•                                     MASKS



    Let's talk about masks for a second. There are 3 types basically. The domino mask as worn by the Lone Ranger, Zorro, the Spirit, Robin the boy wonder, etc, the cowl as worn by Batman, Daredevil, the Flash, Captain America, etc. and the full face mask as worn by Spider-Man, Iron Man, Rorschach, Deadpool, Deathstoke, etc.


    Truthfully only the full face mask is a complete disguise. Especially when even the eye

    holes are covered with some material ala Spider-Man. I used white plastic mesh myself. This allows you to have large eye holes that will not block your peripheral vision and yet not expose your eyes, which alone can be enough to identify you.


    The domino mask is the worst disguise of all as everyone can still see your forehead, mouth, nose, etc. It was best presented in the movie “Green Lantern” when his girl friend Carol Farris recognized him as Hal Jordan and stated, “Did you think I wouldn't recognize you because I couldn't see your cheekbones?” Exactly.


    The cowl type mask is nearly as bad. Once again all can see your mouth and chin and sometimes even nose as in Captain America or the Flash's versions and the eyes are still visible. Try Googling Batman movie images and you'll immediately see photos of all the actors who have played him. Micheal Keaton and Val Kilmer wore identical cowls. Have any trouble at all recognizing who is who? No. it's easy isn't it. Try putting on one this Halloween and walk up to a family member. They will immediately know who you are, so this type of mask is also an ineffective disguise.


    There is a 4th type, the “cowboy kerchief” such as is worn by our friend Geist. But along with his goggles and hat, it counts as a full face mask. But if worn alone without the hat or glasses then it only covers the face from the nose down and is just as bad of a disguise as the cowl which only covers the upper half of your face. Half a face is still pretty easy to recognize.


    To wear a mask or not to wear one that is the question.



    Masks vs No-Mask; Even in comic books the subject is divided. Is it better to conceal your identity like Spider-Man or have a public identity like the Fantastic Four?


    There are pros and cons to both.


    Wearing a mask allows you to have a civilian life without the “stigma” of being a rlsh and believe me that is what it can be? Our good friend Master Legend keeps his face and identity a secret. Unfortunately for him he was called to Hollywood as an adviser on the film they made about him titled “The Legend of Master Legend”. In order to get time off from work he decided he had to tell his boss who he was. He was fired.


    Phoenix Jones kept his identity a secret until he got arrested and decided to unmask publicly as his name was now part of the public record. He too lost his job.


    Getting fired might only be part of your troubles. It depends on just what you do as a rlsh? If you focus on fighting crime and report all crime, like drug dealing or prostitution to the police to the point where you are responsible for many arrests, you may need to conceal your identity, because the only things street gangs hate worse than the police are police informers.


    MS 13 the most feared gang in the world and reputedly boils informers alive in oil if they catch them. Since the police do the actual arresting this is not usually a problem, but if you are at the scene and are directly responsible for the criminals getting arrested, remember that they are entitled to one phone call and while unlikely they would waste it on getting revenge, you never can be too sure.


    Now the argument often is, that Police officers, lawyers and Judges arrest and convict the worst of criminals and their identities are well known, but they have one advantage a rlsh does not have. Authority. They have a badge and the full support of the justice system and you do not. All criminals know that there will Hell to pay for the death of a Police officer, prosecutor or Judge so naturally they have to really want them dead to take such a risk, but even so, it does happen.


    You as a rlsh have no such protection and gang members know this. The only reason there have not been any deaths in the rlsh community (save for one and I will address this tomorrow in my tutoral “Getting killed or arrested&rdquo is because most people still do not know we really exist, except for reporters and the police and they for the most part consider us a joke. This does not mean there will not be deaths in the future and is a factor you need to consider before you decide to do this.


    So a lot of whether to wear a mask or not depends a lot on what your mission is? Some rlsh's are homeless advocates strictly , others strictly crime fighting and some like myself do both. This is why I chose to remain as anonymous as possible and in the 28 years since I began doing this I have never had any problem with the police nor with any criminals.


    Other than worrying about your reputation, losing your job, getting evicted from your home, etc. there are also family members to consider. My main purpose for staying anonymous is to keep my wife safe who had no idea I was doing this.


    If you choose a public identity make sure you tell your family first because your decision may also effect them.


    One other thing, if you are out on patrol and encounter a police officer who insists you unmask and reveal to him your identity, you have no choice but to comply. Failure to cooperate is grounds for being arrested and for God's sake don't try running away from a police officer, that can get your shot.


    To the Police you are a suspicious character and he has every right to investigate. Indeed most of the public will also consider you a suspicious character and can and often do call the police and ask them to check you out.


    This is how the Beast got arrested. He was just in a home depot parking lot offering to help people, but it was the day after that crazy guy shot up that movie theater and called himself the Joker, so needless to say people are naturally going to be afraid of anyone wearing a mask and why wouldn't they?


    That alone is the best argument that the non mask wearing rlsh's have. Masks are inherently frightening and many rlsh's choose to imitate Batman by creating very frightening looking personas. I have not had this problem in my long career but my M.O. Is different than the modern rlsh. Today most rlsh's dress in full costume and patrol in groups allowing the costume itself to help deter crime, much the same as a cop on the beat. I have always worked alone and operate covertly like an undercover police officer, choosing disguise over a costume. I wear the mask rolled up like a hat and only don it when I need it, which has been blessedly rare, and then immediately discard it as soon as possible. This has prevented me from being noticed by the police or criminals alike. I mention it here to provide you with an alternative method of operation that you could choose to adopt.


    Protect and serve,