Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Great advise…but only if you know who your enemies are.
We take special care to protect ourselves from the obvious. Sometimes we protect ourselves against threats that are not really there in the first place, allowing our own prejudices and stereotypes to dictate our behavior. We all do this to some degree or another.
“I would not go to that part of town after dark”.
“I would never drive over there alone.”
“I live in a gate guarded community…. you know…. to keep my family safe from those people.”
“I would never go to my car in a parking garage late at night. You never know who may be waiting for you.”
Ok. Great. You’ve taken some concrete steps to keep you safe.
Except: You never know when an accident or freeway closure forces you to “that part of town”.
You may or may not be alone at the time… and frankly your safety might be a heck of a lot improved if you are alone and not worrying about the safety of your passenger.
That gate guarded community only keeps two groups of people from accessing your home quickly… Cops and Firemen. Crooks have no problem getting past the rolling gate.
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Finally while you may have planned on going back to your car during the day, sometimes life gets in the way… if you want to go home in your car you’re going to have to walk through a parking structure at night sometimes.
This last one came into play the other night at Artemis.
A rather young and very pretty trainee was going through a scenario that put her up against armed assailants in a parking structure. After the debrief she said that she would never put herself in this position.
I asked her if she knew all of the people in her life that hated her. You know… her “enemies”.
She thought about it. “Yeah… I guess I do. But none of them are psychotic or sociopathic… They may hate me but they would never do anything that would cause physical harm.
”Hmmm..I asked her if she had a lot of attention in school from boys that hit on her.
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah…. I get that a lot”.
“Do you think any of them might be violent”
“No… well… I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, but no I don’t think so.”
“What about the guys that like you but you are totally unaware of them?”
“What about the guy that has been pining away for you for years, but you’ve never even noticed him. The guy that is totally quiet, but has developed a fetish for knowing everything about you. You know…. the weird guy.”
“Ughh! I don’t even want to think about that!”
“But you take precautions to minimize the impact of known threats like empty parking garages… what about the unknown threats like the hypothetical guy I just mentioned.”
This is a legitimate issue that often gets glossed over when we do individual threat assessments. We naturally look for the known threats… or rather potential threats that fit our general assumptions.
While we may live in a pleasant, well manicured community do we know the potential psychosis that might manifest within a couple of homes of our neighborhood?
We might know our neighbors… but do we know exactly what makes our neighbors “Crazy Uncle Charlie” crazy?
And are we aware of when he comes to visit?
We may know all of our daughters boyfriends… but do we know all of the guys that would like to be our daughters boyfriend… they just haven’t worked up the courage to communicate with her yet?
Being situationally aware is a multi level analysis and it is on going. Relying on our prejudices to build a template is, believe it or not, a rational starting off point.
I’m not going to criticize anyone for taking steps to keep themselves safe. That someone might be offended at their actions is completely irrelevant to me.
But these measures are simply starting off points. We must put in the requisite time to keep ourselves up to speed on all potential threats. We spend hours investigating the potential liabilities associated with a financial investment and are constantly looking for an “angle”.
Why don’t we do the same with our own safety and the safety of our family.