Sgt. Phil Penny of the Stettler RCMP Detachment. (File Photo)

Think before you take law into your own hands: Stettler RCMP

How would you explain your actions to a judge asks Sgt Penny

With the increase in rural crime people may be tempted to take the law into their own hands but Stettler RCMP Sgt. Phil Penny cautions people to think about what they may do in a situation.

Sgt. Penny spoke to a group of Stettler Rotary members during a luncheon April 9. He said people ask if they are allowed legally to shoot someone who breaks into their home.

“I’m a judge, explain to me why you did what you did. Tell me what the person was doing.

“How people perceive danger is subjective,” added Sgt. Penny. “As a police officer I would perceive things different than you would experience.”

He said there are several factors that need to be considered such as: Are you alone? Are they alone? Is the person bigger than me? Is the person smaller than me? Is there a gender difference? Do they have a firearm? Are they coming towards me? Is it day or night? The most important factor, however, is if you’re able to articulate to a judge why you did what you did.

In addition, Sgt. Penny said if you fire a warning shot you are responsible for what happens with that bullet, where it goes.

To help reduce property theft, Sgt. Penny said people need to take more preventative measures such as taking their keys and locking their vehicles. People need to lock their homes and garages.

“It’s up to the individual,” he said, adding that people in rural communities are used to not locking things up but they need to change their thinking.

“The reason why criminals are coming to rural communities is because they are finding success.”

Sgt. Penny said there’s a reason criminals break into homes in summer villages like Rochon and White Sands.

“Most of the houses are empty all winter long. How many people have any kind of security system is likely next to none.”

Sgt. Penny said break and enters into residences often happen when people are at work and said it doesn’t take long for a criminal to commit a crime.

“You have to take steps to prevent (crime). The positive thing is people are paying attention.”

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