You Know More Than You Think You Do in Detecting and Responding to Suspicious Activity.
In a changing world, where terrorist and/or other highly disenfranchised people resorting to acts of violence have become the norm, the idea that we must employ situational awareness and quickly detect suspicious activity can be daunting to some.
During times of crisis, we are often told to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. But what does that entail?
- Trust Your Gut: People often say to listen to your gut, but what does that really mean? In a recent Kravology article, we highlighted what this translates to in more accessible means. In short, here’s what the article stated about your gut:Scientific evidence demonstrates that our instincts first manifest on a visceral level, telling us what we need to know well before our consciousness catches up. Indicators of this physical manifestation include: increased heart rate, perspiration, and a ‘stomach in knots’ feeling.That stomach in knots feeling is your “gut feeling” and your visceral reaction is telling you something isn’t right. People often ignore these feelings because they simply cannot articulate their concern. It’s difficult to go to the authorities over a gut feeling, but it’s not unreasonable to act on your own by removing yourself from the situation or further considering why you feel your gut reacting as it is.
- Context Counts: You’re not expected to be an expert in suspicious behavior, but you are an expert in what you know and do on a daily basis. It’s in these environments where your experience, good judgment, and common sense can payoff. For instance, you can likely detect suspicious objects, out of place packages, bags, and/or containers. You can spot strange vehicles, delivery drivers, and/or unusual behavior relative to the tasks being performed around you. You can also detect if others’ clothing is appropriate for the environment, weather, and venue. You know familiar faces and can recognize unfamiliar faces. Your common sense can tell you if the plumber should be spending time around the air intake system. You know if unfamiliar people are showing up in familiar places. You think it’s strange when people take a series of pictures of a portion of a building or structure. You know if a request for information is unusual. You know when a request for access to restricted areas is out of the ordinary. YOU actually know quite a bit about suspicious behavior.
- Social Avoidance: Suspicious behavior can also be recognized in the way a person acts. Often we chalk this up to weird behavior, a personal insult, or a one-off occurance. This can be a mistake. Suspicious behavior often includes: People acting uncomfortably, avoiding eye contact, departing quickly once detected or approached, standing in places they don’t belong, driving weighted-down and/or over-loaded vehicles, over-dressed for the weather, carrying items/tools that don’t match their task, and people who have strong odors coming off their clothes or vehicles.
- Act Accordingly: If you decide you’ve detected suspicious activity, immediately take note of the following:
a. The number of people detected,
b. The sex of the people detected,
c. The height, weight, hair color, skin complexion, build, and clothing,
d. What the person is doing,
e. Where the person(s) is located,
f. Where the person is headed (direction),
g. What type of vehicle (make, model, and color) the person is in, and
h. What may have made the person leave or move locations
In summary, you are an expert in suspicious behavior within the context of your life and work. When things seen unusual or out-of-place, take the time examine what is different, record your assessment, and contact the authorities if appropriate.