Self-Defense and Church Security: Make Scanning Your Priority

The article, Priority of Scan – An Officer Survival Necessity by Calibre Press instructor Lt. Kelly DeVoll (ret.) is written for the readership of professional police officers. But it also has much bearing for individual self-defense and church security situational awareness. Here are the major points adapted for civilian practice:

•   In keeping with Col. Jeff Cooper’s observational “Color Code,” we must always avoid complacency (the color “white” in the Code) when in public; nothing should be considered mindless routine. Instead, cultivate a mindful routine. [The Color Code can also be described using adjectives: White = Complacent; Yellow = Observant; Orange = Hazard; Red = Action.]

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Chart: The Spectrum of Potential Threat Personas in Self-Defense and Church Security ]

•   When you’re interacting with a person, that person, potentially, is “one of the most dangerous creatures on earth.” You must visualize and assess any means of attack that person could use against you. To that end, develop this priority of scan sequence and use it continuously: hands, waist, face, head-to-toe.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, “Most Terrorists Are Terrifyingly Normal,” Says Former Intelligence Officer ]

•   Hands – “Hands kill.” Empty hands can be used as weapons just as much as hands holding weapons. Always scrutinize a potential threat’s hands; both of them. Move to a tactical advantage before demanding the removal of concealed hands from pockets or other concealment.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Church Security Book Review: Defending the Flock ]

•   Waist – Weapons are often concealed at the waistline. Look for bulges in clothing at the waist and pay close attention to furtive or explicit movements around that area.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, A Prayer for Church Security Team Members ]

•   Face – The face shows emotion and can often reveal intent. Look for changes in facial expression that reflect anger or other precursors of violent attack.

[ See links to Church Security Training Resources ]

•   Head-to-Toe – Maintain a clear line of sight of the entire body. Is the person standing with one foot slightly behind the other (potential fighting stance or positioning to deliver a kick)? Do they continually fidget (a sign of stress)? Are they ready to pounce?

[ Read SemperVerus articles on the topic of Church Security ]

•   Use priority of scan in conjunction with the tactical elements of time, distance, cover, and communication. Take the necessary TIME to analyze what you observe in your scanning of the threat. Maintain the necessary DISTANCE from the threat to successfully enact your self-defense options. Identify physical objects usable as COVER (dense enough to stop bullets) between you and the threat. And, to strip away any ambiguity whether a threat exists, clearly COMMUNICATE to the person to stop acting in a threatening manner. If the person doesn’t comply, you’ll know a threat exists. Also, when able, COMMUNICATE with your church security team members about the situation.

•   Become proficient at scanning and it will be an automatic reflex in your situational awareness toolbox. Let it be the “routine” that will keep you safe.

[ Read SemperVerus articles on the topic of Situational Awareness ]

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