Thursday, October 6, 2022


RVer Safety: Do you have “police” in your blood? – Part 2

By Mike Sherman
Last Saturday we discussed the changing attitude in America concerning folks helping other folks and how it seems to now be the norm to look away. Getting involved might get you hurt! For our safety and security while camping, one might be exposed to an act of violence in a neighboring campsite – some brute beating on his woman or two men tumbling around on the ground, trying to do some damage to each other. You might be forced to make a decision (considering help could be more than an hour away). Do you look the other way? Do you engage? Every situation will present its own circumstances that might force you to get involved or just flee the area.

Let’s take a look at two situations that the media reported on since last Saturday’s article.

Alleged attackers.

#1 (Bad news): A New York City Firefighter sustained a concussion and several broken teeth Saturday after police say he was assaulted while trying to stop a group of teens from harassing an elderly couple. The 38-year-old off-duty firefighter, John Mongiello, was traveling on East 86th St. in Manhattan at around 9:25 a.m. Saturday when he noticed six teens “harassing” an elderly couple, a spokesperson with the New York City Police Department stated. The man reportedly tried to intervene – and police say that’s when one unidentified member of the group punched the firefighter “with a closed fist,” knocking him to the ground. The suspect then continued assaulting the man while he was down, officials said. The firefighter was taken to Columbia University Medical Center and treated for the head and mouth injuries. Police describe the suspects as three males and three females between the ages of 15 and 17. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday and police say anyone with information should call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477. Source: Fox News

John Mongiello.

This fireman tried to help the elderly couple because it is in his nature to help people – that is what firemen do. This incident was not in some remote area far from help. There are plenty of cops running around Manhattan. It is stories like these that cause folks to avoid the conflict for personal safety reasons. UPDATE: The fireman is now resting at home.

#2 (Good news): Authorities rescued a Texas 8-year-old Sunday after a vigilant duo saw the Fort Worth Police Department’s description of the car suspected in her kidnapping and went hunting for it, police said. Standing in front of the WoodSpring Suites in the suburb of Forest Hill, a beaming Buddy Calzada, spokesman for the Fort Worth police, told reporters that the pair, members of a local church, found the grey Ford Five Hundred in the hotel parking lot. “As you can see, there is a smile on my face. I’m here to report that Salem has been found safe,” he said. Police have charged Michael Webb, 51, with aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony. Webb is not related to the girl, Salem Sabatka, police said. Salem was taking a walk with her mother Saturday night in Fort Worth when a car approached and a man snatched her, police said. Her mother tried to jump into the vehicle to save her daughter, but the man shoved her and sped away, video from a home doorbell shows. Source: CNN

Salem Sabatka.

Talk about bold! The girl was walking with her mother, yet the suspect still wanted to make his move and was, for a time, successful. We all know these types of abductions seldom end on a positive note. Had it not been for the “vigilant duo,” the police would probably still be looking for the suspect. Two guys decided to get involved. Even though there was no imminent threat of physical harm to themselves, they went looking. They might have discovered the suspect with the girl in the car at a gas station – getting ready to drive away. What would you do? Try to stop him? Call the police and follow him, hoping the cops get there fast?

In my humble opinion, the 8-year-old was found due to citizens getting involved. The suspect might have slipped away and never been caught, and Salem never recovered.

As with any urgent situation, you are going to rely on your quick wit and sound judgment, with appropriate caution, to make a final decision on what action, if any, you might take. Whatever you do, we can only hope the outcome can be as joyous as the outcome for Salem.

As for the teens that beat the fireman, there is video, and it is only a matter of time before they are brought to justice.

Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.

Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at if you have questions, or leave a comment below. 



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marty chambers
3 years ago

I am also a retired LEO, 27 years for me. Unless a life is in jeopardy I am not in a hurry to get involved. I suggest people to:

Call police or have someone else call them. Make sure they call.
Try to document what happens. We all have cell phones these days, video everything.
Document who was involved and their descriptions, what are they wearing, stuff like that.

Identify yourself as a witness to the police and follow their instructions.

A factual witness is much more appreciated than a dead hero.

Be safe always.

Bob G.
3 years ago
Reply to  marty chambers

Really good, sound advice, Mary. Really good suggestions. Hey, I rarely see someone without their cellphone. That is about the best way to be positively involved with least negative results. Keep your wits about you, and maximize your effect and your safety. That dead hero just ends up being another victim.

3 years ago

I generally expect I would get involved if I believed my benefit is at least as great as my risk (save a life and get punched, or block a car with my 10Klb truck — but not save $20 and get shot, or standing in front of a car).

That said, it’s CRITICAL to remind would-be good samaritans to ask permission to help. Aiding a pinned down LEO, the offering shows you are on his side not another threat. Aiding a fistfight, it shows you’re a peacemaker not joining the brawl for “fun.” Weirdest case, the situation may not be what you think and there is no need for help. Many states see a legal difference in voluntarily entering harms way vs being asked for help.