A couple of weeks ago I posted a video (we have heard that this video is no longer available, but that the text below is still relevant) where I talked about the different conditions within Cooper’s Color Code and how that relates to informed awareness, but I recently found a video on Twitter that illustrates the need to be aware of your surroundings in ways that can’t be covered in a white board talk. Take a look at this news report from Seattle, WA where a man is robbing bus riders at gunpoint.
The initial response when you watch this news segment is that technology will be our downfall and that it is dangerous to be so consumed by your phone that you are completely unaware of your surroundings. That is the easy answer though and is a no brainer. But it is something that happens to all of us and doesn’t explain why it is so dangerous. Being in Condition White means that you have no awareness of your surroundings and that you have no advance warning about any potential danger because you are not looking for threats in the first place. Without that initial level of alertness displayed by those in Condition Yellow, you won’t have the opportunity to create a plan for how you are going to deal with the threat on your terms. You will be reacting to whatever the criminal is doing. He has the upper hand and you are 100% right of bang.
The real consequence of being in Condition White relates to another concept that we talk about in our classes, that close proximity negates skill. What close proximity negates skill means is that the closer an attacker is to you, there are fewer options available to you and less time to react. The passenger in this video fights off the attacker not because he wanted to or planned to, but because he had no other choice. He could not run, he could not pull his own gun if he had one, he could not try to distract the criminal to ambush him. There was nothing else for him to do except to maybe just sit there and possibly get shot. Because he was so far right of bang and didn’t realize that there was a threat present until a gun was literally in his face, the only reason he is alive is because he was lucky. He is lucky the gunman didn’t pull the trigger when he jumped up and he is lucky that the gun didn’t go off in the fight that followed. Even though he overpowered him while being right of bang, he lived because of luck, not skill.
In this video, behavioral analysis wouldn’t be necessary because the gun was in clear view from the minute the criminal boarded the bus. But the fact that this guy only lived because he overpowered the attacker is one reason why it is so important for our nation’s military, police forces, and security professionals to learn to read behavior. It is easy to fall back on the fact that you carry a weapon, wear a bulletproof vest or are an authority figure. It covers up the price for being unaware by reassuring you that you could overpower a criminal if you had to. There will be times when that is necessary, but that should not be the primary plan. The reason we talk about informed awareness in the Cooper’s Color Code video is because not every criminal is going to be as bad as the one in this news clip. If you rely on the fact that you can overpower someone and lower your guard because of it, you might not be as lucky as this passenger was.
Being in Condition Yellow and getting left of bang is about creating time. There are more options available to you when you recognize that someone or something is “off” from far away instead of when the gun is in your face. If the passenger was in Condition Yellow and saw the criminal get on the bus, he could have created a plan of attack, whether that was to run away or wait for him to get closer so he could attack back. Regardless of which plan is the right one, at least there would have been some plan before the fight started. So while the goal is to have informed awareness and to know what makes someone a threat other than visually seeing a gun, at a minimum, by recognizing when you have gone into Condition White can be the reminder to reassess your surroundings and ensure your own safety.
A reader brought this video to our attention and we are always looking for new videos that we can use to analyze human behavior and recognize threats. If you would like to send us a video that you think would be worth discussing, you can see what we are looking for and submit them here.