Back in 1986, I was living in a ground floor condo in a large complex where I thought I was safe. My apartment opened onto a grassy common area, which several buildings faced at differing angles, as it was not geometrical. While I was playing on my patio with my one year child, I heard a women yell “help me, somebody help me”. Unfortunately, her voice was faint and the buildings caused a slight echo, so I could not pinpoint the exact building or condo. As I searched the area, the voice abruptly stopped. Was she gagged? Beaten? It was not a prank. I called the police, who just did a cursory look, asked only a few questions, and then left. There was not much I could tell them. I wonder if a women died that day.
This experience taught me that the police are limited in their ability to prevent crimes. Maybe they don’t really care after being hardened by years of police work. Or maybe they cannot do more, frustrated by protocols, reports, superiors, or adverse news.
As I age, I fully understand the need for situational awareness and preparation. Below is a mental exercise or awareness process that we should consider doing every day.
Ask yourself some questions.
What Do I Actually Know?
Think, what do I actually know about (based on factual evidence):
- This person
- This group of people
- This company
- This place
- This situation
How Do I Know?
As yourself, how do I know what I know?
- What is my source of information – friends, news media, experience, other
- What presumptions have I made based on what I think I know
- Are there presumptions I have made based on what I have heard
- What presumptions have I made based on social norms and customs
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said, “There are:
- Known knowns – demonstrated facts and evidence (e.g. someone’s job, address, et cetera),
- Known unknowns – known gaps in knowledge based on missing evidence (i.e. someone’s intentions and motives),
- Unknown unknowns – complete blanks/surprises (e.g. someone’s hidden, secret vices)
Where Am I Vulnerable?
Ask yourself, where or how am I vulnerable? What might I be up against?
- Area. Is is known for crimes? What’s the area profile?
- Place – Restaurant? A theater? A home?
- Event – Who to expect? Who will I know?
Strengths and Avoidance Strategies
Ask yourself, what are my strengths, and what are my avoidance strategies?
- “What ifs” – Be realistic, but think through possible scenarios.
- Tools/cash/clothes for weather conditions that might be useful.
What Looking For
Think to yourself, what should I be looking for?
- Signs that something might be wrong
Based Off Past Experiences
As I said, this is based off my past experiences, such as the women mentioned above. There have been other experiences with people or with situations that have influenced my thinking. I also borrow heavily on reading books, such as Left of Bang, The Gift of Fear, et cetera as well as incorporating Col. Jeff Cooper’s Color Code, which was something I did not read about or understand until the early 2000s.
One More Experience
One more experience that I would like to highlight. Several years ago, I was taking a bus from New York City to Washington DC. I had traveled this route many times. We were nearing the end of the New Jersey Turnpike. The traffic was congested, but I had seen much worse. Suddenly the bus exited at the second to last exit on the Turnpike. It was late evening and most people were sleeping or playing on their iPhones. I doubt they were aware of the detour.
I was not concerned either but was curious why the driver took this exit, but I did not know where the road went or how we were going to get back to the highway. And, I was not too alarmed, however I started thinking. How do I know the driver’s intentions? Who cleared this driver? Where was he going? Was the bus company able to track us? What signs or indications should alert me to problems? Are there options? What did I have on me?
Never Think You Are Safe
In this age of terrorism, car bombings, kidnappings, serial killers, violent political/social activism that happen every day around the world, including in the USA or Europe (both assumed to be safe areas), we have seen brutal and very public attacks. Never think you are safe!
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been another entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
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- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
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- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
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Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.
As far as the police keeping you ‘ safe ‘. That is a myth. All they are required to do is ” keep the peace ” The old saying ” When seconds count, the police are only minutes away” is very true. And of course you always have the chance of the police you are looking to help you, are like the school shooting police who sat outside, ‘ keeping the outside safe.’
“police are limited in their ability to prevent crimes” I’ve always looked at this commonly used phrase with some confusion. Police really don’t prevent crimes IMO, they are there to identify and hopefully catch and bring to justice those that have already committed crimes.
Don’t get me wrong, the fact that police are in an area occasionally causes hesitation in would-be criminals, and some crimes aren’t committed because of the fear of being caught and punished definitely has some merit.
My son is a police officer. He recently called and strongly suggested that I carry my Ruger LCP on my person during routine shopping trips. He said shooters and especially knife attacks are increasing in his city. This falls under situational awareness and a plan to evade attack. Stay alert.
The Supreme Court has ruled that police are under no obligation to protect you. Time and time again we see on the news where police have stood down in mass shooting and riots. The police are there to write tickets and generate revenue for the government. When assessing my personal security, the police aren’t even a consideration. It is my policy not to talk to them. I’ve seen people talk themselves into trouble. You and you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.
Personal safety is about taking advantage of the percentages. Avoid high crime areas. Don’t go to the bank at night. Leave escape distance between you and the car in front of you. Keep you doors locked and windows up. Listen to inner voice and pay attention to your surroundings. Even playing the percentages to your advantage, you still have a chance things can go wrong but it will cut down on the chance of bad things happening to you.
While I agree with the fundamental message of this article, be aware of your surroundings and do not take anything for granted, there is a point I would like to make.
There is a fine line between being aware and being paranoid, I would caution folks not to fall to the latter. Maintaining situational awareness is an excellent plan, but do not assume you will become a victim if you turn your back. Our perceptions of reality often define our reality.
Lastly, in regards to crime and the police, if you look at any REPUTABLE crime statistics, (the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report), you’ll see that violent crime has been declining almost everywhere in the US from the early 90s, with the obvious exceptions of major cities like Chicago, NY, LA, etc. In fact, most gruesome violent crime we usually think of is committed by loved ones against loved ones. Most murders (statistically) take place within families. Think about that for a minute!
The media has done a fantastic job of making everyone so paranoid about random acts of violence, however the bottom line is statistically they’re just not that probable. But of course, they do happen.
What an awesome statement “Our perceptions of reality often define our reality.”-Loved your comments in general and that in particular
Thank you sir, God bless
Two thoughts on the article: Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean someone isn’t trying to hurt you; and most importantly, police, due to the way the law works, mainly have to pick up the pieces after the people problems have occurred. Any peace the presence of police causes is a happy benefit.
Our police forces have evolved into one of our Founders greatest fears: A Standing Army. Bob Livingston is right, they protect government and their own gang and serve as jack-booted revenue collectors and enforcers. Yesterday’s Officer Friendly is now Darth SWAT.
Darth Swat with a revenue quota to meet
I have been victimized by assault, and robbers several times in my life, and not all of them were from FedGov! Tell me what you fear when you are all alone, and I will tell you what your reality concerning that fear is. We have much less fear of being attacked when we are with people we know and trust, and much more fear when we are alone. There’s no lesson there, almost every one knows about that, and knows why it is true. I stopped depending on any “authorities” years ago, when I dislocated my artificial hip, and called an ambulance. No less than seven paramedics arrived, (they were all also firemen), and before I was wheeled out on a gurney for a $500 three mile trip to the hospital, these unprintable sports searched my house! When the hip went out six months later, again, I drove myself to the hospital, saving $500 and being searched illegally again. Our Secretary of Defense said it all. “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill every one you meet”. I know I’m never safe, because I have nearly been killed several times.
Time and again history has shown that the unaware are targeted by criminals. I am acutely aware of my surroundings; you may say paranoid, I say I am vigilant. The weak and injured in nature are removed by predators. I advise my wife and have taught my children to be aware. Watch your surroundings, seek exits, look at people in the eye. The FBI Uniform Crime Report only collates those statistics it receives.
Not all law enforcement agencies report to the FBI. Not all statistics make it into the NCIC.
I will agree that violent crime has been decreasing, however according to the UCR “… overall violent crime decreased 0.8 percent in the first six months of 2017 compared with the same time frame in 2016, though the number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters reported increased by 1.5 percent. Additionally, the number of rapes (revised definition) decreased 2.4 percent, robberies decreased 2.2 percent, and aggravated assaults were down 0.1 percent.” The report includes data from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide that submitted crime data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.
My vigilance is not just for crime, but life as a whole. I try to evaluate everything from crossing a street to crossing a trout stream. I never thought I’d have to respond to an active shooter in my work place, but it happened. I now carry a tourniquet in all my cars, my go bag, and hunting pack.
I love life! I enjoy life! I just want to enjoy it for a long time. I like this site as I believe it has like minded individuals who are prepared.
The only one who is going to watch out for you is YOU. SEMPER PARATUS!
I live in a city and once heard a woman screaming for help somewhere outdoors. I could not figure out where she might be. When I called 911, I was treated as the criminal. I was grilled and grilled, until I hung up. 911 immediately called me back and resumed the grilling. I doubt they ever sent anyone to look for that woman. For the next 24 hours I was terrified the police would come bursting into my apartment. Now I won’t call 911 anymore.
As many of you have noted here before, there is no substitute for having trusted people in our lives.
I had a fellow tell me once how close he came to tripping a booby-trap. His fireteam buddy stopped him just short. Those extra eyes and ears help us avoid the bad stuff. Furthermore, being in affiliation with someone you trust will lead to increased well-being (https://apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/hea-0000103.pdf), (https://socialhealth.byu.edu/Pages/Home1.aspx) The death rate from crime is low. The death rate from all other causes is very high. That human connection will help you postpone the latter.
I also believe the police are a self serving entity and your personal safety is just a passing nod in your direction. Certainly the majority of police are decent people like in most professions. ( well maybe not Russian executioners ) But we cannot ignore that they protect their own to the sometimes detriment of the people they have sworn to serve and protect.
As others above have noted be your own security service and don’t let that job be handled by public servants who may or may not be there in your time of peril.
You haven’t lived until a criminal group of people have tried to have you , their target swatted. That after a period of harassment and stalking. The worst thing is when you do all the right things in reporting it and nobody believes you. Until then I had the utmost respect for law enforcement. Now it depends on each individual officer. I do believe in karma however and God almighty. It took a few years but the main offender was finally arrested. The thing that drove him was bath salts. This person was friends of local cops, so who do you think they listened too? You absolutely must protect yourself and your family, no one else has any desire to help you when its really needed.
The Police in America are very much like the Police here in Britain – if they can stop a crime they will. but their job is to catch the crim.
Some will have committed TWENTY offences before being caught…
Add to that that the police are not obligated to protect you. Parkland demonstrated that fatal fact again.