By Tracy Barnhart, Backgate contributing Author
I believe it is important to develop your awareness and detection skills, but when it comes to violence, luck can play a significant role. As a former no-holds-barred fighter, I saw and experienced how quickly a fighter with superior skills could be defeated by a newbie who got lucky. If they would fight 100 times, the superior fighter would probably win 90 times or more, but the newbie still has a chance. With violent encounters, there is no referee or rules and a lucky cut, stab, or shot can kill you, even if you eventually stop the threat.
Although it sounds overly simplistic, one of the best ways to survive a violent encounter is topred avoid violent encounters all together. One of the best ways to avoid violent encounters is to train your mind to recognize the predators, and the quickest way to do this is to start thinking like one. For the next, several days pretend that you are an inmate in your facility. As you go about your daily operation, picture how you would ambush someone in the various places in which you find yourself throughout the shift.
Pay particular attention to which staff you would feel comfortable ambushing and which ones wouldn’t be worth the risk. What common actions do you have with potential victims that you can change? What actions make others not worth attacking that you can begin to mimic? Try to ignore physical attributes they only camouflage the bunny or beast inside.
As you work through out the day observe where in the building or institutional facilities would you hide if you were going to attack someone? With a little practice, you will be amazed at how many spots in which you might be able to hide and dead space areas that exist in your institution. Start watching how you open doors. In particular, note where you’re looking, which arm you use to push or pull open the door, and how that helps or hinders your ability to react to someone attacking you on the other side. After you have learned to spot the ideal physical settings for an attack, you need to then spot potential predators.
You need to pay attention to the physical mannerism of potential predators. When you see an inmate approaching you, ask yourself is he dressed appropriately for the climate circumstances? Is he wearing baggy clothing to hide a potential weapon? Are his shoes tied tightly or are strapped up? Don’t be afraid to look inmates straight in the eye. You want to know if they’re checking you out as a possible victim. Does the potential predator have his hands in his pockets or in his waistband, perhaps holding a weapon? Does he appear nervous, sweating or breathing heavily?
Most attacks come from behind but, inside our institutions inmates will attack you straight on and may even inform you what they plan to do, so learn to expand your field of vision and never get caught looking at the ground like your in need of a quarter for the vending machine. Most of us tend to stare when we look at something. Here is a simple exercise you can use to break this habit and expand your field a vision. Look at an object in the room you are in. Now, without moving your eyes or head, what do you see out of the sides of your eyes? How about top and bottom?
It’s amazing how much more you see when you pay attention to your peripheral vision. Imagine a hose nozzle that can be adjusted back and forth from a wide spray to a concentrated stream. When you need to focus on something, tighten the nozzle and then quickly adjust your vision back to a wide spray. As you develop your vision, with a little twist of your head you will be able to scan almost 360 degrees around you. No one will ever be able to sneak up on you again. Try it and see for yourself. Most civilians have never seen a real criminal in person, but you have seen countless on a daily shift. You get to see the worst that society has to offer in terms of vicious criminals and they are all in one place. So as part of your training and daily routines you have got to observe mannerisms and threatening postures. You have to make a conscious effort to learn how they think and act.
You need to become an expert in spotting predators and categorizing them according to their specialty and propensity for violence. By watching and listening to their conversations, you get a feel for what they are like, the way they move, act and THE WAY THEY WATCH OTHERS. What you’re looking for is a way of spotting those who are mean, sadistic or emotionally disturbed. They are the violent predators who will attack you first and then laugh at you just for the fun of it. They are the ones you want to spot early on. You want plenty of time to avoid, evade or otherwise deal with these inmates on your terms and locations.
“WARNING: Your Survival Could Depend On Your Next Choice”We are living in some of the craziest times in history and many experts agree that it is not a matter of “if” but “when” you will face an emergency that is beyond what you and your co-workers have trained or prepared for. Police officers are being killed at an alarming rate, which we have never seen before. Individuals are becoming more aggressive toward authority and are not consciously held back by their natural fear of authority and are quick to disrespect and attack that authority figure. There is a famous truism among instructors getting soldiers ready for war:
“When the bullets start flying, you WON’T rise to the occasion.You could use my instructional guidance to train your mind into the most effective survival tool you can possess. On the other hand, you can stick with your current operational plan and HOPE that your individual agency academy instruction has given you all the tools you will need and has prepared you for what is going to happen. I have studied the human denial response. It is a cruel mental condition and leaves you mentally vulnerable to attack and victimization. You see, the denying officer knows the truth on some level, but experiences constant anxiety because they refuse to address it.
You will perform half as well as you did during your best training.”
Simply denying that a threat does not exists or by denying, that it will never happen to you will not relieve your sub-conscious mind of what it already knows. The only way to put your mind at ease is to consciously identify, face, and deal with the reality that you work with the potential for violence daily. Through out my writing instruction, I walk you through the aggression identification process in easy bite-sized chunks so you can face your fears about survival and have the peace of mind that comes with KNOWING you are prepared for the occasion when your life depends on it.
Trust your instincts. If you feel like you are in a situation that could go wrong, have a look at what your options are to get out of it and do so as soon as possible. Often your body picks up signals that you do not consciously realize. If you feel uneasy but you are not sure why, trust that your senses are warning you and try to identify where the threat is coming from. Anything can be a weapon. If you are in a situation, where you think you might have to fight, be aware of anything you have on yourself or is nearby that can be used as a potential weapon. This can be anything from your coat, a set of keys, to a cup of coffee or a nearby chair. Especially if your opponent has a weapon, be sure to keep a barrier between the two of you when possible.
Rely on yourself and trust your judgment. You have the ability to determine the outcome of a confrontation, use this wisely and you will not look back and regret your actions. Arm yourself with knowledge. The more you know about how to react to a variety of situations the safer you feel no matter where you are. Practice what you know and think about how what you know can be applied to situations you could possibly find yourself in.