Former detective shares thoughts on crime, personal safety

Monday, January 16, 2017 - 10:26
'Always have a plan'
  • Former APD detective Glen Klinkhart motions to the audience while giving a presentation on personal safety to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 at the ER Ale House in Eagle River. Klinkhart is an author whose true crime book “Finding Bethany” is based on his investigation into the Bethany Correira homicide in 2003.

Glen Klinkart wants people to know Anchorage is still a pretty safe place to live.

“How many of you are afraid for your safety,” Klinkhart asked members of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce during a speech Jan. 4 at the ER Ale House. “I’m not.”

A recent spike in murders in Anchorage (there were 34 in 2016) has people on edge, but Klinkhart said those statistics don’t reflect the reality of crime in the state’s largest city. He pointed to a graph showing that Anchorage’s murder rate – when adjusted for population growth – has been relatively flat over the past decade.

“One (murder) is a bad thing. However, as long as you look at the statistics, you’re going to be safe,” he said.

However, that’s not to say bad things happen, said Klinkhart, a former homicide detective who now works as an investigator, author and public speaker. Klinkhart said he got into law enforcement in large part because of a tragedy in his life, the murder of his sister in the 1980s.

“It’s why I got into this line of work,” he said.

The best way people can avoid becoming a victim of violence, Klinkhart said, is to be vigilant at all times. Avoiding conflict, he said, is much easier than dealing with a dangerous situation that’s already unfolding.

“You win every fight you’re not in,” he said.

Common sense actions – like listening to intuition – can go a long way to prevent violence, he told the chamber.

“It is possible to predict how people are going to act around you,” he said.

It’s also important, he said, for people to constantly plan what to do if confronted with a “fight, flight or freeze” situation.

“You’re going to fall into one of those, and generally it’s freeze,” he said.

Looking for potential threats before they occur and continually monitoring surroundings for danger is a great way to avoid becoming a victim, he said.

“Get your head out of your phone and start paying attention when you enter a room,” he said.

Klinkhart – author of the crime memoir “Finding Bethany” about his investigation into the 2003 murder of Bethany Correira – also shared a couple common-sense tips for avoiding danger, such as downloading phone apps designed to act like a “dead man’s switch” in case of a dangerous encounter. Other applications – such as findmyiphone, burnerapp (which allows phone calls to be routed through alternate numbers), and the Hiya caller ID app – can also help people stay safe.

One tip he shared for parents of young children is one he used with his own son.

“Teach them this very simple trick,” he said. “Teach them to find a mom with kids.”

He explained that mothers with children are extremely unlikely to be child abductors and are the most likely to help a child who has become separated from his or her own parents.

Klinkhart also cautioned people about posting their location to social media. Instead of “checking in” at a fancy restaurant or vacation destination, he said people should wait until they’ve left the location.

“Post all of those wonderful photos later,” he said.

The bottom line, he said, is people need to be always vigilant and thinking about safety.

Although he doesn’t think Anchorage is getting more dangerous, Klinkhart does believe personal safety should be a priority.

“Always have a plan,” he said.

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