We can no longer blithely depend upon the military and law enforcement to spot threats to our loved ones.
We must become increasingly vigilant in our daily lives so that we can better protect our families, friends and neighbors.
With so many threats — including active shooters, domestic terrorism and escalating street crime in America and abroad — all of us must adapt to this dangerous new world by becoming more aware of potential threats all around us.
There are several key factors that will help you identify and evaluate potential threats. Reviewing these basic factors will let you analyze most situations promptly so that you can react swiftly.
Study the tips below so you can learn how to assess how dangerous a person or place may be.
Begin by evaluating any suspicious individuals’ behavior. This is not always an easy task because someone can mask his or her intentions. But if you look carefully, you can see subtle signs in people or groups that betray their potential for dangerous behavior or violence.
Look at general appearance. Make mental notes about whether this individual or group fits any potentially hostile group with which you are familiar in any way. How are they dressed? Note clothing, hair and footwear as well as any visible markings such as birthmarks, scars and tattoos.
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Look at physical stature and body language. Trust your instincts, they’ve kept our species alive for thousands of years.
Overall, do they seem cool, calm and collected, or volatile and rash? Do they seem open and authentic or furtive and shifty as if they have something to hide?
If they stand upright, do you sense healthy confidence or potentially hostile arrogance? If they slouch, do you sense timidity or sullen resentment?
Does their posture or stance lead you to believe that they may be aggressive? Are they making themselves look larger by standing erect or placing their hands on their hips?
Do they hold their heads aggressively? Look out if they tilt their heads back and defiantly thrust out their jaws, fearlessly showing their throats. And look out for people who tilt their heads down, guarding their throats as if preparing for combat.
Look for physical signs of nervousness such as twitching, repetitive patterns in their speech or in the movements of their hands, fingers, feet or eyes. Try to determine if they are nervous because they’re uncomfortable or because they’re ready to do a dirty deed.
|Make mental notes of the individuals and groups around you.|
Look at their eyes and what they are focused on or not focused on. Do they seem to be trying to hide or mask their stares? Are they staring at you like potential prey?
When assessing these characteristics and qualities, begin to identify physical and/or psychological weaknesses. Listen to identify language, tone of the voice (angry, calm, violent, commanding), content of the language if recognizable, or sudden eruptions in speech patterns.
Try to sum up your suspects’ behavior to determine their INTENT.
Intent indicates how much danger you are in.
Scan for weapons. Once you’ve determined that you’re in a dangerous situation, you must prepare to defend yourself against weapons.
First look at the hands for immediate threats. Try to determine whether the suspect is right-handed or left-handed. This will help you predict where a strike or a cut would come from.
Look for traditional weapons such as guns, knives and other edged weapons. But be aware that almost anything can be used as a weapon, including pens, heavy books, rolled up magazines, flashlights, belts, tools, electrical cords as well as rocks, bricks, and bottles.
If they have a weapon, take note of how they are holding it. This is critical so you can assess how they might use the weapon and how you might defend against it — even if it means simply running away.
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Look out for abandoned or unattended items. Beware of backpacks, briefcases, fanny packs, purses, handbags, and shopping bags. They may have been left behind on purpose. Scan for anything that overtly resembles a bomb or incendiary device.
Look for things that seem to be out of place. For example, someone spraying something in the air, even if it seems as innocuous as perfume. Or someone dropping something seemingly on purpose — even eggs, which have been used to deliver biological weapons. Or someone putting on a hood, mask or gas mask in a public place. Or anyone holding a glass vial or test tube. Or anything else that may seem out of place or unusual.
In the traditional sense, always remember the most dangerous weapon in the world is the one you do not see!
Look for the Force. The potential threat may be a single individual or a group. In either case, security professionals call this the Force. You need to figure out quickly whether the Force is working alone or not.
Scan the surroundings. Beware of criminal cohorts who have concealed themselves or who have not yet identified themselves. In scenarios involving street crimes, a carjacker may have a backup crew nearby.
When facing street criminals, always look to see how your adversaries are standing or gathered. Do they give off any impression that they have done this sort of thing before? Do they seem as if they have planned or rehearsed this attack?
Next, assess the distance between yourself and the threat. Distance here being a function of your ability to react to the threat. The amount of time you need react to the situation is termed the “Critical Response Interval.” And your Critical Response Interval will be affected by your physical condition as well as stress and other physiological changes that occur under duress.
Be aware of the environment. Sometimes you may find that your surroundings can help in your defense, or even offense. Quickly assess the surroundings for anything that could help you gain some tactical advantage or a covered position. For close-quarters combat, grab weapons of chance, such as sticks, garbage-can covers and kitchen utensils. And you must always scan for an escape route or back door.
Lastly, you should evaluate all of these elements, variables and conditions against yourself. That is, you should gauge your training, experience, weapons, mental, emotional and physical state as well as any limitations that can affect the potential outcome of the situation.
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!