Threat Assessment Guidelines: Are You At Risk?
ATAC TV Survival & Preparedness
Understanding what constitutes a threat and how to accurately perform a threat assessment are no longer just tasks for the law enforcement and military communities. With the present threat of terrorism and criminal syndicates escalating in America and abroad, we as a people-all people from all nations, must learn or enhance skills to adapt to these ever-growing threats. We must become increasingly vigilant in our daily lives so that we can better protect our families and our nation.
United we stand is the theme of the times, this can be interpreted in numerous ways, however for purposes of our discussion, we will consider that an educated people can stand stronger and more ready to develop effective countermeasures against those who would try to do us harm.
There are several key factors that will help you identify and evaluate potential threats. Reviewing these basic elements can help you analyze most situations quickly so that you can institute any action or reaction.
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Look at things like physical stature and body language-how they stand, do they stand upright with an air of confidence or are they slouched over? What is the position of their head relative to their body? Does their posture or stance lead you to believe that they may be aggressive? Can you determine if they are right or left handed?
Do they seem nervous? Look for signs of nervousness in either a physical manifestation such as twitching, repetitive hand, finger, foot or eye movements or verbally in their speech patterns. ?Overall, do they seem cool, calm and collected, volatile and rash, or cool and concealing?
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?
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 their overall presentation to determine intent. Intent indicates the dangerousness of the situation you are confronted with.
Once you have determined the dangerousness of the situation, you must immediately scan for weapons. First look at the hands for immediate threats, look for traditional weapons such as guns, knives and other edged weapons but also be aware that weapons can take the form and shape of almost anything-even things we are familiar and comfortable with.
Look at backpacks, briefcases, fanny packs, purses, handbags, and shopping bags. Be aware of unattended and abandoned items such as these and others, which may be left behind on purpose. Scan for anything that overtly resembles a bomb or other explosive device, or anything that could be used to conceal one.
If they are holding a weapon, again take note as to which hand is holding it and how they are holding it. Weapon handling is critical to your assessment and decision making process as this can help you understand how they can use the weapon as well as how you can gain a tactical or secure advantage. Also be aware that many implements, even basic ones such as pens and pencils can be used as weapons.
Additionally, look for things that seem to be out of place such as someone holding a can or spraying something in the air-even if it seems as innocuous as perfume or someone dropping something seemingly on purpose-even an egg, someone putting on a hood, facial mask or gas mask in a public place, anyone holding a glass vial or test tube, or any other things which may seem out of place or unusual.
Lastly in the traditional sense, always remember the most dangerous weapon in the world is the one you do not see!
The potential threat may be a single individual or a group of individuals; in either case we call this the Force. Quickly note whether or not the individual appears to be acting alone. Keep your eyes scanning the surroundings in case there are other people assisting who may have concealed themselves or who have not yet identified themselves.
In a terrorist scenario, think of the case in which there is a hijacked airliner wherein the trigger man (individual with a remote triggering device for an explosive or other type weapon delivery system), also known as a “sleeper”, pretends to be a passenger while the hijackers take control of the airplane. In simpler scenarios involving street crimes the carjacker may have a backup crew nearby.
In considering street crimes 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 or spent time rehearsing and/or planning this?
Next, assess the distance between yourself and the threat. Distance here being a function of your ability to take action and/ or react. The amount of time you need to act or react to the situation is termed the “Critical Response Interval”. Keep in mind that factors such as stress and the physiological changes that occur under duress as well as your physical condition can greatly affect your critical response interval and thus the outcome of the situation.
Be aware of the environment. Sometimes you may find that your surroundings can assist you in the execution of your tactical plan. Quickly assess the surroundings for anything that could help you gain some tactical ground or a covered position. Environmental weapons and weapons of chance such as garbage can covers, sticks, rocks, pens and pencils, kitchen utensils and the like can make for good substitute weapons in a close quarter situation. And finally, you must as part of your assessment, scan for an escape route or back door.
Lastly, you must evaluate all of these elements, variables and conditions against yourself. That is your training, experience, weapons, mental, emotional and physical state, and any limitations that can affect the potential outcome of the situation.