A small townhouse in Redlands, California, was extremely popular. It got deliveries at all hours, and the residents seemed to work in the garage all night long, when most people are sometimes asleep. Some of the neighbors thought it was strange, but no one thought it unusual enough to call the police and report this odd behavior.
One neighbor reportedly detected this “suspicious activity” at the house but didn’t need to report the activity out of an unfounded fear. That fear materialized when its occupants conducted a terrorist attack and fatally shot fourteen individuals and wounded dozens of others in San Bernardino, California. After the attack, investigators seized roughly 4,500 rounds of ammunition, twelve pipe-bomb-type devices and bomb-making tools, yet nobody reported this suspicious activity. This was a tragedy that may have been averted had someone paid attention and took action.
Like anything in life, paying attention to your surroundings could be a key to survival. Situational awareness at its core is being aware of things around you and identifying what’s out of place. Criminals of every swath use this well. They usually identify their “prey” largely by targeting victims that aren’t paying attention and using sensible situational awareness. For instances, you shouldn’t jog off a trail at dusk. You should notice any cars parked in an unlit and lightly traveled area. And you shouldn’t ignore screams in the distance. All of these scenarios, if paid attention to early on, could be a key to avoiding or surviving any dangerous situation.
Bad guys are usually portrayed in movies and television shows as devious and in many cases hideous looking. The villain is usually shown lurking in dark corners, pacing about like a caged animal waiting for something to pounce on. The films usually show the villain dressed in black or dark colors, and sometimes with some kind of fixation or mental issue.
While some of these traits might be part of a villain’s personality, it’s a mistake to believe that villians in the world adhere to any stereotypes. In Ohio, Ariel Castro seemed normal. He drove a bus and lived in a regular neighborhood, in a two-story, four-bedroom home. From all outward appearances, he was “normal.” This “normal” guy was anything but, and from 2002 to 2004 he abducted and physically and sexually abused three young ladies. This villain confined Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus in a basement jail while the outside world saw nothing unusual. So, despite the stereotypes, seemingly “normal” people can easily be villains.
Pre-attack behavior comes in several forms, but it maintains some key patterns. Paying attentions to those warning signs may save your life. All dangerous guys tend to stalk their prey in one form of another. Pre-attack surveillance allows them to identify a target, watch it to choose up on patterns, behavior, etc., and then strike when the opportunity is right. Telegraphing a target of opportunity versus being a hard target will mean the difference between dangerous guys choosing to target you or someone else. The less appealing you make yourself as a target, the lower your chances of a bad guy choosing you as prey.
As previously mentioned, bad guys tend to target their prey. This can be also referred to as scanning. Someone who is scanning is typically moving their head from side to side while their eyes appear to be searching for something — usually their next target. Surveilling is the next step after scanning. This can be when a bad guy has identified a target and then watches it to choose up on behavior patterns. This can be where your situational awareness can facilitate and alert you that someone may be watching you.
Once they have enough info, or if you catch them watching you, they’ll divert their gaze away from you. When a person is attempting to mentally process a situation, it’s difficult to multitask, and if they’re staring at you and you interrupt their thought — the “gotcha moment” — it’s a natural reaction to divert your eyes from what you’re looking at.
Another potential reaction when they divert their glance is an attempt to hide their face. Someone on the verge of an attack may attempt to conceal their stress by hiding their face. This way they attempt to not offer any indicators away.
A bad guy also will go through some physiological changes just before attacking. One of these is someone exhibiting shallow and speedy breathing. This physiological anomaly is an indicator of stress and agitation—when the body is trying to oxygenate itself just before action. When adrenaline is coursing through an agitated person, their hands and feet may be trembling or shaking. this is often associate degree other indication of a possible attacker in an agitated state. a potential attacker may also start to assume an attack-like position, usually an involuntary action of the body.
One of the first steps to avoiding an attack is to be aware. As indicated before, situational awareness of your surroundings and the people around you’ll be the most effective way to avoid walking into hassle. Picking up on what many of us consider strange behavior may be a key that helps you survive. When in doubt, hear your internal voice.
Planning in life is usually necessary, and even more so when it comes to life-and-death situations. Whenever you walk into any situation, your mind should be examining “what-if” scenarios. Looking at your present scenario, you must be asking yourself what you’d do if “X,” “Y” or “Z” happens. Where are the escape routes? Where can you hide? Questions like these, thought out ahead of time, may become muscle memory if something bad actually happens.
Part of your plan will also involve movement—movement can keep you safe by transporting you from an unsafe situation to a safe one. Movement is automatically part of any plan, and thinking about your movement can overcome a freeze response that may inhibit survival. The freeze response is one of the most deadly physiological responses to a crisis. Overcoming a freeze response with movement can take you from victim to victor.
What all of this amounts to is keying on specific behaviors of people. Certain behaviors are more indicative of criminal acts than others, and if you’re paying attention to those behaviors, it could be a lifesaver. Like the public service message says, if you see something, say something. In almost each incident of victim crime that happens, in its aftermath somebody says, “I thought that looked suspicious.” But, just like in the San Bernardino attack last year, folks are reluctant to mention something out of usually unfounded fears.
Police across the United States have a mission to keep you safe. Arguably, keeping someone safe or protecting them from harm is the part of the job that keeps them going. The police never mind a call to report something or someone suspicious. In several cases, the mere presence of police may thwart a bad issue from happening.
At the entrance to the Stade de France in Paris, the magnetometers and uniformed security did simply that—they kept the suicide bombers outside the stadium. Those uniformed security arguably saved many lives by their mere presence. Despite the anti-police rhetoric that some mistakenly believe, when danger lurks, the most necessary issue you’ll do is call the police quickly and let them investigate the matter.
Tragedy can strike at a moment’s notice. While you’ll not be ready to avoid a bad situation, and since dangerous guys don’t always look like they do in the movies, the key to surviving any dangerous situation is to assess, respond and react.