Today I’m going to share with you Part 1 of Situational Awareness. You can find part 2 here.
Situational Awareness is knowing your surroundings, understanding what’s going on around you. That may seem like a very fundamental, common sense thing but there’s a lot to it. In fact, it’s very important.
It’s critically important for those of us in this line of work: investigators, security guards and lost prevention police officers.
I’ve been reluctant to start talking about this because like so much of what we do, there’s just so much to it that I can’t do it justice with a free online video of blog entry (or two).
Today I want to give you just the smallest, little sliver (really just an introduction) about situational awareness. However… I’m going to give you an exercise to do as well.
At the most basic level, I want you to understand when you go someplace, (doing an interview, doing process server, surveillance) be aware of your surroundings. Know what’s going on around you. Even things like time of day. On surveillance, this is huge.
In the mornings, if you get out someplace doing surveillance and you’re out there in the dark before the sun comes up, you don’t park blocking someone’s driveway. Common sense, right? Well, you might think, “I’ll be gone before the neighborhood wakes up. It won’t hurt anything for my to park here for 30 minutes or so”, but 30 minutes can turn into four hours pretty easily. And you’ll never find a good time to move your surveillance vehicle once you’re set up.
And even in the middle of the night, no one’s coming or going, consider that you may very well be there when the sun comes up and people start moving and going to work. This is being aware of your situation both in terms of location and time.
As you do surveillances in the morning, be aware – the sun’s going to come up, people are going to start waking up, kids are going to start going to school, school buses are going to start coming through.
In the evening, you have the same thing as people come home from work, as they go out and they walk their dogs. Be aware of your surroundings and what could possibly happen.
Be aware of – depending on the neighborhood you’re in – the guy who’s shaking a cup trying to panhandle beer money at the end of the corner. Where is he going to go once he gets his beer money? Where is the liquor store?
He’s probably going to go there and then find a stoop some place and sit and drink. Are you parked by his favorite stoop?
Be aware of these types of things so you don’t end up being right where people want to hang out. You don’t want people four or five feet from your surveillance van while you’re trying to be in there quiet and film something down the street.
Here’s my exercise for you.
It’s the most simple and elementary thing but it’s going to begin to wake you up to situational awareness. I hope you might even be doing this already but I want you to do it very intentionally now.
When you go into a place, I want you to find the exits as you enter.
In restaurants this is a very easy exercise to do as you go in, as you’re waiting to be seated or as you’re walking to where you’re going to sit. Find another way out, not just the front door where you came in. Find another way out of that restaurant.
Maybe even in convenience stores you can do this. The rear exit isn’t always clearly labeled, but take a look at what other doors there are and think about what’s behind them. Don’t run yourself into a corner and get trapped in the freezer if something bad happens.
The exercise here is being aware of your surroundings. If something were to happen, what’s another way I could get out of this place? This is going to serve you well in everyday life, but also on the job when you’re interviewing somebody in a place you don’t really know.
When you’re a process server you better be thinking about your exit routes! Sometimes people are not too happy to get served process.
So there’s your exercise. Use it. Begin to intentionally develop your situational awareness.
Check out part two on situational awareness right here, but before you do… be sure to get my free special report: If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it by entering your name and email below…