Police are often caught in the unenviable position of being the strong arm executing some dumbass politician’s or bureaucrat’s brilliant idea. That’s what seems to be happening in West Maui following the fire. Police have a checkpoint up and are restricting entry to residents. Make sense, but it all appears to be poorly executed after a MASSIVE public safety and public relations failure. Incompetence compounding upon incompetence.
I don’t actually know what the real deal is on Maui, but looters, safety hazards, and crime scene preservation is a real thing. However, let’s assume that the cordon is excessive. So for the SHTF minded folks out there, what can you do in such a situation? We’re gonna go from practical, to civic minded, to um, kinetic.
First, have enough gas. In a crisis, you should be filling up daily. My advice on filling up daily under normal circumstances varies from others, but if things are sketchy, you should always have plenty of gas. On an island, you don’t necessarily need a full tank but in the aftermath of a disaster a quarter tank isn’t going to cut it.
Having stored gas at home is a brilliant idea. Rotate this out monthly or whatever by using it in your gas tank. Use high-quality, metal gas cans of NATO spec (Wavian is the brand), add Stabil or another long-term storage gas treatment, and label the can. For labels, use a piece of metal, like from a soda can, with the date lightly scratched/engraved/stamped in. You can do this with a pair of dikes and a flathead screwdriver. Some go ever further and use sealant on the bottoms and seams of the can to further protect against corrosion. (Thanks to Commander Zero for this method).
Okay, gas problem solved. That leaves access. Roads make great controlled access points especially if the cops/National Guard are smart and establish their checkpoints well. Your job should be to know alternative routes around, such as through neighborhoods, undeveloped areas, and even on dirt roads or off-road. Now if you’re skirting a roadblock, make sure you have some plausible deniability if you’re going around it. Try not to be seen and so draw attention to yourself.
“But I am stupid and only know one way to get home.” Chances are, if this is you, you aren’t reading this. Spend some time on Google Earth/Maps and check out some topographical maps of your area. Do an area study. Physically drive and walk around you area to explore it and find alternative routes.
Consider getting utility magnets to slap on your vehicle. Wear a helmet and reflective vest; they are stupid cheap preps and “gray man” camouflage to have around. Maybe the cops won’t even look that hard at you and ask to check ID. On the downside, they might suspect you of being a looter in disguise. Maybe be a police volunteer too so you’ll have friends on the force or they’ll just let you through as if you’re a relief worker.
Walking and biking (for shortage distances and loads) is another great idea. Bikes are nearly silent and can go pretty much anywhere a person can walk. Cycling and walking is very low profile and allows you to sneak through many places that probably aren’t being monitored.
Engage in human engineering. If the cops are being too restrictive, probably at the behest of someone higher up the food chain, start talking to your local politicians. Mayor, city councilmen, county commissioners/supervisors, and even your congressman. You don’t need to be annoying, just let them know what the problem is and ask them (preferably with dozens of neighbors doing the same thing) to remediate the situation. If the local politicians are being asses because they’re covering up the space lasers or the dragon, make noise with the media. Be polite, but be a squeaky wheel.
Be sure to film all interactions with police. Don’t shove the camera around like an a-hole or try and hide what you’re doing like a coward. Be sure to capture faces, badge numbers, vehicle numbers, or nameplates. Record the particulars of the roadblock, such as the cone pattern, signage, and vehicle positioning. If the cops are being jerks on their own initiative, this will help your case.
Don’t harass the cops. Don’t enter areas that are closed for a good reason. Go to your property or about your business and don’t become a problem. Why? It hurts your case, can cause real safety/evidentiary problems, and gives the authorities an excuse to crack down on entry.
On the more exotic front, say if you lived in a totalitarian situation where force would be applicable, let’s note some things. First, we see police, not the National Guard. Soft-skinned police vehicles and no physical barricades. Cops are out, on foot, in soft armor in small numbers without long arms. The checkpoints are probably very few in number. You do the math.
Author Don Shift
Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and avid fan of post-apocalyptic literature and film who has pushed a black and white for a mile or two. He is a student of disasters, history, and current events.