BRENTWOOD, MO - From garages and parking lots to simply walking on the sidewalk the Brentwood Police Department wants to help residents be in charge of their personal safety.
During a citizen’s safety seminar held for the second time this year at the Brentwood Recreation Complex, officers shared what people can do in case they are faced with a dangerous situation involving a physical threat.
The moves come after there were three incidents earlier this summer in Brentwood involving drivers and a pedestrian who were robbed or assaulted in either parking garages or just walking along the sidewalk.
Police said that charges were filed against the suspected attackers in two of the three cases.
Police Chief Joseph Spiess said that just because someone happens to live an area that may not be known for having a high rate of crime that it doesn’t mean he or she is always safe. That’s why part of the seminar was a demonstration of a mock parking lot robbery to show residents what could happen if you aren’t paying attention.
In the scenario, a masked man sees a woman who’s looking down at her phone and is walking toward the back of her car. That’s when the thief snatched her purse and took off running.
Spiess said there are a lot of carjackings happening all over St. Louis and it’s a real concern.
He said that in most cases the suspects are all armed and confront unsuspecting people.
“I’ve been doing this job for a long time and these are as violent and scary people I have seen,” Spiess said. “It’s almost become a game that they go out and break into cars looking for purses and guns that people are leaving in their cars and then they escalate from there when someone comes across their path.”
The seminars are meant to provide guidance on awareness and how to respond to physical threats.
That includes looking at your surroundings, having a plan, taking notice of anything that even remotely seems suspicious and if possible walk with someone.
“The education piece I think is important and that people understand that this is an area-wide problem that really needs more attention quite honestly,” Spiess continued, “and the second piece is the nature of how we live today whether you’re in a mall or a movie theater.”
And that’s guidance some residents said that they appreciate and are grateful for.
“You have to be aware of what’s going on around you,” said Pam Edson. “You can’t be in a hurry, you have to take precautions you have to plan ahead. Use common sense and look around be aware of where you’re going, where you’re coming from, look ahead if you’re getting out of a car take a peak.”
Spiess said that the free to the public safety seminars are becoming popular with residents so they will be having more of them in the coming months.