If you haven’t heard it before, the old adage of “Murphy’s Law” is truer now than ever before. Often, as security professionals, we find ourselves responding to questions and concerns our clients and their patrons have about personal safety. Not just questions about safety in the work environment but safety concerns outside of the workplace, such as leaving a crowded venue or going home from the office later in the evening.
Some examples of the more common concerns we have encountered over the years are “What happens when someone confronts me?”, “What do I do if someone attempts to take my belongings by force?”, and “How do I keep myself safe if I am leaving work alone?”.
By following the tips below you will maintain a greater understanding of what is going on in your current environment. Just by knowing what is happening around you significantly increases your chances of mitigating a potential treat and will assist you in keeping calm and getting through a situation if it should arise.
Protect Yourself As If No One Else Will
In this day and age, knowing how to protect yourself is paramount. The following examples are just a few things you can do that will help you understand your surroundings with more detail and may help in avoiding a situation you would rather not find yourself in.
Making eye contact with people as you pass them by says a lot. A smile and a friendly wave can go a long way in determining if someone is a potential threat to your safety.
Avoid dark areas as much as possible. Understandably, this is not always possible. If you must travel through an unlit area, using the light on your cellphone to illuminate the area is a great deterrent. Not to mention, you now have immediate access to a video recording device in the case you may need it.
SAFETY IS IN NUMBERS. When walking at night, do your best to walk in groups or in a buddy team. If you are leaving the workplace late in the evening and do not have anyone to walk to your vehicle with, don’t be shy about asking the security guard on duty to walk with you. If security isn’t present, or your workplace does not have security, make a phone call to a friend or family member and talk about your day on the way to your car.
Keep your personal belongings close to your body and make sure you have your keys in hand before exiting a building so that you are not digging for them when you get to your vehicle. Keep wallets in front pockets when possible and keep purses, bags, and clutches firmly tucked between your body and underneath your arm. The idea is to minimize as much space as possible and keep your personal belongings on an area of the body that you can directly see in the case someone attempts to take them from you.
Randomize, randomize, and randomize again. Do this as often as possible when heading from one location to the next. Don’t always take the same path to your home or to work or to your car for that matter. It is easy to get wrapped up in life and consistently take the quickest route while heading from one place to another. But this behavior creates patterns, and the kind of people that are looking to take from you love patterns.
Communication is another key element to personal safety. As mentioned before, a simple phone call can discourage a would-be thief in the night. Just knowing that you are in real-time contact with another person tells an assailant that someone knows where you are, and that you are currently expected to arrive at a new location soon. Not to mention, if for some reason you are incapacitated in any way you have someone that can call 911 for you right away.
What To Do If Something Happens
If you are confronted by someone and it is clear that they intend to take your belongings, LET THEM TAKE WHATEVER THEY WANT. I know that this is not what people like to hear, just to quickly weigh the pros and cons. If you succeed in defending your personal belongings, did you just open yourself up to other kinds of liability? If you attempt to secure your belongings and are not successful, what might happen after your attempt has been defeated? Always assume that someone attempting to take from you has some sort of weapon, and that they intend to use it to accomplish their goal, even if one is not visible. Your physical wellbeing is more important that a $200 gadget and whatever cash you may have on hand.
- Stay calm and take a deep breath Maintaining an elevated level of tact is not always the first reaction you would expect of yourself during a critical incident. Your goal is to deescalate the situation as much as possible to avoid personal injury. Keeping in mind that this person’s goal is to get out of the area as quickly as possible. So you can rest with the assurance that this situation will be over quickly, and you will be safe again soon.
- Start taking mental notes: What does the person look like, do they have an accent, what color is their clothing, do they have any visible tattoos, scars or easily identifiable features that can be quickly described to law enforcement. How does the person compare to your physical stature, was their height at your eye level? Were they skinnier or a larger build than you? How were they dressed? All this information can greatly assist local law enforcement in correctly identifying and finding this person quickly.
What To Do After An Incident
- Call 911 immediately. This sounds like a no-brainer, but the greater the amount of time between an incident occurring and local law enforcement being notified, the greater the chances that the person that committed the crime will get away.
- This is the part where the mental notes you took will come into play. If you can do so, write them down as quickly as possible or use the audio recorder on your phone. Scores of papers have been written about the lack of reliability of memory over time. Writing these items down will help local law enforcement immensely. The details of your observations may unintentionally change over time and having some sort of documentation generated as close as possible to the time the incident occurred will help later on.
- While waiting for law enforcement, go to a safe, well-lit place nearby if you can. The more people that are present at this new location the better. If there were any witnesses, try to talk with them and ask for assistance, especially if you are hurt. Remember, safety in numbers applies even if you don’t know everyone present.
- Once you have finished your report with law enforcement, now is a good time to be with close friends and family. You just experienced one of the most traumatic events someone could go through in their life. Having a support system can help tremendously.
No matter what path life may take you on, any confrontation with someone that does not have your best intentions in mind can be mentally and emotionally draining.
There are few things that you can control when confronted with a person that intends to take from you or do you harm. One of the few things you can influence is how you react to the situation. Ground yourself in detail and think through what is happening when provided an opportunity to do so. And above all else, remain calm. The tone was not set by you, but you can influence how the tone develops over the course of the interaction. Calm is infectious, being calm can save your life.
Talos Secure Group is a provider of private security services, with its headquarters based in Northern California. Our executive management team has over 40 years of combined experience in the security field from working in United States and abroad. We see the security industry through a different lens than the majority of our competition. Due to our vast experience working with law enforcement, NGO’s and government officials at all levels, Talos Secure Group understands the importance of having a practical and comprehensive security plan that works for both our clientele and us.