This morning, in the lees of my post about how the Senate GOP majority is likely to misplay their hand in regard to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford*, commenter dimmsdale asked the following question:
Adam, if you know, Id be curious to get an expert’s view of the kind of protection she should have. Thinking the sort of services Gavin DeBecker offers. do I have that right?
I’m generally familiar with DeBecker’s work, but cannot comment on exactly what his firm does as I’ve no first hand experience with it or him. I do hold a personal security and close quarters combatives tactical certification from a training course I took when I was in graduate school back in 1994. I took the course from one of DeBecker’s competitors. Other than working as one of the lead bouncers (coolers) at a large entertainment venue/nightclub for a few years in grad school, I have never actually been employed to do this type of work. I had the opportunity to take the course, decided it would be an interesting adjunct to martial arts training, and the added bonus was that British Special Operations legend Lofty Wiseman was one of the instructors!
Over the summer, I was contacted by one of our readers asking what I recommended for a friend who needed personal security protection due to an ongoing set of legal issues. My sanitized (references to location, person, etc.) recommendations are below as an answer to dimmsdale’s question.
- I’m not sure I still have enough details, so keep that in mind when reading the following.
- The first thing your friend’s attorney needs to do is contact the local police and get something documented on the record about: a) the harassment that’s already happened and b) the general concern for your friend’s safety. This may include needing to request a restraining order/order of protection.
- If your friend and her attorneys are seriously concerned, then professionals need to be hired. Have the attorneys check to see if they can hire local law enforcement off duty to a) stay with your friend and park their cruisers in her driveway while doing so and b) serve as a personal security detail.
- If local law enforcement where you’re at doesn’t do this, then the attorneys need to ask for increased police patrols in her neighborhood and at her place of work.
- If local law enforcement where you’re at doesn’t do this, then the attorneys need to hire professionals who work in work in your state. Usually these will be private investigators/private security professionals licensed to work in your states and often these folks are retired law enforcement, military, and/or intelligence personnel. They should be licensed, bonded, and insured. If the latter is not the case, then your friend’s attorney will need to ascertain the liability insurance that will be need to be purchased, and then purchased, in order to legally protect whomever you’ve hired to provide personal security.
- If they’re targeting your friend, change her appearance. If she’s got long hair, cut it short. If she’s got short hair, change the style and start letting it grow out or get a good wig. If she’s blonde, die it a dark color. If she’s brunette or has black hair, dye it blonde. If she’s conservative, style it provocatively and die it hot pink, purple, and green. If she likes to dress casual – jeans, t-shirts, button down shirts, pullovers, – put her in bonnets, sundresses, and sandals. If she likes to wear skirts and dresses, put her in jeans, boots, and button down shirts. If she dresses professionally, dress her casually, if she dresses casually, dress her professionally. Basically make it harder to quickly identifier on the street, in a restaurant or store, or in a crowd. The same suggestions apply to men using appropriate male attire.
- Get a dog and put it in her house as an early warning system. And make sure it isn’t unattended outside as pros, or knuckleheads who think they are, will try to bait and either sedate or bait and kill the dog to get it out of the way.
- If she doesn’t have it already, order a decent home surveillance camera system and have it installed. Something that uploads to the cloud and streams to her phone and her attorneys’ phones.
- If they’ve got a good target on her car, get her a different car with different tags.
- If possible, just get her out of town to some place safe where she can be protected. Or relocate her in town. Some place with limited access and clear sight lines with people she can trust. Don’t just stash her at a hotel or B&B.
- If you all are this worried about her security, don’t try to DIY this. Have it all done properly and professionally. Have the attorneys document everything they felt had to be done, have her and the attorneys and whichever professionals are hired document anything that might be suspicious or a concern, no matter how slight or coincidental or seemingly explainable.
- If she has a firearm: a) ascertain if she actually believes she can use it if she has to, b) ascertain if she’s got the training to do so under stress, c) and then it has to be on her person at all times. Home carry, bathroom carry, shower carry (make sure to protect against rust), on the nightstand when she sleeps, carry outside the home to work, the store, church, etc. Anywhere she can legally have it and carry it would need to be carried. And it has to be on body carry. No purse carry. No trunk or glove box carry. On the body where it can be unlimbered and brought to bear on target quickly and effectively. If she doesn’t really believe she could use it and/or is uncomfortable carrying it everywhere then it either needs to go into a proper safe and stay there for the duration or given to a friend who’s not involved in any of this mess for safekeeping. Otherwise it’ll be taken from her and used against her. Same thing if she’s got a “front closet” shotgun or rifle. It’s either always within arm’s reach when at home or it’s secured in a safe. She can’t be in the bedroom sleeping and the shotgun is in the front hallway closet where she can’t get to it.
- If you’re going to hire professionals, defer to their judgement on whether your friend should be armed.
Updated at 11:46 PM EDT
14. Turn off the geolocation on your devices and social media so you can’t be tracked through using your various social media accounts or through your fitness monitoring device.
15. There are two options for what to do about online/social media. Either shut and lock everything down and go completely dark, or lock everything down as much as possible security wise, but continue to use it to give the impression that nothing out of the ordinary is going on.
Also, Anne Laurie sent this along from the ACLU:
If the #MeToo movement had caught on in 1997, the many people coming forward would still have had to worry about getting sued, in addition to the myriad other consequences of challenging their harassers. But because it caught on in 2017, they also have to worry about getting hacked and being subject to mass online attacks, trolling, and other forms of harassment that can unfortunately be the cost of speaking out.
I’m a technologist with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology team, but outside of my day job, I’ve been working for the better part of a decade with people — mostly, but not all, women — who have been targeted online. I’ve also been a sexual-misconduct whistleblower myself, so I know the personal cost of speaking out. People often feel powerless in the face of unknown threats from the internet, but there’s a lot that whistleblowers can do to stay safe while coming forward.
The digital defense tips below are for individuals. They address threats against specific people, not the systemic problem of harassment. There’s an important conversation happening about how institutions — from universities to software platforms to law enforcement — handle online threats. In the meantime, though, these are some concrete things that individuals can do to feel a little safer about speaking out and confronting power.
Much more at the link!
I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH that you want professionals involved if you are seriously concerned for her safety and well being!!!!! And I can’t stress enough that these discussions should be had with her attorneys and between them and local law enforcement and then whichever professionals are hired.
In the case of Dr. Blasey’s, there are a couple of other items to be considered. The first is that because a lot of the threats that have been made have been made online, and because her email has been hacked and she’s been impersonated online and in social media, her attorney needs to get the local FBI Field Office and the state police/state bureau of investigation involved. The former will also, partially, get around the White House’s refusal to ask the FBI to do a supplementary background check regarding her allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. The second, as I stated in item #11 in the list of suggestions above, is that Dr. Ford, her family, and her attorney should not try to establish their security as a DIY project. Given the political moment we’re living in, this is not the time to wing it. Unfortunately one of the prices of Dr. Blasey’s courage in coming forward is that her life as she and her family know it is now over.
* There was a robust discussion in the comments last night as to whether it is Dr. Blasey, Dr. Ford, or Dr. Blasey Ford. My understanding from the reporting is that she uses Blasey as her professional surname and Ford, which is her married name, as her personal surname. I’m using Dr. Blasey because unless/until it is otherwise reported, this is how she wishes to be professionally known.