If you’ve been following all the excitement surrounding the solar eclipse, you know that hotels are completely booked, solar eclipse glasses from every conceivable legitimate source are pretty well sold out (watch out for scams!), and authorities are preparing for the general insanity of having Americans and some international travelers descend on their cities in numbers that make the busiest tourist season of popular vacation destinations look tame.
Emergency responders have requested that travelers to their cities limit their use of cell phones and planned to use alternative forms of communication because cell phone towers are likely to be overwhelmed. Some phone service providers such as Verizon are putting extra infrastructure into place to help take some of the load off, but don’t count on being able to do much more than take pictures with your phone (carefully – the sun can burn out a camera for the same reasons that it can burn out your eyes).
Emergency responders may also be overwhelmed and/or stuck in traffic due to the expected upswing in traffic accidents and bumper-to-bumper traffic on highways and major roads. What authorities haven’t said, though, is that the crowds that are expected for the eclipse may come with an increase in crime ranging from picking pockets to possible assault. Those who intend to watch the eclipse could help reduce the load on emergency responders by taking common sense precautions like leaving valuables that they don’t need in a secure location and carrying pepper spray.
Authorities have especially recommended making preparations in case things don’t go as planned. This advice ranges from taking a cooler loaded with drinks and snacks along to making sure that children are properly supervised.
Do Authorities Expect a Mass Shooting or Terrorist Attack?
The short answer would be, “Not publicly,” but local emergency responders and law enforcement agencies apparently prefer to make sure that their bases are covered without causing a general panic. Keep in mind that the American Red Cross expects the population of some cities along the path of totality to double or triple as visitors start arriving during the few days before the eclipse. This may make a tempting target for a nutcase who wants to gain national notoriety by committing mass murder.
The recommendations did include having a “backup” form of communication in case eclipse viewers absolutely need to get hold of family members – as they might in an emergency in which cell phone companies’ infrastructure may be overwhelmed as it is – and it would be very surprising if popular eclipse viewing sites don’t have at least a “low-key” police presence.
In the absence of any official statement by any state or local government along the path of totality that confirms or denies that authorities expect terrorism, the best that can be said is that viewers should enjoy the event but also be alert for any suspicious activity. Because emergency responders may be pressed hard to respond quickly to any given emergency, stopping any criminal activity may rely on teamwork by people who are already on the scene. Despite what liberals want you to think, active shooters can be shut down by the proverbial “good guy with a gun.” While it might be preferable for a “token” police force to be on the scene and close enough to respond to the situation before anybody gets killed, keeping the incident from making national news may depend on the alertness of eclipse viewers on the scene and their willingness to get the shooter shut down so that they can sit on him until police actually arrive.
If You See Something
This, of course, does not mean that you should go looking for trouble or that law enforcement even expects a terrorist attack or mass shooting. Just stay alert and make sure that you can prove that it was self-defense if something happens that turns into a fight. Especially be aware that the combination of increased opportunities of crime, an emergency responder force that may be overwhelmed, and cell phone towers that may already be struggling to keep up with demand means that it could well be on you to reduce your risk of becoming a crime victim. So make sure you take common sense precautions so that you and everybody else in your preferred viewing spot can enjoy the solar eclipse.
— SCEMD (@SCEMD) August 9, 2017