Police tips reduce risk of becoming target

Staying alert and taking precautions to avoid becoming a target can go a long way in fighting crime, according to Minot crime prevention officer Sgt. Margie Zietz.

A 29-year veteran of the Minot Police Department, Zietz speaks to community groups on self-protection awareness, sharing tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.

“The hardest job is to get that fear out of people that we aren’t safe anymore,” Zietz told members of the Minot YWCA recently.

She said growth in Minot can lead to an increase in overall criminal incidents, although per capita crime rates might not change. An area where the increase has been significant is in violent crime, she said. Typically, Minot would see fewer than 20 aggravated assault arrests a year. Last year there were nearly 90 arrests.

But people can take simple steps to protect themselves, Zietz said.

Displaying confidence, becoming aware of surroundings and looking people in the face can discourage a potential perpetrator. The ability to identify a person decreases your appeal as a target, she said.

If attacked, car keys can be used as a weapon to scratch an assailant on an arm or face. A flashlight is useful because light discourages an assailant and makes you visible to witnesses, Zietz added. A flashlight also can be shone into an attacker’s eyes as a disturbance allowing for escape.

Self-defense tools, such as pepper spray or stun guns, are useful only if the owner is practiced in using them and has them at hand when needed, Zietz said. The drawback is that they can be used against the owner if they fall into the wrong hands, she said. Stun guns also require a concealed weapons permit.

People should not carry a gun if they do not feel capable of taking another person’s life, Zietz said. Just the display of a defensive weapon could cause an armed assailant to use an offensive weapon that he or she might not have intended to use.

Zietz prefers that people consider simple lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of crime.

More information about self protection or home security is available by contacting the Crime Prevention Unit at 857-4711.