The Tennessee Star Report Talks to Brentwood Police Officer, Scott Willey About How to Stay Smart and Safe This Holiday Season

On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the duo spoke with Brentwood Police Officer Scott Willey about how to be aware and protect yourself this holiday season and strategies on how to prevent an attack .

Gill: I was talking with one of my friends in the Brentwood Police Department, Scott Willey the other day and he was talking about some of things that they’re seeing in law enforcement not just in Brentwood, Williamson County but across Middle Tennessee that kind of raised my eyebrows on wow, we need to let people know what to be aware of, particularly during this holiday season.  Your running around, it’s rushed, it’s chaos, it gets dark early.  So how do you protect your property when your heading to the mall or your heading to a shopping center somewhere.  We’re seeing an increase in violence and crime in Nashville and it’s bleeding into, no pun intended, suburban areas.  So I thought we’d get Scott on to give us just some tips, some advice on how to keep your “head on a swivel” in military terms, stay off the X, where you’re not going to be the target of these folks who are trying to take your stuff or hurt your family. And Brentwood police officer, Scott Willey a US Military Veteran, served a couple of terms in Afghanistan and a great buddy of ours is on the line with us.  And Scott good morning!

Willey:  Hey good morning guys, how are ya’ll?

Gill: Good thank you again for what you do on the street.  Thank you for what you’ve done in military service. When we were talking the other day you were mentioning that, again sometimes I think people think criminals are dumb, their not very smart.  They’re very sophisticated most of the time and they know what they’re doing better sometimes than we know what we’re doing to protect ourselves. And you mentioned that there are these gangs, I don’t mean in terms of MS-13 gangs, but these groups of guys and gals, women and men.  They’ll literally watch a woman, see she doesn’t take her purse out of her car and they know they can literally break into the window and steal it faster than you even know the windows been broker out.

Willey: More instead of giving them that much credit of being incredibly intellectual, I would say clever is a good word to use. It’s how their morality is based around basically their activity. But, yeah so some of the things that we’re seeing a lot in our city is an increase in car burglaries and this is nothing new to Brentwood or to Williamson county. But there are some things you can do to safe guard yourself from that. First and foremost, view you’re vehicle as something that is not secured. I mean, I always, in my mind when I’m leaving my vehicle whether it’s locked or unlocked, anything I leave in my car I view that item or items, will I cry if it is stolen basically.  So, you never want to leave any items of high value in your vehicle.  But yes, you’re absolutely right, kind of what you were referencing as far as the “gang” that you’re talking about is really, it’s more of a tactic, and it originated in Florida.  Basically these folks they prey upon people who leave purses and other valuables in the vehicle.  But will watch for hours.  I mean, that’s what they do. They’ll come all across the Southeast United States.  They’ll watch people getting out of areas like the YMCA or parks, or anywhere there’s going to be a large population of people that are going to leave their vehicles.  So when you have a large group of people in a parking area or anything else like that, things to look out for are folks that are backed in the parking spot that are watching.  Because the tactic is simply, once they see a female especially get out of a vehicle without a purse that’s like a green light to them. There going to pull up right next to that car. We’ve watched security footage of people breaking windows of vehicles with other people not even ten feet away. So I talk to a lot of victims that are like “man I was right there, I had the car in sight, I thought everything was good.” But these folks are good at what they do.  They are clever.

Gill described how leaving any valuables in the trunk is not a solution as it can easily be popped.  Willey agreed stating that the people are watching and are able to figure out that people are “hiding” valuables in their car.  He state that this is something that the public can easily avoid by leaving expensive jewelry or laptops at home and taking your purse with you when you leave the car.  He questioned Scott about what else people could be aware of while out shopping as it is becoming darker much sooner in the day.

Willey: That’s a great question.  So as far as when you’re looking around, you want to be aware of your surroundings.  And you used the term “head on a swivel” when you were introducing me,  and that is a military term.  But basically what you want to be doing is a three hundred sixty degree scan as your walking.  You want to scan five yards in to twenty five yards out.  There is an instructor that I once heard that said, “awareness buys time and time buys opportunity.” It doesn’t matter if your on like Rambo and your walking through the parking lot.  If you can’t see the threat before you’ve made the decision to act then it does you no good.  You need to get your head out of your cell phone and you need be aware of your surroundings.  That’s just good general prudence. That’s not, that’s not even something you know, that we would convey in the tactical world, “tactical world”.  That’s just something that, it’s live.  You wanna have your head out of your phone when you’re walking into a store because you don’t want to get hit by a car.

Gill: I like that out of your phone, because I thought you were going somewhere else with that one Scott. (Leahy chuckles)  One of the things I know the military has actually spent some time trying to research is sometimes your instincts are picking up stuff you don’t even know your that  seeing.  I know that they’ve actually done research on some Commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq they’d say, “nah we’re not going down that alley, just it doesn’t feel right to me.” And they’re trying to figure out, what were they sensing?  The birds were less quite, there weren’t kids playing, whatever it was, the hair on the back of their neck was up and they trusted those instincts.  The same things true.  If it feels uncomfortable as you’re walking out to your car, listen to what you’re seeing or observing, even if you don’t know you’re observing it.

Willey went on to agree with Gill’s synopsis and noted that there is a book by Gavin De Becker, “Gift of Fear” where he talks about the gift of instinct.  He reflected upon how victims he’s spoken to have had that “gut feeling” and that the gift of fear is really a God given instinct. He reiterated that the five yards in twenty five yards out was a true motto and that you’ll find if you making eye contact with someone that their eyes will give them away and their intentions will be made known.

Gill: What about at home? I mean, right now again, people, they’re leaving for the holidays I mean, do you leave every light on, do you leave a couple lights on, I mean the on and off stuff?  What do you do to protect your home if you’re home or away.

Willey: So what I advise people as far as protecting their home is to have a plan that is layered.  You want to defensively layer your home.  And so there are many different things you can do to create these so called layers. The biggest thing that helps us from a law enforcement perspective when we’re responding to home burglaries’ during the holidays is if you have a video camera system that records, and I’m not down playing alarms, but that is way, way more valuable from an investigative standpoint than a burglar alarm.  Because the video camera, that’s going to get your stuff back. I mean all your jewelry is taken and you know you’ve got something for your son and that’s how we’re going to identify people, that’s how we’re going to figure how to solve a case. So having a good video system at your home is right now easier than ever because you can go on Amazon you can buy a home video system and hook it to your Wi-Fi.  You don’t have to run cables or anything like that.  Other layers would include having motion detecting lights outside.  Keeping lights on a timer.  Having a neighbor, if you don’t have that, having a neighbor come by and check things out when you’re out of town.

As the men returned from a brief break, Gill continued the conversation with Willey about his business which trains people in Tennessee about concealed carry and whether it’s better to carry openly.  Willey stated that he believes it’s safer to carry concealed and that it would prevent you a lot of grief and draw unnecessary attention to yourself.  He added that it could paint you as a target by criminals carrying opening and that carrying concealed was the way to go.  Gill stated that he believes that if you’ re carrying concealed you must have it accessible as you won’t have time to shuffle around your purse looking for it should the time arise.

Willey: Yeah that’s one thing.  Keeping your tools on you.  A lot of people look at firearms and you know they may be uncomfortable with it but I always tell my students it kind of like power tools.  If you’re uncomfortable around a minor saw then somebody needs to show you how to use it.  With the firearms, if it’s not within arms reach or preferably on you, it might as well be a million miles away. Because there is no way you are going to, once you hear the bump in the night run down into the basement, get it out of the safe and then come back up and investigate while armed.  Keeping your tools on you is critical.  Making sure that you carry on your person is  something I always advocate for. Make sure that you have it on you. You wouldn’t believe the number of carry permit holders that I pull over and they say, “Officer, I just want to let you know I have my carry permit but I’m not armed.” And the first question I ask them is, “Well why not?” And sometimes they give me a funny look and I ask them if they buckled up when they got in the car, and they say “Yeah, that’s the law.” And I’d say, “Well did you expect to get in a car accident?” And they say, “Well no.”  Then why’d you do it?”  And they say, “Just in case.” Well same point with a gun.  Just in case.

Gill: And be practiced at being able to pull it and how to use it and kind of know the price. Now you actually do classes on not just getting your carry permit but how you would act in a circumstance if you ever needed it. That there’s a difference in shooting to get your carry permit and in an active shooter situation where you’re in more of a combat role.

In conclusion Willey agreed with Gill’s statement and clarified that there is a difference between shooting and how to fight with firearms and that the dynamic is huge. He described that mindset and the tactics it encompassed is an important element but if you dont’ have the right mindset to defend yourself that you would be technically unprepared to fight.  Gill posed the question for people uncomfortable with firearms that prefer to use pepper spray or the like and what their options where in regards to defense.  Willey stated that the tools are not important, it’s the person that is trained to use it.  He stressed that carrying a flashlight is imperative in the evening and that it should be carried in your hand or if you are using mase, keeping that in your hands as well.  Gill mentioned Willey’s side business called Paladin Tower Tactics on Facebook and asked what can the people of Nashville do to keep the police force’s job more easier.  Willey stressed that keeping your hands in plain sight and turning on the interior light when getting pulled over would help officers see that you are unarmed and willing to cooperate.

Listen to the full segment:


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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

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