On April 16th, CP Journal President Patrick Van Horne sat down with Matt Sampson from News12 Westchester to talk about how behavioral analysis supports “See Something, Say Something” following the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.
Matt: You’re watching continuing coverage of the Boston Terror attack and on News 12, in this 2 o’clock hour. I’m Matt Sampson. Now runners across the country are lasing up in a show of support for their fellow athletes after the two bombings at the Boston Marathon. We see Atlanta area runners right there, taking part in a mile run of silence this morning showing their support. Also, dozens ran to honor the marathon bombing victims say they will not be sidelined by the tragedy. At least 3 people are dead and approaching 200 on the injured list. The mile of silence was organized by the Big Peach Running Company. And now as we mention everyone is on heightened alert following the Boston terror bombings on the marathon, joining me right now is a Tarrytown based security and behavioral analyst, he’s an expert, Patrick Van Horne. We welcome him. We want to ask you first off Patrick, we’re talking about this and how do you compare an event like this to something that gripped us at 9/11?
Patrick: Well, the goal of any terrorist attack is to instill fear in the public and this attack is no different than September 11th. It certainly has the possibility of causing the public to be uneasy about being in public places.
Matt: Do they want to just instill insecurity in Americans so we don’t go about our normal lives? Is that what the goal is in something like this?
Patrick: Absolutely, the more uncertainty, the more fear, that people have about just going about their daily lives certainly changes the way we see the world.
Matt: Well let’s talk a little bit about the tightened security at airports and mass transit. How do you tighten security?
Patrick: I’d expect to see a lot of randomness. The security provider is looking to change up the way they’re doing the security just to keep potential threats guessing as to what they should expect when they go through a security checkpoint.
Matt: Now, of course you want to have a police presence so you want to have people in uniform but is there also an element of undercover in all of this as well?
Patrick: Absolutely, I’m sure that police officers are trying to get the best intelligence that they can and sometimes it requires an overt and very clear presence and sometimes it requires people to get the information off the ground.
Matt: And you say randomness is the key?
Patrick: If a criminal can predict what they should expect going through a security checkpoint, it makes it easier for them to prepare for that, so by mixing it up, security can take the upper-hand against those criminals.
Matt: Now we think of very high profile events like the Boston Marathon or areas like the Statue of Liberty or something like that but in our area here in the Hudson Valley, we have several malls, Woodbury Commons, the Palisades mall, the Westchester, places where a lot of people do congregate. For example if you’re in West Nyack today and you’re in the Palisades mall, first should you be afraid to go out?
Patrick: No, you should definitely be more alert though and as the message has been getting out there that if you see something, say something. But it gets beyond just physical objects. It gets beyond just luggage or boxes that are left behind. People should also be looking at people that are around them and determining if they should be a little bit more alert to what’s going on.
Matt: Okay, now you have a background in the military and that’s your thing, spotting not only the suspicious package but the suspicious person. What are some of the things that you would teach people to look for?
Patrick: One of the big ones that we teach is situational awareness. When a person is aware of their surroundings they immediately stand out from the baseline, from what we expect to see. So when we see people who maybe are looking over their shoulders, their face is not buried in the cell phone so they are paying attention to those around them. That person immediately attracts some more attention.
Matt: Now tell me, because like you said, we were talking earlier, this was part of your job when you were in the Marines to teach other Marines infantry people. It’s not just, you got a bomb squad taking care of the physical part of that, but it’s that other behavioral instinct that may come surrounding that area. What did you teach people in that case?
Patrick: In 2007, the Marine Corps created the Combat Hunter program, and it was designed to give Marines the ability to look at a crowded marketplace and pick out the insurgent, that threat, who didn’t wear a uniform, who didn’t carry his weapon openly, and pick him out of the crowd, based off of the way he was acting.
Matt: Like, give me an idea, some of, the body language that might have stood out.
Patrick: One example would be excessive discomfort. If a person who’s very nervous or anxious or jittery, the way the body prepares itself for a stressful situation will manifest itself on the body and when we see people very anxious, that person stands out.
Matt: ` Does that mean they just look like a drug addict waiting to get a fix? Is it somebody just jittery or?
Patrick: Absolutely. And the behavior is very similar to a person nervous coming into a new studio for an interview let’s say.
Matt: Well, we hope it isn’t that bad for you. Also besides what people are doing that are no good, you’re going to be back with us. We’re going to talk more about this but we want to thank Patrick Van Horne for coming in. He’s a man who knows about this. He worked for the military overseas and basically picking out people that are no good. So we want to thank him for coming forward for us and giving this in depth coverage but we will continue this a little bit more in our next half hour so stay with us here in News 12 and News12.com for continuing coverage of the Boston Terror attacks. We do want to check in with Joe Layo before we step out of here.