Bill Martin, PPS
What is Situational Awareness?
Most of us have used certain techniques known or similar to what security professionals call situational awareness, a highly effective tool in crime/violence prevention. The observation skills used and incorporated make us sensitized to something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected (anomalies) within a particular environment. Our security team and protective detail was adequately trained and experienced in these aspects. We found them highly effective and quite successful.
The Incorporation and Integration of Behavioral Analysis:
Behavioral identification/analysis techniques incorporate a different set of skills and mental process. The incorporation of leakage is actively integrated throughout our assessments. The trained and experienced professional will assess the involuntary clues known as (leakage) and gain vital building block information.
The security practitioner who is experienced in behavioral assessments (leakage) understands and comprehends that people tend to reveal certain things about themselves unconsciously and involuntarily, becoming sensitized to these types of aspects enables us to act on the information we assess in a professional and appropriate manner.
A Personal Story That Illustrates Behavioral Analysis and Leakage:
It was a cold holiday weekend and we were traveling to visit family in another state. My wife and I decided to use a car ferry to cross state lines. We really enjoy the scenery traveling across the Long Island Sound. The weekend was great, and it was time to drive back home. As we were approaching the ferry entrance, we noticed several Department of Homeland Security Agents and a Strong Police Presence. They also had several dogs checking vehicles for explosives.
Was there a credible threat?
I pulled into the entrance and parked my car in a staging area, not uncommon before boarding the vessel. We were approached by a DHS Agent, while waiting in the staging area. I was in the driver’s seat, my wife in the passenger’s seat and my young son in the back seat of the car. I rolled down the window as the agent approached the driver’s side of the car. The Agent was friendly and respectful. He engaged me in casual conversation. The questions he asked were not intimidating. “How are you doing this morning?” “Where are you going today?” Simple casual questions and yet it caught me slightly off guard.
The final question he asked was a perfect example of an aspect of leakage (dress attire):
“Who was in the Marine Corp?” How did he know I was in the Corp? I asked him why did he ask and how did he know? I happened to be wearing a hooded sweatshirt with a small Marine Corp emblem inscribed on my upper front left side. I put this on in the morning as a matter of routine, I did it unconsciously. He was using behavioral analysis techniques to clear us or possibly detain us. Of course, we were cleared in a matter of minutes. He assessed and mentally processed the information he needed in a fraction of time, which gave him the confidence to clear us. He was professional, respectful and friendly in all his communications and mannerisms.
I told my wife afterwards; he just threw me off guard using similar techniques that I am accustomed to utilizing.
How does Leakage Work?
- The more you think about something the closer you come, to doing it.
- If a person believes in something so strong and intense it will begin to leak out.
- Fantasy exists before the action; you can see fantasy before the action through leakage.
Let’s Break it Down Further Applying One Aspect of Leakage (Dress Attire)
I used the analogy of jewelry (an aspect of leakage) during a full day presentation at the Pennsylvania Institute of Criminological and Forensic Sciences. It was a great interactive exercise and tons of fun for all the professional attendees.
Accessories like jewelry are not a functional article of clothing as are shoes, which are generally worn for comfort, style, protection and the occasion. People wear jewelry for several reasons, but in most cases, it is not necessary or required to wear before leaving one’s home (unless for medical purposes). Some of the most common reasons for wearing jewelry are for fashion or sentimental value. Less common reasons are simply for attention and attitude. But either way jewelry often reveals a small piece of someone’s personality and may also give a trained behavioral analyst more vital building block information.
Case Example Mass Murder:
The Northern Illinois University Gunman Steven Kazmierczek revealed certain things about himself prior to the massacre on Feb 14, 2008.
His violent and horrific actions came as a shock to many including friends, family members, students and faculty. These are just some of the questions that often plague us in the aftermath of such horrific violence.
Body Imagery is another form of communicated behavior (leakage):
Kazmierczek was certainly revealing his thoughts, feelings, personal interests and/or passions. They were leaking out in the form of body imagery.
Protective Detail Case Example of Leakage: (Possessions and Non- Verbal’s)
A single white male who appeared to be in his mid to upper thirties is observed walking into to the church. Most men that attend the Sunday Services will be well-groomed and dressed in business type attire. This male was no different because he was finely groomed and dressed in a business suit and tie which appeared to be clean and pressed. He did not indicate or possess anything unusual on the surface. Because many men will enter the building with a small briefcase or something very similar.
But the cues and nuances he was leaking in his non-verbal’s were raising some behavioral concerns coupled with the manner in which he handled the briefcase. We mentally processed the varying different aspects of leakage and decided to engage him in a friendly casual conversation. We would quickly learn what we needed to know.
He affirmed our concerns; his possessions (the briefcase) gave him a sense of importance and great significance, the briefcase made him feel powerful, something of a higher status. He went on to inform us that he was intending to take the stage and assume the role of the head minister. This information allowed us to set boundaries and align ourselves appropriately. He would go on to begin a stalking campaign in which our principal became the primary target. We carefully monitored the situation and involved other supports and disciplines that assisted us in safeguarding the situation and our principal.
Those who are entrusted with the high calling of providing personal protection for their clients may encounter certain other type of stalkers who tend to be attracted to powerful and important people.
Celebrities, high profile political and religious figures are prime targets for identity – type stalkers which are looking for fame themselves, and the recognition they can attain through their acts.
Leakage aspects will help assist the close protection operative during their day to day work, they will become more and more sensitized to behaviors associated to leakage. Individuals and/or groups that believe strongly about something will leak out through one or more of these aspects. The practitioner may also recognize cues and nuances of what is deemed important and of value to a particular individual through various forms of leakage.
Much like a threat assessment… What someone spends their time, money and energy upon is of great personal interest and highly valued:
What one learns in these few seconds or minutes may prove valuable insight and possibly save lives.
It’s Much More Than Book Knowledge:
The ability to be sensitized with the skills to mentally process concerning behaviors varies differently from person to person. Some have thought that simply by reading books or attending training seminars automatically equips us for the task at hand.
All of our team members had been trained in behavioral identification and threat analysis, but not all were able to translate what they learned in the classroom and apply that knowledge into the real world.That means real life application is much more challenging than what we ever realized.
Development through Training & Mentoring:
A good leader must work patently on developing those within the team that are not readily grasping the training and material; here mentoring may be the preferred method. The rewards are huge when a team member begins to grasp the concepts being taught, it produces such a confidence.
Some of our team members began to learn that there are cases that are truly threatening and volatile and then there are other situations that require sensitivity, tact and careful interaction, because nothing can undue a professional (even momentarily) like overreaction or inappropriate approaches.
Those of us who understand the use and effectiveness of applying behavioral analysis will reap the rewards and benefits. Incorporating and integrating the knowledge we learn will no doubt have an advantage in crime and violence prevention.
Organizations, institutions and corporations will also benefit by the professionalism and preemptive measures employed by a trained practitioner:
These are some of the follow-up measures that skilled practitioners may choose to implement: