It’s better to be a little paranoid than dead

It’s better to be a little paranoid than dead


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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Nothing can spoil a good afternoon with the family, or a good domino game for that matter, like being suddenly pounced upon and being robbed.

I once had a co-worker who, after returning home from grocery shopping with his wife, was pounced upon by two armed men who robbed them both and shot him.

Luckily he survived. The men escaped in a car that was parked just outside their gate.

You don’t have to be Jason Bourne, 007 or Reneto Adams to be situationally aware.

Situational awareness is a skill, and arguably a state of mind that anyone can develop, and like any important skill, it must be practised.

At first, practising situational awareness can lead to a bit of sensory overload as you try to take it all in, making you feel on edge and paranoid, but with some practice you will become better at it.

Being situationally aware, first and foremost, is a choice, and with the ever-growing monster of crime and violence in our country, I think it would be in the best interest of every law-abiding citizen of Jamaica to choose to be more situationally aware as they go about their everyday business.

As my mother would say, "Trouble nuh set like rain."

One of the key steps in developing situational awareness is understanding what is "normal" for your environment — knowing what things should look like and recognising any deviations from this norm. These changes to the norm are learned from observation.

One must recognise disturbances or abnormalities and quickly determine if it represents a specific threat or opportunity.

Situational awareness requires knowledge of your environment and the general layout of the land.

It requires that you recognise socially acceptable behaviour and behaviour that would indicate a threat. It requires you to be able see well beyond what is presented to you at face value.

For example, you are coming home from a night of partying and "luckily" for you your gate is already open, the only problem is you locked your gate before leaving… this should raise an alarm in your head. Situations like that should not be taken for granted, you must learn to constantly monitor and assess.

Three key techniques that can be utilised to maintain situational awareness are:

• Monitor the "normal"

You know what should or should not be in your personal space. Pay keen attention to abnormalities, things that just don’t seem right. At first, this will take a bit of conscious effort. But as you practise this often enough, it will start to happen on a subconscious level.

• Fight the urge to ignore:

Fighting the natural urge to ignore and say everything is all right requires a bit of paranoia as you learn to filter normal behaviour and conditions in order to focus on abnormalities and potential threat. Everything is not all right until you prove it to be so.

• Avoid distractions in public spaces

While it may be okay to talk and text on the phone while at home or in the office, it is not okay, and even potentially dangerous, to do so while walking in highly populated areas.

When in public, you need to switch off as best as possible from any unnecessary distractions and focus on being safe as we navigate the concrete jungle.

Always remember that it’s better to be a little paranoid than dead.

A K Robinson is a certified physical security professional/executive close protection officer and co-founder of Tactical Solutions. e-mail:

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