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ASK A COP: Should You Fight Back in a Crime?

Santa Cruz Police gave this advice in response to the family who fought and captured a robber Wednesday.

After a husband and wife fought with two men who had broken into their home, Santa Cruz Police put out suggestions on when to fight back.

Question: Should I fight back during a crime?

Santa Cruz Police: The decision to fight back or not is a deeply personal one that can only be made by the person experiencing the attack.  There is not one universal answer for all people in all situations.  Each person has a different comfort level with their own capabilities to resist or survive an attack.  Each set of circumstances is different and poses unique challenges. We do recommend prioritizing your decision in this way:

  1. Survive the attack.  Above all, do what you have to do to survive, and minimize harm to yourself
  2. Escape harm.  Get yourself out of harms-way as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
  3. Observe.  Finally, be a good witness.  Give the police the information they need to identify a suspect and put together a good case for prosecution. 

 When considering whether to “fight back” consider these points:

  • What are the risks and potential harm of fighting versus the risk and harm of cooperating?  
  • What are your capabilities and comfort with your fighting skills?  What are you prepared to do?
  • What are the suspect’s capabilities?  Are you overpowered or outnumbered? Are they armed or could they disarm you? 

These are decisions that only the person involved in the attack, in the moment can make.  While we wish no one had to experience an attack, the fact is, there are people out there intent on doing harm in our community.  We encourage you to think about these points and consider what you would do if you found yourself in this situation. 

David H. Perez February 27, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Unfortunately, nowadays the bad guys often harm or kill you even if you fully cooperate with them. I would make every effort fight back unless I was overwhelmingly outgunned and in a no-win situation.

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