Reposted with permission from www.carlchinn.com
In the late 80’s, times were tough for us financially. We struggled to pay bills and keep our five children healthy, fed and clothed. I was making a meager living in the residential construction trade – barely enough to stay above water.
My truck needed a new motor, but the funds were just not there. I pulled into a Walmart on my way to a construction site to get antifreeze for the old truck. I was comparing prices on the antifreeze and saw a young man who appeared to be watching me (you old cops know where this is going). As I made my way back to the front of the store, I noticed that same guy a couple more times.
When I got to my truck, all my tools were gone. I knew then my obvious construction truck, laden with ladders and tools, was a mark when I pulled into the parking lot. A spotter had been sent in to keep tabs on my location as his friends cleaned me out. Our hard times had just taken a turn for the worse.
Another and far worse scenario got my attention this year.
There were many awful stories that came out of the Salon Meritage shooting in Seal Beach, CA on 10/12/2011. David Caouette was pulling into a parking slot to go eat at Patty’s Place, as Scott Dekraai was walking away from the salon where he had just killed 7 innocent people. Witnesses said his gun was carried quite visibly as he calmly walked away.
Then they heard three more shots where Caouette had just parked his black Land Rover. He was the 8th victim of the senseless rampage. Mr. Caouette had no expectation of pulling in for dinner and being faced with a mass shooting. Most people don’t, and they are right most of the time.
But there are examples throughout history (modern and ancient) where observations were critical in prevention of serious calamity.
On the quiet afternoon of September 7th, 1876, a young man by the name of Henry Wheeler was home in Northfield Minnesota taking leave from his medical studies at Michigan University. Sitting under an awning in front of his father’s store across from the bank, he watched three strangers ride into town. He saw them stop at the bank and throw their reins over the hitching posts. But they did not tie the reins. Other similar observations resulted in him and others being ready when the first shots were fired by the bad guys in the bank. When the incident was over, the Jesse James / Cole Younger gang would never ride together again. Common townspeople foiled one of the most notorious gangs in U. S. history, because a college student noticed the reins weren’t tied.
Think About It…
Ø In law enforcement, medical and security circles dating at least to 2004, “DLR” has been the acronym for “Don’t Look Right”. As security professionals, significant emphasis should be our reminder to ourselves to be constantly watching for DLR’s.
Ø Our senses – especially our eyes and ears – are the most effective tool we have in our security resources. Use them wisely.
Ø The general public (like me before my tools were stolen) are simply not ever going to have any significant ability at situational awareness. There will always be a few like young Dr. Wheeler who tap into that awareness occasionally, but for the most part those we watch out for are like the sheep in Col Dave Grossman’s famous On Sheep Wolves and Sheepdogs narrative.
Ø Watching for DLR’s is counter-intelligence. The bad guys are looking for chinks in the armor, you’re watching for bad guys who are looking for chinks in the armor. But a DLR doesn’t have to be a person or act, it can be a building or environmental issue.