Being aware takes over when police are not there

Even though he retired as Baton Rouge police chief in 2010, Jeff LeDuff continues to fight crime. More precisely, he helps citizens fight it.

LeDuff and his son, Kelly, operate Open Eyes Self Defense Tutoring, offering advice on how to avoid being a crime victim, whether at home or out in public. His philosophy on the subject hasn’t changed that much.

“The whole time I was chief, I said to Baton Rouge, ‘Law enforcement is the big picture. Law enforcement is not responsible for my personal safety,’” LeDuff said.

LeDuff said the keys are alertness and taking steps to make your property less of a target and yourself less of a victim. Here’s his advice:

Around your home

If you have an alarm, use it religiously, even when you are at home. Burglars generally want to avoid encounters with homeowners. If you don’t have an alarm, put something by windows or doors that will fall and make noise if someone enters, which will frighten the intruder and wake you up.

Have a plan for how are you going to get out of the house and where are you going to go if someone breaks in.

When leaving home at night, turn on just enough lights to make it look like someone might be at home. Smart criminals know that too many lights on probably means the house is empty but left to look occupied.

Outside lighting should include motion sensors and lights that are bright enough and positioned so they will awaken you.

At night, adjust window blinds so that someone outside can only see up at the ceiling, but those inside can look toward the ground. This is especially important at Christmas — you don’t want people to see what’s under the tree.

If you hear a noise outside the house, press your car’s remote control panic button, which will turn on its lights and sound the alarm. That lets the prowler know you’re aware of something.

If you don’t have a safe, don’t put valuables in the closet, underwear drawer or freezer. Criminals will look there.

Under the sofa is actually a good idea. Burglars can’t take the sofa, so they’re unlikely to move it.

Little in the living room besides the TV interests burglars.

Don’t keep valuables in your car.

On the town

Be alert. If you’re walking, keep your head up and look at the people around you, and be obvious about it. Criminals don’t like being noticed. Walking through parking lots, look in, around and below cars you pass. If you’re going to your car, have the key in your hand.

Don’t walk and talk on your cell phone. Your are mentally distracted, and holding your phone next to your face blinds you to that side. If you must talk, turn on the speaker and hold the phone so you can see around you.

Don’t put your purse strap diagonally across your body. An assailant who grabs your purse now has you, too. Don’t have anything in the purse worth your life.

If grabbed, kick the assailant where the top of the foot meets the shin. There’s a nerve there that will cause a lot of pain. Then run.

Pay attention to physical characteristics. Estimate height against fixed objects. Noticed things that can’t be changed, such as receding hairlines, body build.

Don’t get a gun if you can’t take a human life. Remember: You’re liable for what happens when the bullet leaves the gun.

If you get a chemical deterrent, make sure it’s a combination of chemicals. Don’t just get pepper spray without OC or CS gas, because pepper spray just irritates the skin. LeDuff recommends Freeze+P.

To contact Leduff, email