Thursday, April 26, 2007

S.I.V.A. Cont.

So far we've dealt with Selection and Isolation when it comes to a criminal's modus operandi. The next step in the attack sequence is the "Interview" or "V" for Verbal.

This is again used in different ways by different criminals. Sexual predators for example will typically say something lewd and, judging by their potential victims reaction, decide to go to the next step. If the victim is shocked, blushes, looks down or gets flustered she's the ideal victim. If instead she reacts with eye contact, a confident voice and a put down then he's going to backpedal and find someone else. Typically they're looking for someone they can control and dominate, not someone who's going to put up a fight and displays confidence.

Criminals intent on violently attacking something will engage in innocuous dialogue designed to befuddle the victim or, alternatively, put them off their guard while they get into range. The old "Do you know how to get to...?" or "Excuse me mate, have you got change for a five?" will typically be used to mask their approach.

Con men will engage in a whole stream of patter designed to dupe their victims out of whatever it is the conman is after but, just like the two other criminal types, they've still gone through the steps of selecting their victim and isolating them.

Role playing is critical in dealing with all of the above. Female students of self protection need to practice so they're not shocked when the "interview" turns explicit. Potential mugging and robbery victims need to learn how to deal with the patter as the potential attacker moves in to the kill zone, and the elderly and the gullible need to familiarize themselves with the types of scams that are out there so they recognize them when they hear them.

PS: My friends wife works for one of the mobile phone companies. Tonight she told us a client came in to cancel his phone as he'd just been robbed in a popular up scale shopping center. Guess what he told her? Yep, you guessed it, "He came out of nowhere." Damn I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard that line. (for those who don't know what I'm talking about find one of my early blogs on Merlin the Magician.)

S.I.V.A. Continued

The next letter in the acronym is "I" which stands for Isolation.

Criminals have to get you away from witnesses so, just as the lioness on the hunt causes the herd to run so the weak, old and cripples are left behind, the human predator waits for his victim to leave the safety of the herd.

His victim does this for the most part entirely voluntarily by leaving with his/her shopping bags and heading for the car whilst on a shopping trip.

The other option for the criminal, especially with sexual predators, is removing the victim from crime scene #1 to crime scene #2 for the same purpose.

Two things therefore to remember are, number one, exercise some heightened awareness anytime you leave the safety of numbers and head off on your own. Maybe it's leaving your group of friends after a night out and going off to the parking deck, or maybe it's leaving the bar at night and walking home, either way be a little extra vigilant because you've now firmly set yourself in the sights of any potential attacker.

The second thing, and this is critical, never ever go to the second crime scene. You may die at the first one if you refuse (debatable) but the 2nd one will be a slow death while being tortured and toyed with for hours and possibly even days.

As Paul Pfingst, a San Diego DA said "Murder is one thing, but torture, mayhem, and savagery - it takes more time for these crimes. Every torture case I have prosecuted involved a victim isolated and completely controlled." quote unquote.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


We've had a spate of people robbed while walking home from clubs and bars uptown recently, so, I thought I'd devote a couple of posts to how the bad guys select their victims.

The acronym we use is S.I.V.A. which I'll break down over the next four posts. This one will be devoted to S which stands for selection.

A study was done by Grayson and Stein a few decades ago in which they used prisoners who were human predators and showed them video footage of people walking. In prisons on both coasts the predators all picked the same victims within seven seconds of watching them walk. It didn't matter if they were male/female, big/small, tall/short, black/white, dressed well/badly or catholic or protestant.

The results found that gait was very important as the ideal victim tends to be tired, lacks confidence, walks too slow or too fast, shuffles and looks down instead of around.

One of the best ways to understand this is to adopt a predatory mindset and go out and pretend you're a crack addict looking for a victim to rob. Who would you pick? Why?

Who appears shy or vulnerable?
Who is intimidating?
Who is aware of their surroundings?
Who is distracted, alone or task fixated?
Who is reckless or having a great time?
Who else is watching?
Which people need other stimulus (alcohol, conflict, attention etc)

By looking at it from the enemy's viewpoint you'll better understand how to lower your own profile so you're unlikely to be one of the chosen ones.

Ok, next time we'll talk about the "I"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Still Not Getting It

Before I begin this post let me address a couple of issues that have been raised by people commenting on the blogs.

The first comment was in regard to police ineptitude and the author had heard the second shooting took an hour in which the police didn't respond until it was all over.

Alright, at first rub that sounds ridiculous. He killed 30 or so people during the second spree so to take an hour would have been one person shot every two minutes??? I heard the gunfire on the witnesses cell phone and it sounded way more rapid to me. Sure enough, I poked round on line and he began shooting at 09:15 am and finished at 09:20...that, if my math instructor didn't fail me, is a far more likely one victim every ten seconds. Given he walked from room to room that sounds much more likely. That gives the cops a five minute window in which to get from one side of the campus where they're investigating the first shooting to the other side, break down the chained doors and go inside. Doesn't sound like police ineptitude to me.

Second comment is still about the guns. more time. Can we all agree (gun control argument aside for just one moment) that the only way to effectively stop a gunman is with another gun? Please tell me none of you anti-gun folks would actually suggest another method? So, the best method, nay, the only method, with available guns, is to arm other people such as teachers, and they, like the off-duty cop in the mall, could have put an end to this crap early on.
(In fact one could argue it might never have happened if he'd known there were armed teachers...after all, he didn't go out and start shooting cops who were armed did he?)

Now the gun control argument. Can we also please all agree that the gun genie is out of the bottle. There is no effective way to remove all the guns that are out there. If there was an amnesty, the only people who'd give up their guns would be the law abiding honest ones. Does anyone with a modicum of intelligence deny this? That would mean, just as it has with the drug trade, that crooks would still have them, and, they'd be readily available to anyone with criminal intent.

What you're saying then is you're quite happy for the crooks to have them and quite happy for you not to have them? Which leaves you exactly where when the bad guys go on the rampage? Oh, that's right, hoping it doesn't happen to you and calling the cops, who, once again, will deal with the crime after the fact. See how many kids died at VT waiting for the cavalry to arrive.

Now, before anyone goes on again about our guns and our gun culture let me clarify a few things. I am by no means advocating everyone be able to purchase guns 2nd amendment or not. I think there should be an extensive training program, a written and practical exam and an extensive background check. In Sweden before you can go hunting you have to pass a 180 question test, and demonstrate a proficiency with the weapon (against clay pigeons) and show that you know how to safely handle the weapon including loading, unloading and climbing over fences etc. That's brilliant and you'll hear no complaints from me if we wanted to implement that over here. There absolutely should be responsibility that comes along with ownership.

Regarding our gun culture...yep, it can be a problem. There are other countries that have guns readily available that don't have the same problems we do...but, before you start criticizing us too loudly we, and our gun culture did bail the civilized rest of the world out of WWI - which you started, WWII - which you started - and the cold war. Besides which, to put it all in to perspective, a lot more kids are going to die on campuses around America this year from drugs, alcohol and vehicular accidents. Where are all the anti-drug, anti-alcohol and anti-car groups when you need 'em? Want to know the numbers? For alcohol related binge drinking, falls and vehicle accidents 1,400 students will die this year. So, where should we be focusing our outrage?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Histrionics From Those Who Do Not Know

There's been a slew of criticism levelled at the police handling of the Virginia Tech shooting. Why didn't they shut the campus down sooner? Why two hours before the first email went out etc.

As per usual the pontificating windbags who've never run a security gig in their lives are full of opinions on what went wrong etc.

Let's make this easy. Imagine for a minute in your home town a disgruntled husband/boyfriend shot his wife/girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself. You, the police officer, are called and, based on what you see think you have a domestic situation. Would you then shut down your city? Would you shut down the entire city just in case? Keep in mind nobody has ever before, in a situation like this, shot two people, then left to mail in their manifesto to the networks and then come back to finish the job.

Want to know what I think. I think that if the police chief had shut down the campus, and nothing had happened, the entire crew screaming out about his ineptitude would now be screaming "why did he have to shut down the entire campus? God, it was just a domestic...what a jackass?"

Yep, they're the whining bastards that will whine no matter what happens.

As for closing down the campus...let's think about that one for a minute shall we. Er...the gunman was on the campus. Kind of like making sure the doors and windows are all locked at home when the rapist is already inside the house. Besides, it's a huge campus not a classroom. How do you lock something down the size of a small town? Oh right, I forgot, the know it all windbags think you could shut down the roads in and out and order everyone to stay in their classrooms. Well, nobody drove into the shooting, they were already in their classrooms...and, as for being locked in, the killer had taken care of that by chaining the doors shut in that particular building so, would one of the whining know nothings please explain exactly how that would have helped?

Alright, sorry if I've offended anyone with the tone of my post but I just get sick and tired of pontificating windbags who surface every time there's a disaster, calamity, or tragedy that haven't ever actually had any experience in what it is they're jabbering about (just how many of the liberal Hollywood actors have ever run a country or led an Army to war?) and begin to wax lyrical on what should be done.

So, just for the record, the cops up there did everything they absolutely could have done with the information they had. If anyone tells you differently ask them how long they've been a police chief.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Dreaded "Gun Control" Issue

Obviously both sides have divided into their respective camps to use the shooting tragedy as ammunition (no pun intended) to sling at the other side.

I'm about the only neutral person I know when it comes to this debate because I've lived in countries that have draconian gun laws, and I live here. I've been trained in martial arts and I'm big -- so I'd love a world without guns because I could rule it (just joking) -- but I've also been a member of Special Forces and well trained in weapons.

Here's the bottom line...gun control was already in place at Virginia Tech i.e. nobody is allowed to take guns on the campus except for sworn law enforcement officers. Gun control didn't work very well then did it? All it meant, as it always does, is that law abiding citizens were left defenseless while the lunatic (strange that he didn't abide by the law eh?) went on his rampage.

This begs the question. Could someone carrying on campus have put an end to his rampage before his toll got into double digits? Well the problem has been asked and answered in May of last year in an Oklahoma City mall. A kid pulled a gun and was about to go on a killing spree when an off-duty sheriff's deputy heard the first shot and was able to shoot the shooter first. Nobody knows how many victims there may have been if he had not been present with a weapon.

It's black and white folks...the only way to stop that killer yesterday was to shoot him first.

How about the argument that if we had gun control across the country he wouldn't have been able to get a firearm? Great idea in theory but it hasn't worked very well as far as illegal drugs are concerned has it. In other words, they banned drugs here a long time ago. In fact we declared war on them and that war costs billions. Anybody going to tell me you can't buy any illegal drug of your choice within five miles of your home? Banning guns would achieve exactly the same result. If you're still having trouble wrapping your head round that look at England which has some of the most draconian gun laws on the planet. Want to bet me you can't get guns in England if you're so inclined?

That leaves us right back where we started i.e. law abiding citizens are disarmed while the bad guys walk round with impunity.

How about the police argument? I'll answer that one directly. Virginia Tech has it's own police department. 31 people still died there yesterday and the bad guy didn't die at their hands, he died at his. The Police, like it or not, are only trained to deal with crime AFTER the fact. That may be great for nabbing the bad guys (or not, as the case may be) but it does very little for the victims.

Yes, arming teachers would be controversial and yes, there's an element of risk. If you made it public knowledge that you were doing so the teacher might be the very first victim (keep in mind the German teacher was the very first person to be shot in the German class at Virginia Tech despite not being armed) but, if you didn't tell anyone!!!

If you take guns out of the equation all you're left with is the old "Fight, Flight or Freeze" which would amount to attack the guy unarmed, run and hope he doesn't shoot you in the back or "freeze" which in this case would mean going to ground and hiding -- and hope he doesn't find you and shoot you in your hiding spot.

I don't know about you people but 31 victims who tried all of the above i.e. fighting, flighting or hiding are all dead which doesn't really instill much faith in those methods if that's your answer to the gun/no gun question.

Let me finish by posing this question. If you are a believer in gun control what is your solution to yesterday's problem exactly? Don't just blather on about why guns are bad, and don't accuse me of being some sort of psycho, just come up with a viable option and I'm on board.

I just don't see one when I look at it other than the obvious, arm the faculty.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

By now most people have heard about the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech yesterday. The shooter has been identified as a South Korean loner and there's a lot of talk by the clueless about poor police response, gun control and a slew of other irrelevant gibberish.

I'll cover some of those issues in upcoming posts but the most important lesson to be learned from this is that you are not safe in your home, at school or where you work. While you may be level headed and sane the guy two cubicles over, or sally from accounts boyfriend, might be complete nutters hell bent on wreaking havoc by killing a bunch of people before taking themselves out.

The bottom line is you have a plan in place in the event someone enters your place of work, worship or study and begins to open fire? If not, why not? I bet if you could talk to anyone of yesterday's thirty one victims they'd be all about implementing plans if they could do it over.

What about the company you work for? Do they have a plan in place? Find out, and, if they don't, suggest they get an expert in to formulate one. If they balk at the expense remind them that the average payout to families after a workplace massacre is around the four million dollar mark. So, should Larry the lounge lizard from marketing lose his job and come back to work and kill his boss and four fellow employees the company will be looking at a 20 million dollar bill.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In the same vein

If we're going to bring up kubotans we may as well discuss the other ubiquitous magic wand of self defense and that is the tear gas/OC spray on a key chain.

Here's the problem as I see it. With any weapons system you have to practice accessing and using it under stress, unless you end up in the highly unlikely situation of being forewarned that an attack is immanent.

Why is that unlikely? Because career criminals don't like to forewarn their fact they like to remove as many advantages the victim may have and stack the deck well and truly in their favour and pretty much ambush the victim. This is why so many police reports begin with "He came out of nowhere."

So, can you, while you're reeling from the shock of being hit in the head, find your OC, flip the cap off, and spray it in the right direction? I'd be willing to put money on the fact you can't and I'd also be willing to put money on the fact that the majority of women carrying them round have never even test fired the thing one time.

Here's some other problems with the product. I don't want to use anything that I have to lick my finger first and hold it up to determine which way the wind is blowing. In Marseille as a military policeman I saw a guy on the other side of the Canibierre spray his and the wind took it down the street where it hit a multitude of people who had nothing to do with the initial assault.

Spray it in a car at a bad guy trying to get in and it will blow back in the car and get you. Also, ask any cop who uses it how many times he and his partners have been effected by the stuff as well. Every cop I've ever asked have told me they always end up covered in the stuff. The advantage to them is that it's happened so many times they're pretty much inured to it. How about you? Have you sprayed yourself a few times so you know what to expect?

Sadly it's another one of the "peace of mind, magic wands" that people buy and instantly feel better. Big mistake.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Killer Granny & the snake oil man

I saw another one today. She must have been seventy if she was a day and she had the ubiquitous kubotan key ring defender as her key chain. (Seen on the right)

Several times I've asked them if they actually know how to use their "magic defense wand" and have yet to run into one who's had any training.

One told me she thought you should hold it and flail them with your keys.

A local defense instructor actually has the gall to sell the version with the spikes on it to Realtors at his self defense for Realtors classes.

Just what that's going to do to a determined crack addict - apart from tick him off - I have no idea. Sadly, they think all they have to do is listen to the expert for an hour, buy the "magic wand" and they're good to go.

Banned On Planes

Even the TSA has been caught up in the hoopla since cops were shown these things years ago at a seminar somewhere. I can just imagine a hijacker taking over a plane with the equivalent of a carpenter's pencil..."Right, fly this plane to Cuba or I'm going to put you in a really painful wrist lock."

But no, that will never happen because they've banned them on planes. You can carry a four foot piece of hickory dowel though...I know because my brother did exactly that flying out of Charlotte a few years ago. He'd come over for some weapons training and I gave him a kubotan to take back home.

We arrived at the security checkpoint, me with a tactical folder (concealed in special way to pass through security) and my brother with his new found kubotan and a four foot hickory quarter staff (known as a Jo for the martial artists reading). The little old lady conducting the security check looked at the kubotan like it was the devil's own invention. "You can't take that with you dear. You'll have to go back to ticketing and give it to them and they'll pass it on to the pilot who'll keep it safe in the cockpit till you arrive at the other end."

We were both stunned! He couldn't take something the size and weight of a carpenter's pencil on board but the Jo - something Robin Hood would have been proud to fight Little John with - was ok. Mind boggling stuff.

So, Do They Work At All?

Well there's a version with OC in it that's not bad, providing you have the presence of mind while being assaulted to disengage the safety clip, orient it in the right direction and find the button at the right end...otherwise, as a key chain they're great. Also, they're not bad for cops wanting to extract drunken red necks who won't let go of the steering wheel out the car window...right Mike?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Charlotte Self Defense on television

My apologies to my international readers but this post probably won't be of much help to you guys.

Fight Survival is currently being featured on our local cable access channel 21 here in Charlotte for a 13 week series entitled "How To Be Your Own Bodyguard." It runs on Tuesday nights at 10:30 pm for 30 minutes at a time.

We focus on a mix of self protection - the awareness and avoidance strategies used by professional close protection officers to avoid getting in trouble in the first place - and self defense - the hands on physical fighting techniques as taught in my Fight Survival classes.

Our first episode went to air a week ago and I've heard nothing but positive reviews. If you live in the local market and want to check it out please do so and let us have your feedback.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Code Word

Do you go out at all with your significant other or family members? Then you should have an innocuous code word. A lot of couples have these for parties so that one can let the other know when it's time to go without blurting out "honey, my feet are killing me, these people are bores, and my ass is eating my girdle."

Our recommendation is that you have one for emergency situations as well.

The purpose of the word is to alert them, discretely, that something is about to go down and they should leave you immediately and take any kids you have with them. They should go home, or head to the car, wait thirty minutes and then go and then sit tight till you call them.

You're the professional. It's far easier for you to sense when the proverbial brown stuff is about to hit the fan and blurting that out to them, in earshot of others, can cause panic amongst bystanders or alert the bad guys that you're on to them. By using the code phrase/word you impart the same knowledge without the heads up to people who don't need to know.

The best example I can give is not to use a predetermined phrase at all but rather a pre-determined word that you'd normally never use.

If you opt for an apparently innocent phrase like "honey, did you bring your cash?" for example you might actually want to know if your significant other did in fact bring their cash. While you're expecting a simple yes or no answer she/he is legging it out of the store with kids and parcels in tow.

Try this instead. If your normal term of endearment is "honey" for example use "babe" instead. That way "Babe, did you bring your cash?" isn't likely to be confusing or get mixed up with the legitimate enquiry.

What's Up?

A lot of people have alarms in their houses but there may be a hole in your defense that you're unaware of.

While an MP in the Legion at the headquarter regiment in Aubagne it fell to us to test and evaluate the security on the Generals' house. When I transferred into the police militaire I discovered nobody had been successful in infiltrating their security for quite some time.

I went by the house and noticed it had a tile roof so I climbed up the back in the butt crack of dawn, lifted some tiles and went through the attic. Guess what? Yep, nobody alarms their attic. It was easy to go through the attic trapdoor and voila, much to the chagrin of the in house valet/security guard I was inside.

So, if you have a security system in the house and the sort of roof that's readily accessible, it might be time to upgrade your system and have the company come put a motion detector up there as well.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

In Memory...

This particular post is dedicated to the memory of a fallen brother Officer Sean Clark of the Charlotte Police Department, his partner Jeff Shelton and all their brother officers and also to their families.

Last night Sean and Jeff were killed in the line of duty.

I don't have all the details as of yet. Off duty police were the first to relay the news to me at work that two officers had been shot during a domestic. As the night wore on I learned that one of them was Sean, one of my students a few years back who only quit training to focus on fulfilling his lifetime ambition of being a cop. Initial reports said only one had died and the other was touch and go. By the end of the night I found out, sadly, both had died.

Were they killed by stray rounds during a gun battle? Nope. They were ambushed. They didn't even have their weapons out when they were shot from behind at close range by some gutless skidmark.

To aggravate his death Sean's wife is six months pregnant and he has a 3 and a half year old son Braydon who will now have to grow up sans dad. Officer Shelton's wife will now have to live with his death.

Sean was one of the world's genuine nice guys. He didn't do things because you asked him, he did them anyway. I remember first meeting him when I'd hang out with some police officer students doing off duty work and he'd bring water over to us. No one asked for the water...that was just the way Sean was. When you did ask for something...boom, Sean was there, no questions asked. When I moved from the coast to Charlotte a few years back some of my mates at the coast couldn't find the time to help me load the truck. Sean did, only he drove the 300 miles from Charlotte to do so.

My thoughts go out to his family, his friends and his brother officers. I hope yours will as well.

RIP Brother