death was certain if they failed to take any action. Once that conclusion, consciously or subconsciously, was reached they were sure that they would improve their situation from certain death to survival might be possible if they attacked the terrorists. Of course there are no guarantees in life and though their actions were not successful, inasmuch as they themselves died, their heroic deaths saved many other lives.

Some criminals only want money, others enjoy terrorizing but don't intend to kill while a few kill for kicks, gang initiation rites, political agendas or.... How can you tell? Sometimes you can't - for certain - but key words or tell-tale body language, to those who think survival have the best chance of surviving or, at least, of saving others.



Published: 17 Apr 2003

From early childhood we're told: Don't run across streets, lock your doors and never argue with a traffic cop. It is never explained why (at least to me it wasn't). Here are some of the REASONS:

WALKING (approaching any potentially dangerous situation): When an emergency, such as a car suddely changing lanes and presenting a threat, you are able to increase your speed at least three fold (by beginning to run). This safety factor is akin to having a Plan B. In other words, if you are operating at full speed there is no backup or auxiliary plan to counter an unforeseen danger.

The mind is a unique computer inasmuch as you approach a street you can, without much conscious thought, compute the time and distance of traffic in relation to where you will be. This tabulating of factors begins about 10 - 20 feet before you step off the curb - time-wise, about 2-3 seconds (given a normal walking speed of 3 MPH). If you are running at 9 MPH, you have now reduced your mental computing time to one second or less.

Of course, if you fall while running across a street (a greater chance than while walking) your computation of approaching vehicles is significantly altered because your speed and direction will be impacted.

LOCKING DOORS: On it's face, keeping doors locked seems the prudent thing to do to keep bad guys out. In reality, it doesn't, but it does give great weight to criminal intent. Meer locks, especially those that only secure glassed enclosures, such as automobiles or a front door, are of no deterrent to a thug bent on entry. If the perpetrator is able to gain access to your car, home, boat, etc., without producing any evidence of force, he can, if caught, say that it was you who invited him in and then attacked him. To an investigating police officer, everyone is treated the same - all are presumed to be telling the truth until the evidence proves otherwise. Just because you appear to be an upstanding, clean-cut citizen doesn't mean the police (and the courts) are required, absent evidence to the contrary, to accept your story over that of some dirtbag (who will be the picture of wholesomeness when attending court).

DISPUTING A TRAFFIC STOP is akin to expectorating into the wind. In grammar school we learned all Americans are presumed innocent until proven guilty. That's still true, except in the matter of traffic tickets.

Traffic violators, per se, are de facto guilty until they prove themselves innocent in court. That's not exactly the way the law is written, but that's the effect. When you are stopped for a traffic violation you are, in reality, having your trial right there on the street. If you can't convince the cop that you don't deserve a ticket the chances of convincing a judge are almost non-existent. There is a reason for this.

In the court room, where all are sworn to tell the truth, it usually comes down to your word against that of the arresting officer. If, for instance, you claim that the light was not red and the cop swears it was, the judge is going to have to decide who is telling the truth and who isn't. To find you not guilty he would, for all intents and purposes, have to call the arresting officer a liar. This is not to say that one of you is lying. It could be that due to the different observation points of the parties, it appeared to the officer the light was red and to you the light was not. The point is; the burden of proving the color of the light is with you.

Without uncontroverted evidence that the officer is not telling the truth, judges are most reluctant to rule against them for two reasons. First, to take the word of an ordinary citizen against that of a trained (and presumably unbiased) officer would tear at the very roots of the system. Second, and maybe more on the pragmatic level, a finding of not guilty is tantamount to leaving the arresting officer and his employer (usually the same one who pays the wages of the judge) open to a law suit for false arrest.

Cops, just like the rest of us, are human and make mistakes. Usually, if they realize they may have ticketed you in error or there were mitigating circumstances they will agree, with the consent of the prosecutor, to drop the charges. Sometimes, if the cop is embarrassed by his mistake he might not show up for court which means that the judge can dismiss the charge for lack of evidence. Dismissed charges are not the same as a finding of not guilty - law suit wise. 



Published: 14 Aug 2003 

Never underestimate the ingenuity of the American criminal. Just as sure as a new law is written, a burglar-proof lock is marketed or a secure credit card scheme is introduced, someone will figure out a way to beat it. Here are a few tips and facts to keep in mind:

Auto Theft: The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is visible through your windshield. With this number a thief, upon visiting the appropriate car dealer, can obtain a duplicate set of keys. Of course, placing a piece of paper or tape over the VIN eliminates this avenue of theft. However, some states require the VIN be visible thus leaving you in a Catch 22.

Protecting Valuables: House burglars, in their search for your valuables, will empty all drawers, pull every book from the shelf and rip open every locked or unlocked closet or cabinet door. Where can you hide things? Wrap items in aluminum foil and hide it in your freezer. Place jewelry and other small valuables in the bottom of a pot among your pots and pans (trashing cook ware is to noisy for most burglars). The hollow handle of mops, tools or the shower curtain rod are great places to keep anything that fits. Cold air return ducts to your forced air heating system are also inconspicuous hiding places. Make sure your imaginative locations are written down and placed in a separate location (safe deposit box) lest you forget or your heirs need access.

Credit Cards: When credit cards first came into use we were advised to cut them up when they expire because you had to physically present a card for purchases. Today, all you need is the number and, an easy to determine, expiration date. Now the safest way to destroy old cards is to cut them in half, but throw away one half now and the second half in next week's trash. Unless you shred, dispose of statements, invoices or correspondence that contain identification numbers.

Upscale Tricks: Professional burglars have been known to ask to use the phone in a local retail store to call their intended victim (the victims caller ID will show the store's number) telling them they have won a dinner and show for free. The thief then makes the dinner reservations knowing the victims will be absent from their home during this time.

Records: Keep a list of your credit cards with their contact numbers to report loss. Or better still, photo copy each item in your wallet and keep this list/copy in a safe deposit box. Do not carry anything with your social security number printed on it. It's not so much the loss of a credit card that matters (you are generally limited to a very low liability, usually $50), as it is the loss of your identity. Having someone else assume your identity can have far reaching consequences when this person commits crimes for which arrest warrants are issued. Check the accuracy of your credit report annually.

Common Sense: Keeping doors - including garage doors - and windows locked won't keep a good burglar out, but it will discourage opportunist. Those who act on a whim, usually won't bother with a secure location when the neighbor's door is standing open. Also, the absence of a forced lock makes for very difficult insurance claims.

Numbers: If you have been a victim of identify theft or had your credit card numbers stolen or misused, call the three credit reporting organizations to place a fraud alert on your credit status and social security number. The three are: Equifax, 800-525-6285; Experian (was TRW), 888-397-3742 and Trans Union, 800-680- 7289.

The Social Security Administration fraud line can be reached at 800-269-0271. Also, you can call 888-567-8688 to opt-out of pre-approved credit offers. This not only reduces the amount of spam and junk mail, but stops these companies from accessing your credit report and all the numbers in it.

Identification: Keeping valuables and copies of valuable documents in a safe deposit box is not without peril. If your wallet, with your all your photo ID is stolen, how will you access your safe deposit box? How will the bank differentiate between you and the person who has assumed your identity? Of course, there are no guarantees in life, but asking the bank to keep a notarized physical description and photograph of you on file for just such exigent circumstance is prudence.


NON-LETHAL OPTIONS, Are they Pragmatic?

Published: 13 Mar 2003

Though, there are many options in the defensive hardware field, there is still no ultimate weapon. The most important factor is still mind-set. Regardless of which state-of-the-art weapon is at your disposal, if you are not trained AND practiced with it, if your mind-set is not FIRST thinking of its use, it is of little value. If initial reaction, at the presentation of a possible lethal encounter, is to run then that is what you will most likely do. If you are a person able to shout orders and directions, in a commanding voice, this might be your best line of defense if ever under assault. Of course, running might not be an option in your own home or in the company of children or aged parents and voice commands usually only work when immediately backed-up by a show-of-force.


Mechanical implements designed to stop serious criminal attacks are only as effective as the user's ability to use them AND their will to use them. The most effective of all personal arms is, of course, the handgun. Its functioning is relatively simple to master for use in close quarter combat situation, it's easy to conceal, requires very little maintenance and is very reliable.

Many civilized people are very reluctant to carry guns because of the permanent harm they can inflict. These, well intentioned citizens, see themselves as humanitarians or maybe as brilliant negotiators who think that a fellow citizen, murderous intent and all, can be handled with resistance other than lethal force. If you are one of those who believe that psychological tough talk will enable you to bluff your way - and maybe your child's way too - out of a dangerous situation, you might be wrong...dead wrong. Super-predators - losers with nothing to lose - can't be bluffed.

Let's look at a few in-Vogue alternative less-than-lethal options:

STUN GUNS: The concept and practice is innovative and under ideal conditions, very effective. The "gun" fires two darts that remain connected to the gun via a wire. When impacted with a human a very high charge of electricity causes the target to immediately collapse. There are a few inherent problems with this weapon: 1) It only contains one shot/charge, i.e., if you miss there is no second chance. 2) If the target is wearing heavy or loose clothing the probability of failure is significant. 3) The effects of the electrical stun wear off quickly. This defensive tool is best left to police officers who not only carry handcuffs to secure the subject before he regains his composure, but cops also carry guns just in case.

SAFE ROOMS: This is a great idea for protection against tornados or other catastrophic environmental dangers but not practical as a shield from criminal invasion. Safe rooms in a home or other dwellings must remain open until all authorized persons are safe inside. Of course, while it's open the invader also has access. Additionally, doors, door jambs, windows and walls that can keep out a 220# man bent on entry would have to be very stout and might act more as a trap, especially if the perpetrator sets the building on fire.

PEPPER SPRAY: The latest in the hand held, Mace type, sprays, Pepper Spray (Oleoresin Capsicum) is most effective against human as well as dogs, bears or other animals. There are a few intrinsic problems with its use: 1) If sprayed into the wind or in an enclosed space such as an automobile, the sprayer might receive a greater dose than the sprayee. 2) Use on an enraged and/or drugged assailant might not be sufficient to stop the attack. 3) These aerosol canisters cannot be left in automobiles or places where the temperature could reach -15 or +125 degrees. Most police officers carry an OC canister on their belt, but, again like the stun gun, cops also carry a handgun - just in case.

We are in an era of potential unwarranted, terroristic and deadly criminal attacks - especially against Jews. Prudence is measured in mental and tactical prepardness and where having an effective defense equates to a good offense, i.e., a plan to attack the attacker. If you are a parent, grandparent or care for aged parents, it is your duty to not only have a strategy, but the mind-set, tools and means of carrying out the plan - choose wisely and train often.

Chuck Klein, is a Licensed Private Investigator and former Police Officer, Active member of American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers (ASLET), holder of a Bachelor of Laws degree and author of two novels and many police and firearm related books. He may be contacted through his web site: Please send your security related questions, for consideration of inclusion in future columns, to CHUCK KLEIN, c/o American Israelite, 906 Main Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202 or e-mail via the above web site.