Threat Level
Threat Level

Recognizing a Potential Threat Before it Manifests into an Attack Can Save Your Life

The best way to save yourself in an attack is to avoid it in the first place. Ever think it would be useful to be able to see a developing problem so you could avoid trouble altogether? People talk a lot about situational awareness but never add any specifics or color to their discussion. Generally, good situational awareness is being alert for anomalies; seeing and recognizing the visually unlikely circumstances that could indicate an attack is imminent.  

Take a look below and keep alert for these things. Any one of them alone is likely nothing to worry about, two of them should alarm you; three of them probably a solid indication you need to get away from the situation right now!

1.  Inexplicable presence. People adrift for no reason should interest you. Most people are walking with purpose, have keys in their hands, are carrying packages to and from somewhere. When none of that is going on and someone is just loafing? Ask yourself what they’re up to.

2.  Target glancing.  Do you ever get that feeling that someone is watching you?  But you really can’t pinpoint where.  You may not see someone looking directly at you in an obvious fashion, but extend your lens to see those that may be sneaking glances at you indirectly.  They could also be determining target value, looking for police or anyone who might intervene, surveillance cameras and where their escape route is.

3.  Sudden change in status. If someone is loafing on a bus stop bench and the ONLY thing that changes is your arrival and they suddenly change their status (were smoking, were sitting, were napping) when you get near them, consider if that’s coincidental or not. ESPECIALLY if number 1 & 2 applies.

4.  Correlation of movement.  You notice some things that alarm you and you cross the street.  So does the person causing you alarm. Or you walk past the person on the bus stop bench and they fall into step behind you. Or you move away from the person giving you the hairy eyeball in a bar and a minute later, there they are near you again. You’d be right to be concerned.

5.  Hidden hands causing unnatural movement(s). That guy who fell in step behind you? He’s walking with a hand held behind his leg. That’s not natural. That guy coming toward you who crossed the street to intersect your path? His right hand is in his left armpit. What’s up with that? What’s up with that is that criminals know the fastest draw in the world is no draw at all…the weapon is already in his hand.

6.  Inappropriate clothing. Criminals don’t spend any money on support equipment, after all, they are criminals. They keep their weapon in the groin or abdomen areas. Light shirts can “print” the gun if they’re too snug and make it difficult to conceal a weapon which might explain that sweatshirt he’s wearing on a 70 degree sunny day.

7.  Predatory movement/actions that seek an advantage/dominant position. For example, if two people walk up on you to ask you where something is and one steps to your side (flanking) that’s a predatory movement. If someone hovers behind you at your 4-8 o’clock position, ask yourself why they would do that. Be very sensitive to any positioning that makes you feel vulnerable.

8.  Unnatural impediments to free movement. Any time your freedom of movement is restricted you should be alarmed. No one has the right to do that to you. And if it’s done against your will it constitutes an assault. If you’re walking and someone impedes your movement, take a quick step back to keep the person in sight and check your flanks.  If you are driving a vehicle and suddenly a vehicle backs out in front of you and stops, look to your flanks immediately to see if something else is in store for you and get ready to push that car in front of you out of the way.

9.  Unsolicited attempts at conversation. C’mon…no one really falls for that anymore, do they? Unfortunately yes, yes they do.

10.  Baiting.  Ever been minding your own business and had someone bark, “What are you looking at?” or “What did you just say?”  If you answer the questions and they keep asking follow up questions then realize you’re the object of entertainment and that NOTHING you say will be the right thing. Get yourself out of the situation quickly before it goes completely South!

There are more indicators, of course, but these TOP 10 PRE-INCIDENT INDICATORS are a great start to raising your StreetWise IQ and avoiding some totally unpleasant situations!  So…put down your cell phone and become more aware of your surroundings.