One of the most common topics when discussing the duties of a security detail is scanning for potential threats or problems. What am I actually looking for? Define the term “head on a swivel? Is there a system to this technique? What can I do to better my situational awareness?
Whether you are in a crowded area, restaurant, or even your car, situational awareness is key, basically paying attention to everything that is going on around you. Whether consciously or subconsciously our brains are constantly absorbing data and with some training we are able to filter that data to identify possible threats.
-Scan the crowd from left to right a few degrees and stop
**Move your eyes over each individual within that “search field”, process and move on.
**Look at hands, clothing, & faces-these are key indicators
** Facial expressions will indicate a lot. Are they sweating? Are they focused on one particular object or individual? Do they appear to be angry or anxious?
**If focused on a particular individual, note whether the person they are preying on appears aware. Are they targeting a victim or communicating with an accomplice(s)?
** Note their clothing- does it fit the weather and environment? Are they wearing a backpack? What type and size is it, do they try to leave it?
** Hands- what’s in them? Where are they positioned? Are they hidden in pant pockets, inside a jacket, fidgeting, grabbing something from a bag or backpack etc…?
**Don’t over focus, and maintain a neutral posture. Remember, your facial expression is giving away your intent as well. Aggression can be spotted by even a complete novice.
- If you notice someone out of sync with the crowd, make eye contact. This alone may alert the possible threat to your presence and prevent an incident from ever occurring. (If on a team detail I may radio an agent to approach to gather more info or begin moving the principal from the area)
**This where situational awareness becomes the “ Territorial Imperative” or as Mr. Grey says, predators seeking predators.