Sentinel Handbook

Tips for security, safety, and crime prevention volunteers

Patrol Tip: The Interview Stance

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“Look in the mirror and you will see the one person responsible for your safety. Even if you have a partner, or team, to watch your back, you are still responsible for your front.”

One of the most common methods for maintaining personal safety while on patrol is using the Interview Stance when dealing with the public. The Interview Stance is an alert, protected position that allows you to interact with those you are speaking to, yet still be able to launch a quick response to a possible  Threat.

The Interview Stance should be used any time you are interviewing a witness or a possible suspect. While the general public is usually friendly and not hostile, you still need to be on guard in case of unexpected actions on their part. Someone might take offense at something mis-spoken, they may be intoxicated, or they may be a guilty party pretending to be innocent to throw you off guard for a chance to attack you. You must remain relaxed, and adaptable to the situation.

To begin with, your stance should be natural while giving the appearance of confidence and control. Feet are shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent for good balance. Non-dominant [weak] leg forward, dominant [strong] leg back, torso turned [45 degree angle] so that you are not facing squarely toward the subject. This distributes your body weight over your hips so that you can move quickly in most any direction.

Keep your arms relaxed, and close to the body. Hands should be held above waist level to speed your reaction time, using the non-dominant hand to gesture if necessary. Keep hands relaxed and open, preferably without anything held in them to allow instant reaction. Never hook a thumb in your belt, or pocket! Do not rest hands on your duty belt or equipment as this can sometimes been seen as threatening.

Stand just out of arm’s reach of the subject. By maintaining this gap you increase your response options and give yourself time to react. It also allows you to be able to see the subject in one glance rather than having to look up and down. If you must look away from the subject, always keep them in your peripheral vision. If you have something in your hands, such as a notebook, raise it up to use it, do not look down. This is why I suggest keeping a small digital recorder for conducting interviews instead of taking notes.


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