Ask the Chief: Move to safety, stay alert when being followed

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"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Q: What should I do if I feel like I am being followed?

A: If you are asking this question that indicates that you are alert of your surroundings, which is your best defense against an attack. Don't ignore your gut instincts (gut instinct is your body telling you that something in your day to day routine, what you consider normal, is not the same as you are use to, and this subconscious awareness could be a threat).

If you are on foot or in your car, remain calm and go where people are (gas station, coffee shop, shopping mall, busy restaurant). Crowds, security cameras and lights can assist with deterring a stalker. Don't start speeding or making quick turns.

If the person continues to follow you, stay in a populated safe place and call a friend or family member.

If safe to do, so take a picture of the person, car and license plate, this information will be helpful if you need to file a complaint.

Remain on the phone with your friend or family member until you feel safe.

If you continue to feel unsafe, call the police.

Safety walking and running tips

1. Stay aware of your surroundings. Walk confidently and with purpose.

2. When walking/running, stay in the middle of the sidewalk/path and walk/run facing oncoming traffic.

3. Try not to have your arms full of books or other items. Keep your hands as free as possible.

4. Do not wear music headphones while walking or jogging.

5. Do not read while walking.

6. If you carry a purse or bag, carry it close to your body, preferably in front.

7. Avoid walking alone after dark.

8. Keep your cellphone charged.

9. Alter your routes to work and home.

Safety vehicle tips

1. Keep your vehicle in good working order and the gas tank at least half full.

2. Always park in visible, well-lighted areas.

3. Have your keys ready when approaching your vehicle to reduce the time needed to enter.

4. Do not pick up hitchhikers.

5. If you are being followed, don't drive home. Go to the nearest police or fire station and honk your horn to draw attention. Call the police from your cellular phone and provide them with the description of the person or vehicle following you, the license plate number, and location.

6. Alter your routes to work and home.

7. Keep your cellphone charged.

Additional resources

Personal safety for children: https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/safety/index.html

MN Statues: 609.749 https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.749

Minnesota attorney general: https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Publications/StalkingVictimsGuide.asp