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Profiling and Situational Awareness

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Profiling and Situational Awareness


Paul Foreman, for Legally Concealed

    Did you ever know something was going to happen, before it happened? Was it some kind of weird ultra sixth sense in your mind predicting what was about to happen? Or, was it your mind recognizing various signs that alerted you to the incident minutes or even seconds before it occurred?   

    Our US Marines have an operation manual called, “Combat Profiling.” The combat Marines learn to spot signs of impending danger. For example: A squad of marines are walking into a village. The point man notices there are no children running about. He does not see the usual shopkeepers hawking their wares. Just yesterday, the villagers were smiling and waving. Is something to happen? There is a fantastic book, I just finished reading titled, “Left of Bang” co-authored by Patrick Van Horn and Jason A. Riley. It describes in detail the “Combat Profiling” method of recognizing a threat, enemy combatant, or ambush, before it happens. The term is described like a timeline of events before, during, and after a life threatening situation. On the far left of this timeline, everything is normal and safe. In the middle of the time line is the BANG. That’s where the enemy attacks, the hidden bomb explodes, or the mugger strikes. On  the the right side of the line is the aftermath, the resulting injury or deaths from the danger. Do I really need to ask, “Where do you want to be on that timeline? I want to be, “Left of Bang.”

In Law Enforcement we used “profiling” back in the 70’s and 80’s, but political correctness has now taken that tool away from us. Please do not take the following statement as racially motivated. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, the State Highway Patrol in Florida and other Law Enforcement Agencies had special Drug Interdiction Task Forces. Maybe they still do? But, back then, they would use certain “clues” when watching vehicles traveling north on I-95. If the vehicle was fairly new, tricked out with some nice wheels and accessories, driven by men with a certain ethnic look, and appeared to be loaded down with extra weight, then it was probably moving drugs north out of the Miami area. After spotting and “profiling” such a vehicle, it didn’t take long for the officers to observe some kind of traffic violation, no matter how insignificant. This type of “profiling” netted tons of illegal drugs and hundreds of arrests.

The human brain contains an area called the “Limbic System.” Those of us who want to survive have learned to listen to the part of our brain that is telling us, “Something is not right.”

Maybe it is the hair on the back of your neck, maybe it is the chill or shudder you feel when walking in a bad neighborhood. But, today’s political correctness tells us we are NOT supposed to “pre-judge” others just because they live in a “bad” neighborhood. Are today’s men and women losing the extra sensory part of our Limbic System that tells us when to fight or run? Our ancestors survived by knowing when to react to certain stimulus coming from our Limbic System. Are we losing it because we don’t use it?

When I was a Deputy Sheriff in Southwest Florida, I began to realize that I could actually smell “fear” in a suspect I was confronting. Other signs of guilt or wrongdoing were things like nervousness, sweating, shaking, dilated eyes and fidgeting hands. Let’s take this out of the Law Enforcement/Military world and see how all this works for typical John Q. Citizen. John is driving down the street. Suddenly a child runs in front of his car, chasing a ball, BANG! He hits the child who is seriously injured. Another citizen, let’s call him Bill, is driving down a similar street. Bill notices a group of children playing in a front yard. Bill slows down cautiously not knowing what the children might do. Sure enough, a ball comes bouncing out into the street with a boy running right behind. Bill has no trouble stopping, left of BANG.

Now let’s take all this and apply it to surviving an armed home invasion. The following is very similar to an incident many years ago, in which I was the arresting officer. The details can vary widely, but this type of situation could happen anywhere. You’re sitting on the front porch, its getting dark so you decide to go inside. Just as you are about to close the door, you see a car driving slowly down the street. Do you go on inside and just forget about what you just saw? Maybe it’s nothing. Just before you close the door, you take another look. The car is occupied by three males. What’s wrong with that? You watch as they drive on down to the end of the street and park in front of a vacant lot, right across the street from a close friend of yours. They turn their lights off. What you do next will determine if you are just a suspicious nosey neighbor, or if  you are right in assuming the trio is up to no good. You grab your phone and dial Joe’s number. “Joe, Bill here, you see that car that just parked across from you?” “Joe sounds confused, “Thanks for asking Bill, and how are you?” “Joe, I am serious, those guys look like they are up to no good. They are parked right across from you. Arm yourself now and do NOT open the door. Joe, make sure all your doors are locked.” Joe begins to realize his good friend is serious when he says, “Joe, you get ready to defend yourself, I am calling the cops for you. Joe, are you listening?”

You knows that Joe is in his 70s and lives alone. You helped Joe plan for such an event even though Joe thought you were being too dramatic. You grab your Glock with one hand, while hitting 911 with your thumbs on the smart phone. You give the 911 operator the details as you gets into your truck and start down the street with the lights on high beam. Two of the suspicious men are just now crossing the street towards Joe’s house, when they are caught in the bright high beams of your truck. For a moment they look like two buck deer staring into a hunter’s jack light. “It’s a dark brown older model Ford four door, it’s an out of state tag, partially obscured, last three numbers are 046.” You continue to give the descriptions to the Sheriff’s dispatcher. “Two of the men are white guys, I can’t see the driver. Both are wearing blue jeans and dark hoodies. You pull into Joe’s driveway as the two thugs dash back to there waiting getaway car. “The bad guys make a quick U-turn and head back down Devon Rd toward the highway. You give this information to to the dispatcher and repeat the description of the suspicious car, so she can relay it to responding deputies.

It’s a happy ending when the cops catch up to the suspects. Nothing to arrest them for? Not back in front of Joe’s house, but, all three have outstanding warrants for failure to appear on burglary charges in the neighboring state. Did you overreact? Should you have just minded your own business and gone inside? Was the warning you gave Joe a false alarm? Could the three men have been harmlessly on the wrong street looking for a friend’s home? Any and all these possibilities could have been the case. Either way, all the good guys stayed “Left of Bang.”

We all need to be aware of our surroundings and what is going on in our neighborhoods. Just as I am writing this, three teens in a red Jeep, just turned around in my driveway. I live on a dead end street.

We all need to learn Tactical Home Defense and study up on Home Defense Tips. Keeping up with our Pistol Training and Shooting Drills is even more important than ever in today’s dangerous environment.  Always practice Gun Safety as we all celebrate our 2nd Amendment rights to defend ourselves against those who seek to harm us.


Paul Foreman is a retired Deputy Sheriff from Lee County Florida. As a Deputy Sheriff, he served as a Field Training Officer in the Patrol Division. Later, before retiring, Paul was assigned to the Juvenile Division, where he worked as a Truant Officer. Available on Kindle, Paul has authored a novel, “Blood Stains in Paradise.” Now living in northern Alabama, with his wife, JoAnn, Paul teaches firearms self-defense classes. Paul is an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, AHA Certified Instructor in First Aid, CPR & AED. As well as writing for Legally Concealed, Paul also writes Firearms and Gun Safety articles for a local bi-weekly paper, “Athens Now.” For firearms training, Paul can be reached through E-Mail at Captureman@PaulForeman.com or his web site, www.PaulForeman.com




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