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Who Is Aware Of Their Surroundings – Uncovering Good Guys And Bad Guys

There are three types of people in the world: good guys, bad guys, and the clueless.  The working assumption is that most people in our society are clueless.  They are the people driving the speed limit in the left lane on the highway and unaware that there is a line of cars behind them wanting to pass.  They are the people walking down the middle of the sidewalk or through the mall with their face buried in their cell phone as they send text messages, unaware that they are walking slowly, swerving and making it difficult for people to get around them.  They are the people on the sidewalk who just stop walking to look at something without moving to the side and getting out of everyone else’s way.  This is most of the population.  Most people are comfortably condition white.  This is the baseline.

Good guys and bad guys are a little different.  Actually they are a lot different.  Good guys (the military, law enforcement, security personnel, paramedics, etc.) are aware of their surroundings.  Not only are they are trained to act this way, but because of their experiences hunting for criminals or their enemy, they are constantly searching the environment for threats.  It becomes engrained in our behavior.

Bad guys (criminals, insurgents, terrorists, rapists, etc.) will exhibit the same type of awareness as good guys and for the same purpose.  Threats to them are good guys.  They may be looking for police or military personnel around them to ensure they aren’t about to get caught or arrested.  They may be looking for security cameras to ensure their future crime won’t get caught on tape.  They may be looking for soft targets (the clueless and unaware) that will be easy targets for their attack.

Good guys and bad guys are aware of their surroundings.

Whenever you identify someone who is demonstrating this type of behavior, they become an anomaly and immediately warrant more attention.  As you observe them further, you may realize it is a good guy and therefore no longer an anomaly, but showing awareness definitely causes that person to stand out from the baseline.

Because we want to find criminals before they conduct their attack, we have to know what is included in showing situational awareness.  One indicator is what we refer to as “Checking Your Six.” This is when someone looks over their shoulder to see if there is anyone behind them who is observing them.  Many videos that you can find on the Internet of criminal attacks show them check their six as their last act before they conduct their crime.

Whenever you observe this behavior, you don’t need to wait for a cluster of three cues before you classify them as an anomaly.   Checking their six, or any variant of that behavior causes them to immediately stand out from the baseline.  We talk about the decisions you can make once you find an anomaly as kill, capture, or contact the anomaly, but at this point you will probably only be able to further observe them or contact them to figure out what is going on.  Checking their six will not justify you taking lethal action, at least not yet, but it lets you transition from scanning the area for threats and shift into Condition Orange.

You can now begin to determine what other behavior would indicate their intent to do harm to others and how many of those indicators you would need to observe before you take action.  You can now begin to establish a plan for how you will deal with the threat.  But you can’t shift into that planning mode without finding the anomaly to focus your attention.

In order to allow yourself to quickly recognize this behavior in real time and in unscripted scenarios, you need to build on and expand this specific file folder.  Watch this video of these criminals repeatedly to help this learning and recognition process.  Watch them look out the door to the store to ensure they are in the clear before they move in for the robbery.  This is just one example and just one experience that will help you recognize the act, but the greater the number of times you see it and in as many different scenarios as possible will be the steps necessary to become adept at observing human behavior.

There could be some other indicators in this clip, such as the fact that their hands are in their pockets for the entire time, possibly using that to further conceal the weapons they have.  We can conclude that these two are together as their close proximity as they enter, that you can confirm through the eye contact, the head nod and the slight hand gesture despite the lack of verbal communication between them.  They also display indicators that show a lack of interest in actually shopping in this store.  A jewelry store is a habitual area, as any person could come or go from there, but there is still the expectation that they are there for a purpose.  Their clear lack of a purpose, or at least a legitimate one, is an additional indicator that these two are potential threats.

If you have other videos or photos exhibiting this behavior, post them up in the comments so other readers can see them.

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4 Comments

  • Justin Rovtar

    Here is another good video of bad guys being very aware and checking their six.

    • author
      Patrick Van Horne

      Justin – thanks for submitting that, it is a great example as a pre-event indicator. We will also add an analysis of the video that to our Training Center for those who have already come through our course so they can study the behaviors, and the tactics, of criminals.

  • Justin Rovtar

    Here is another one. Watch the shooter as he appears from the top of the screen. he is in a red jacket. He checks his 6 at least two times before he shoots his target.

  • Justin,
    great find very well planned attack.

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