~If you see something suspicious, call 911!! The police stressed repeatedly that you don't have to wait for a crime to happen - knowing that there is something even a little suspicious helps them be alerted to the situation, and they can handle it appropriately. A student gave good advice - if you feel something isn't right, call the police and let them determine if it was really a threat or not.
~Calling 911 has NO EFFECT on your immigration status! If you are uncomfortable sharing your name to the 911 operator, you can ask to make the call anonymously and you will not have to give your name.
~Police encouraged everyone to "be a good witness" - if you do see something suspicious, notice as many details as you can and report these to police so they can be most effective in investigating the situation.
~Walk confidently, keep your head held high - not appearing to be intimidated makes you a less easy target
~Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Don't be distracted by something such as a phone that leaves you unaware of what's going on around you when you are walking or standing in public.
~Don't attract unwanted attention with overly expensive jewelry, watches, bags, etc on a day-to-day basis
~Keep cash out of site - if leaving an ATM, don't count the cash there, and put it away quickly so it's not a clear sign to anyone around you that you have a lot of cash
~Don't let others handle any of your person items, especially your phone - one student shared a story that an 8 year old kid asked to use her phone, and she later realized his intent was to steal it (she made a call for him instead, and the number was not in service).
~Self Defense laws in the US allow you to retaliate if attacked with equal or lesser intensity, in self defense only (not after the event has passed). Weapons may not be carried in public, including knives, but individuals wanting to arm themselves in some way are encouraged to use Pepper spray, which can be carried and does not require any training to use effectively. Pepper spray can be purchased at outdoor stores, such as Bass Pro Shop in Arundel Mills Mall.
~Lastly, police shared the tip "Run, Hide, Fight" which is a series of steps to take if you are attacked. If possible, they encourage you to run away. If this is not possible, you can hide if possible. If this is also not an option, only then should you fight back. They referenced a video that explains these terms related to an "active shooter event" specifically, meaning if there is a gunmen in the same area you are in, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0
We hope these tips help you to feel safe in your neighborhoods, and invite you to please follow up with us or the Baltimore County police officers that work in our area