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Vehicle Ramming – Indicators

 

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Today’s Tip deals with terrorists’ use of vehicles as weapons. Vehicle ramming attacks are a present threat. The attacks are typically carried out by those inspired by an extremist ideology. Victims are usually those in the wrong place at the wrong time. In other words, they are just victims of opportunity. 

Vehicle attacks have few indicators and usually occur without warning. Identifying potential attacks relies on good intelligence.

In September 2017, a suspect with a rental truck attacked pedestrians on a bicycle path in New York. He killed eight people and injured 11. 

The perpetrator does not need to be proficient with firearms or explosives. He or she simply needs to know how to drive. They seek out crowded locations with minimal physical barriers. The idea is to inflict the greatest number of casualties with the least amount of effort. 

Vehicle attacks have few indicators and usually occur without warning. Identifying potential attacks relies on good intelligence. Thefts of heavy trucks and large vehicles should be flagged for intelligence purposes.  

You should familiarize yourself with local rental businesses. Encourage them to report suspicious transactions. Arm these sources with information. Have them watch for a renter who does not produce a valid operator’s license. Maybe they can keep an eye out for renters who insist on paying with cash. A renter who displays a lack of experience or skill operating the rented vehicle might be an indication that something could be wrong. These are all useful things to ask rental vehicle companies to look for. 

Officers in the field should be attentive to large commercial vehicles that remain stationary for long periods of time. Use of binoculars, audio/video recorders, or other cameras by a driver may be worth a second look by law enforcement. 

Any of these indicators alone may be insignificant. When they occur with other suspicious behaviors, it’s time to investigate. Be vigilant while on patrol. Maintain dialog with local rental companies. Work with community leaders to address areas with increased vulnerabilities. Awareness is the critical first line of defense against these attacks, and you may be the one to make a difference. 

That’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off. 

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