Preparation or Paranoia?

Paranoia photo

Preparation or Paranoia?

Is it better to be prepared or paranoid? Can you be over-prepared? Well, it might be more of a matter of perspective. Being paranoid can actually help you identify gaps, it's just easier to assume everyone is a threat. But, some-times being prepared is much easier to maintain than having to be paranoid and unsure that your mitigation rules and procedures will be able to stop an attack in time, or perhaps even before it can realize.

Why does this happen?

Why do we fall into a state of paranoia? Is it really paranoia when we evaluate the state of things in the world we face today? I sort of want to say that the fact we need to barricade ourselves in our own homes should probably tell us that we might be way past the point of paranoia. Of course it would be unhealthy to constantly be in that state. But, how do you move away from paranoia into a state of preparedness? Will you ever really be prepared for everything? Sure, being properly prepared can help reduce strain and stress, and direct more attention to where it is more critically needed. But then what is it you need to be prepared for? The truth is, you simply cannot always be prepared for everything, all the time. I certainly do not want to feel more stressed out on a family trip out to town than actually relaxing for a change. And if you ask any CPO, it gets tiring to be on a constant state of awareness. And although I do stress the importance of awareness, I also need to warn about the dangers of paranoia. I mean, is that six year old really planning to mug me? Or is the over dressed dude with the baseball cap and aggressive stance really just a friendly by-passer in the parking lot?

Will it make a difference?

It's never a bad idea to know what your go-to action should be with possible scenarios you might encounter. It's dangerous to assume that what we train for will be the only reality we will get to face. So, when you are certain of what is going on and what is not, you can overcome the state of paranoia and rather focus on things that require more of your attention and things you can have some form of control over. I do not want you to try and control everything. But make sure you have some form of control, like having a task covered by a team-mate or spouse or outsourcing it. Preparing a detailed risk-assessment will help identify where you need to focus on and what measures need to be trained and perfected more.

Think of it as a type of contact sport

If you want to score, you need to be on the attack. But, often you will need to defend your post as well. Proper, prior preparation will determine how quickly you neutralize the attacking team, regain control and get back on the attack. The reality is you will take some blows. But you can greatly control the outcome of those blows, with blocks and countermeasures.

This is where some of us tend to overdo it and look more like we are moving into a state of paranoia. We carry 3 sets of briefs and plan our routes in such order that we will get the opportunity to use them after we wet ourselves. And while we over plan for the most common things, we neglect to properly align ourselves to the actual threat (that was supposed to be identified with proper risk assessment) and make the one with a greater probability of realizing our main focus. Maybe I could avoid needing three pairs of briefs and identify the threat moving into position. Then I can act on it before it can realize.

Just like our contact sports, we practice different plays beforehand. And we try to stick to them rather than work things out whilst on the field. But if we only focus on our play, we potentially miss what the opposing team might be positioning us to do. So it makes sense that a lot of us tend to lean more to the side of paranoia. We need to have basic plays in our arsenal that are tested and perfected, both for defending and for attacking.

So it gets confusing, right?

It doesn't have to. The key is to identify common plays that you will need to succeed in. In boxing, for example, you might be able to use one block more effectively than another. So use that as your basis, as your go-to block. Something you can always rely on to keep you in the fight, no matter what the opponent throws at you. And perfect it. But never stop there, that specific block might be in-effective against another type of martial arts or weapon. So for that reason you need to know what type of opponent you are likely to be facing, and prepare for that. Think about the whole "never bring a knife to a gunfight" type of scenario. Whenever I get into a self-defense training type of talk with someone, I always coin what Bruce Lee taught the world: Focus on a handful of things you can master and execute with perfection, rather than try and learn every move. This eliminates the probability of your mind getting cluttered and possibly creating a delayed response, which we all know in our environment could prove fatal! Focus on, for example, five things, create the neural pathways, and hone them in. And when you need to act, your options are limited to just those five, thus reducing your reaction time. Think about the fight/flight/freeze response again.

Whenever I have no idea what to do with specific information. I pass it on to another teammate or outsource it completely. Like having someone to do some background check or research on a specific name or company etc. This might give you a better idea of what to look out for while on the task and what to pay more attention to. You do not want to be on a task and having to spend more attention on every little person and thing around you and not have much attention span left to focus on the actual threat determined by your preparation tactics (pre-determined threats). So while on the task, your mind will not need to wander all over the show and start questioning things that could have been mitigated before-hand.

If you want to know if you are over-prepared, ask a colleague to review some things for you. Doing this, helps you get more professional insight and, the colleague might identify some spaces you do lack in and help identify sectors you tend to overdo. Who knows, maybe that just might shed some weight from your tasking. Or perhaps it helps indicate something you might have missed initially?

When you operate in a team environment, everyone must be aligned. Why should each member plan their luggage when one or just a few more extra hands can manage and transport kits and or equipment? Or you might want to make sure you mention your concerns to the team, no matter how ridiculous it may sound. You never know how the risk that you're thinking of, is being mitigated by another member if you never ask.

Conclusion

Do what you are tasked to do and do it well! Only then can you improve on less-likely sectors that can be improved or perhaps cut out completely. Like having to carry a first-aid kit on your person, but you spend most of your day inside a vehicle or office space. So you can rather have a more sophisticated kit stashed at one of these locations or in the vehicle for example. I sincerely hope this was more informative than confusing, and if you feel that you still don't grasp it yet, comment below or drop me an email and I'll get back to you with more insight.

Interested to learn more? See the following links:

Principal profiling

Physical security threat assessment

Fight/Flight/Freeze

Awareness training

Action plan

Home defense

Conclusion

Conclusion

Thank you for spending valuable time to work through this guide. I hope it will benefit you as much as it does others. This guide only covers the very basics of each subject and there is more to it than what is mentioned here. But it would be impossible to add everything on one guide or even in a complete book.

The biggest reason is that crime trends change constantly and by the time you have read through the 11 posts this guide consists of, new crime trends would have already been identified. With that said, I would like to invite you to check out more on my website at www.alphadefense.co.za for coverage of all things important to physical and personal security.

I sincerely encourage anyone to continue your training and improve your knowledge on all things related to personal security, whether it's through the internet, local coaches, or participation in any other form of training. It is never too late to start! Planning now, to mitigate threats and risks at a later stage, might just be the key to your safety and security.

It is all too often that I witness the horrific turn out of events just because people refuse to actively implement what they learn, especially those who talk about it but never act on it. If you just talk about dieting and never really follow a proper diet and get active, then you never really get any results. Security is no different, don’t just read about what anyone says, try it, and who knows, maybe you just start to like it!

Feel free to engage with me on your concerns and suggestions. I also suggest you visit these posts often, and that you implement as much of the advice as possible, and add your knowledge of course. Drop me an email if you like.

Look out for any updates on the website.

Until then, keep safe and keep on learning.

Home defense

Approaching your home

Part 1

So if we think about this for a minute, it makes sense to start from where we get close to home and not inside the home itself. Approaching your home after being away for a while is probably the most crucial part of the defense, as a lot of hijackings and attacks happen in this space.

Have you seen the influx of videos where people are being attacked just as they pull up in front of their homes lately? Sadly it’s an increasing strategy used by criminals, you have no cover, no one to assist, and most probably never even expect it to happen. Yet it does happen. Often it is a well planned and timed attack where criminals will follow you for a few days to test your awareness, see what times you leave and who is in which vehicle.

Here's how you can work on this:

As you approach your home, whether you are walking, cycling, or driving, you need to constantly scan your surroundings to identify anything out of place. Switch of the music and air-conditioning system, reduce your speed, open a window slightly, and concentrate on your surroundings.

These are the most common things to look out for:

Approaching per vehicle:

  1. Any vehicle parked somewhere with number plates not familiar to your area.
  2. Any vehicle behind you when there is not much traffic, or if you suspect you are being followed.
  3. Any people gathering or walking down the street in an abnormal posture, speed, or interest in your presence.
  4. Any markings or indicators that are not supposed to be there. (Empty bottles, card boxes, rocks or small piles, etc.)
  5. Your animals act suspicious or do not greet you at the gate. (Animals always know when something is up)
  6. Your automated gate does not work, or you can visibly see something that restricts the gate from opening. (Cable tie, rope or wire, etc.)
  7. Your security guard is not present.
  8. Your complex gate is open.
  9. No electricity, when buildings or homes next to you or your complex has electricity.
  10. Drunken residents en route to your apartment.
  11. One of your vehicles or trailers is missing.

Once any of these are noticed I suggest the following reaction:

  1. Make sure the occupants in the vehicle know that you have seen them and that you are completely aware that they are not supposed to be there. Try to note the color, make, model, the number of occupants, and license plate number (Voice recorder works great). Next, you want to notify someone of this unfamiliar behavior before you try to approach your front gate (see action plan). Do not approach your driveway, drive around the block till you feel comfortable enough to approach the driveway.
  2. Drive around the block, making a complete circle. If the vehicle is still behind you, immediately phone police services. Another possibility is that more than 1 vehicle might be following you, if you do make a trip around the block and a new vehicle is behind you, repeat the process around a different block. Keep driving for as long as the confirmed vehicle is following you, drive to a police station or nearest place of help. Notify the police that you will be driving straight to them, and also what route you will be using.
  3. If possible, try to secretly record them. Do not make it obvious that they are being recorded, as this may give them a reason to approach you. Have your vehicle ready to go as quickly as possible if need be.
  4. When you are certain there is no threat you can remove all the obvious markings, but only after you have parked your vehicle securely. Make sure to dispose of all rubbish and lose objects in front of your yard.
  5. This can be for more than one reason. Firstly do not drive into your driveway. Secure your vehicle and enter on foot. Only once you can confirm there is no threat can you pull your vehicle into the driveway. If there is any threat, do not approach. Phone emergency services and activate your action plan. When your dog is barking abnormally at the gate, drive past and confirm that there is no threat outside the gate.
  6. When this happens you can be certain of an attempt of hijacking or attack.  Immediately leave your driveway and activate your action plan. Phone police service and have them confirm that it’s safe to approach.
  7. Proceed with caution and have your phone ready to call for help when needed. Notify your emergency group/contacts of the situation before proceeding.
  8. Unless you see obvious signs of intrusion, proceed with caution. Notify your emergency contacts of the situation before proceeding. When there are obvious signs of intrusion, phone police services, and your emergency contacts. Wait for police services to clear the premises.
  9. Notify your emergency contacts. Always have a flashlight handy and use it to scan systematically through the premises before approaching your home. Listen to any noise and movement. Start by making sure your main supply box is locked and not tampered with. Once you are satisfied there is no threat outside, move into your home. Locate the route of the problem.
  10. This is not necessarily a threat but can easily escalate into one. Try to avoid them as much as possible. Notify your emergency contacts. Do not appear aggressive and move away as quickly as possible.
  11. Notify your emergency contacts! Approach with caution. If there is still an intruder present. Activate your action plan.

Tips:

  • When stopping in front of your gate, you want to leave enough space if possible to easily reverse and drive away, or turn around. If possible, practice reversing from your gate with speed.
  • During night time, switch of your headlights in front of the gate, this enables you to look beyond and over your vehicle and helps your eyes adapt to the shadows easier.
  • If you have to open your gate manually, do not switch off your vehicle, leave the keys inside, and close the door if possible. Often criminals just want the vehicle and will then leave you alone. But do not create temptation by leaving the door open.
  • If you have occupants in the car like small children, women, or elderly, you have to switch off the vehicle and take the keys with you when opening the gate manually (if no one else can). This will be your negotiation tool to get everyone safely out of the vehicle. Do not be cocky or brave. Control your emotions. Ask for your family members to exit the car before handing over the keys. Make sure to show them you have the keys.
  • If you do not open the gate, but someone else does, have everyone exit the vehicle together and watch every corner. This ensures your family is separated from the vehicle and have a greater chance of escape. They have to exit as quickly as possible.
  • Never sit and wait inside your vehicle. Keep the vehicle idle and stand outside and wait, if possible. Constantly scan your surroundings.
  • Make sure your rear-view mirror and side mirrors are properly aligned to be able to view as much space as possible.

How strong is your approach with a vehicle?

Home defense

Home defense – Introduction

Home defense (Introduction)

Congratulations on taking the next step in improving your safety and security at home!

In a fast-paced world where the average man has access to just about any knowledge he requires, we can expect that things like house-breaking, murder and theft would decrease and that the average living standards would increase, with fewer expenses on things like alarm systems, expensive reaction services, and upgraded burglar bars. Yet it would prove to be quite the opposite. With statistics showing increases in crime and the markets flooded with expensive defensive equipment and apparatus, we need to start asking what are we doing wrong, and what we as individuals can do to improve our security and safety.

This guide, with normal people in mind, is designed to assist every person in identifying potential risks and weaknesses in your safety at home, and also possible solutions and information on minimizing those risks and weaknesses. It is, however, important to keep in mind that not everything mentioned is necessarily the best solution for you or the next person to read this guide. But I do believe it would be of great help in starting your journey to a more safe and secure home.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much time you spend at home? In a more relaxed state than almost any other place, you will find yourself in during the day? Do you feel safe at home? Do you spend as much time practicing safety and security at home as you spend on self-defense or other forms of safety and security? Sadly very few people can answer yes these questions. That needs to be changed.

The examples, strategies, and solutions I mention in this guide have been researched and tested attentively to ensure the most effective solutions to previous crimes. All the information is based on previous crimes and possible problems I encountered while gathering, testing, and implementing these strategies.

Here is a full list of subjects I will cover over a series of 11 posts:

  1. Approaching your home (part 1 and part 2)
  2. Approaching the door
  3. Saferoom
  4. Action plan
  5. Reaction unit
  6. Barrier 1
  7. Early warning system
  8. Barrier 2
  9. Secondary warning system
  10. Conclusion

At the end of each subject, ask yourself how many of the points mentioned in each post applies to you and how many of them can you still implement. Feel free to come back to these posts time and again and sharpen up on your skills or perhaps read up on any updates. Use this as a guideline to improve and upgrade your equipment or tactics. Be sure to stay open-minded and feel free to highlight interesting parts or add in your notes as you proceed. Don’t forget to drop a comment.

Until then, happy reading and keep safe!