Sentinel Handbook

Tips for security, safety, and crime prevention volunteers

Posts Tagged ‘security guard tips

The Importance of Batteries On Patrol

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A recent incident at work made a simple problem into a huge headache. A set of cold AA batteries in a flashlight, as well as a cold cellphone battery, left one of my co-workers stranded in the dark and out of communications range. Both problems could have been avoided with a little knowledge and foresight. Cold batteries do not die in cold weather, rather the chemical reactions inside of them necessary for discharging power are inhibited.

One solution is to take the batteries out and warm them using body heat, or other low heat non-flame source. Never use a direct high temperature heat source, or flames, to warm batteries as this can damage the batteries and make them unsafe. Do not replace cold batteries with fresh (and equally cold) new batteries. If you need to keep your battery operated devices warm, you can slip one or two hand warmers into a pocket, or into a small insulated cooler/lunch pail.

If you have gear that needs to be kept warm, but isn’t regularly carried, or worn, keep the gear in an insulated Go-Bag, and leave the bag in your office or vehicle. Remember to take your Go-Bag home with you at the end of shift so your equipment isn’t left unused in freezing temperatures.

For convenience, try to get all of your equipment to use only AA batteries. This makes it easier for you rather than carrying two or three different sized sets of batteries. It also allows you to swap out batteries between pieces of equipment if needed. There are cellphone chargers that use AA batteries, allowing you to still use your phone should its battery stop working.


Written by Silver Sentinel

January 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Patrol Tip: Calling In to 9-1-1

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9-1-1 is the number most people think of when it comes time to call in an emergency, but it also tends to be the only number that comes to mind when they think to call in a non-emergency as well. 9-1-1 dispatchers are often flooded with non-emergency calls that tie up available lines, leaving real emergencies to go unanswered.

There are two types of calls you will make when making a report to the authorities, emergency 911, and non-emergency calls. Your place of employment, or organization, may already have policies in place about when to call, so be familiar with those policies.

You should only call 9-1-1 when:

  • When you have a Police, Fire or Medical emergency.
  • When there is danger to life, property, or both.
  • When you see suspicious activities that appear to involve criminal intent.
  • When you need an officer immediately dispatched to your location.

You should call the Non-Emergency number when:

  • When you are reporting a nuisance complaint – noise, parking, debris in roadway, illegal burning, non-working streetlights, etc.
  • When you are reporting a non-emergency crime – after the fact, no suspects in the area.
  • When you have questions about something suspicious occurring in your neighborhood, and you are not sure it is criminal activity.

Local Police, Fire, and EMS non-emergency numbers are located in the front of your local phone book or local government website.  Some locations have special Tip Lines for Underage Drinking, etc.

Tips when calling in a report:

  • Remain calm. If need be, run through your Tactical Breathing to reduce your anxiety before calling in.
  • Be patient while the Operator asks you questions. Operators are trained to ask specific questions that quickly determine what is wrong, and what type of assistance to send. Resist the urge to rush. Remember to breath.
  • Stay on the line until the Operator tells you to hang up.

The Operator will best determine how to handle your call. In some cases during a non-emergency situation, your information will be taken and you will get a call back.

Be Prepared To Answer:

  • Where – Give the exact physical address, street, number, etc. This is very important, especially when calling from a cell phone. If you are driving, be aware of the road or highway on which you are traveling. Look for landmarks or businesses that are very near to your location.
  • What – What happened, what are you reporting – Give a short description at first (I need to report a fire.. I need to report a break-in), the Operator will ask for more details as needed.
  • When – When did this happen? Is it still happening?

Stay On The Line If You Can

  • Stay on the line until the 9-1-1 Operator tells you they have all the information they need. In some instances, they will ask if you can stay on the phone with them until officers arrive. This is to gather additional information if the situation changes before officers arrive.
  • If it is not safe for you to stay on the phone, let the Operator know this immediately.

Written by Silver Sentinel

May 14, 2013 at 9:05 am

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.

Patrol Tip: An Ounce Of Prevention…

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The old saying holds true whether you are doing professional security or neighborhood safety patrols, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In your capacity as a paid guard, or as a volunteer, your primary aim is to protect people from harm and to prevent the destruction or damage of property. The absolute best way to do this is to PREVENT it before it happens.

Should you see someone entering private property, begin to climb a fence, or any other activity that could lead to criminal activity, you should take action to prevent it from the outset. Make your presence known, shout, shine your flashlight on them, turn on lights. Respond in a lawful (and safe) manner to do whatever you can to discourage the activity you are observing BEFORE it goes any further. Do not wait until they have committed the criminal act so that you may perform an arrest. A private (citizen’s) arrest should only be performed if it is absolutely necessary, and can be done safely. Your employer, or organization, may have further guidelines that will further outline when, or if, you may perform an arrest action.

Your very presence deters crime. Making visible patrols along perimeters, along walkways, and into secluded areas (with due caution), does decrease the likelihood of trouble makers staying in the area. Being alert and aware of your surroundings is also important. Make your rounds, but do not follow any set predictable patterns that may be exploited. If you are seen looking down and texting, or “resting your eyes”, or chatting blissfully away on the phone or with a co-worker, these are signs you are not paying attention to your assigned patrol area. Assume that eyes are always upon you, watching for a lack of vigilance. Don’t make your job any harder by creating inviting openings.

How To Survive A Shooting

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While chances are small that you will ever get shot at, unfortunately the possibility is still real.. especially if you go into neighborhoods with high crime rates and increased violence.  BE PREPARED!

Memorial to the September 13 2006 Dawson Colle...

Memorial to the September 13 2006 Dawson College Shooting Rampage (Photo credit: caribb)

If You Are the Intended Target

If someone begins firing a weapon from a distance, increase that distance immediately! Unless someone is trained (and always assume your attacker is trained.. or lucky), they are not likely to hit you with their initial shot.  The more shots they fire, the quicker they will zero in on your current position.

Do not run away in a straight line.  Weave, zig-zag, run behind objects that obscure your position, do anything to keep from presenting a prolonged visible or stationary target.  Get your body around a solid corner as fast as possible and keep running! Stay away from running in front of brightly lit windows, etc, where you will show up like a sore thumb. Also, do not run out into the street where you may be hit by traffic.

Rifles and assault weapons are designed for accuracy at range, or spraying a large number of shots, so increase distance and use cover.  Do not stay put behind a corner as the shooter may decide to pursue you.  As a rule of thumb, if someone is shooting, assume they are in pursuit and run for it.

If you are caught close to the action, get behind solid cover.  Solid Cover is anything heavy and substantial that can keep bullets from passing through it.  A car body and internal components (seats) may possibly stop small caliber ammunition, but not large caliber bullets.  Again, don’t gamble, assume the threat is using high caliber ammunition.  Get behind the heavier steel rims of the wheels, or the solid engine block of a vehicle if possible.

If you can, enter a building and head for the back exit.  Do not stop to look around.  Assume the shooter is on your trail and run like a bat out of hell.

Do not peek around the corner to track your attacker.. IF YOU CAN SEE THEM, THEN THEY CAN SEE YOU!  Use reflections from store windows, or look out from under the vehicle if you’re behind one.  Do what you need to do, but don’t poke any pieces of your body or head out where it can be shot.

Remember, getting shot at in real life is not the same as on television.  When you bleed you become weaker as time passes.  t does not take long to lose consciousness, or even die.  Nor do you know how much ammunition a shooter has, or how many weapons they are carrying.  Counting bullets, or listening for your attacker to reload are not safe indicators you are free to go.

If You Are Not the Primary Target

Get Down, Stay Down – Get as flat as possible IMMEDIATELY!  Do not kneel, or crouch.. DROP.

If you can, get behind a vehicle.  The same rules apply as above.  Get behind the tires, or engine block.  The body of a vehicle will not stop large caliber weapons (and always assume they are using a large caliber weapon).

If you are inside a building, get into another room fast and drop flat, preferably behind a large desk, file cabinet, etc.  Most interior walls are made of dry wall, or other flimsy construction that will not stop bullets.  Staying low and out of sight is your best option.

Up Close And Personal

If you happen to be at ground zero, and a shooter is practically in your face, present as small a target as possible.  Turn sideways, get low, get behind cover, whatever.  The most dangerous range to be near a shooter is between 15 to 30 feet.. statistically.  Un-statistically, any range is unhealthy!  Remember that increasing the distance increases your chances of survival.

If the shooter is outside, stay inside and stay away from doors and windows.  Get low, and behind something solid.

When The Shooting Stops

Do not come out until the shooting stops, or until the authorities have arrived (only if safe to do so).  If you must make a break for it, use the evasion techniques talked about above.  Do NOT approach the authorities when they arrive.  The first wave of officers will be there to search for active shooters, and to secure the area.  Follow their directions and continue past them.  Keep your hands visible at all times.  Shooters have been known to pretend to be innocents to deceive authorities.

Call 911!  Police drop everything and answer calls involving shots fired.  Everyone in the area is probably busy running for cover, freezing in panic, or praying to Jesus, so you  need to call 911 as soon as possible.  Even if you can’t talk to the operator, don’t worry, they will hear the gunshots and begin tracing your location.  Try to give the operator your location, number of shooters, and if there are any victims that you know of.  If you can give a rough description, like color and style clothing the shooter is wearing, that’s great, but don’t poke your head out if you don’t have to.

This is just a rough essay.  If you’re in a situation, you need to keep your head about you and make the best judgement call you can given what you know at the time.

An additional article by Marc MacYoung gives further advice and analysis.. “What Do I Do When Someone IS Shooting At Me?

Written by Silver Sentinel

May 7, 2013 at 9:11 am

Patrol Tip: Always Carry A Flashlight

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A small battery-operated flashlight consisting...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most important tools you can ever carry on duty, night or day, is a flashlight. In the old days, flashlights were larger and more cumbersome, but today’s flashlights can easily fit in one hand, and can be clipped onto a belt or inside your pants pocket comfortably. Remember, it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Whether you are a security guard on station, or community safety volunteer on patrol, you will come into situations where you need personal illumination. Unexpected power outages, entering into dim interiors from daylight, looking under vehicles or desks, etc, are all examples of when you might need extra light to be able to see. Some models of light even give you the option to use them for effective self-defense.

Qualities of a good flashlight:

  • Long battery life while in use
  • Powerful long-range beam (preferably 100 Lumens or stronger)
  • Weather proof
  • Shock/drop resistant
  • Sturdy metallic body
  • Uses LED “light-bulb”
  • Can be held and operated easily with one hand

Qualities of a bad flashlight:

  • Takes specialty batteries that are not available locally, or that take three weeks to arrive from over seas
  • Flimsy activation switch, or twist to turn on
  • Only stays on when button is pressed
  • Uses old-style bulbs (do not handle being dropped well)
  • Poor quality construction (plastic and thin aluminum do not resist accidental damage well)
  • Heavy/long bodies (large mag-lites are still good lights, but also present additional problems)

You can expect to pay $15-$25 for a good serviceable flashlight. DO NOT ENTRUST YOUR SAFETY TO A CHEAP FLASHLIGHT!

Two later articles, in the planning, will deal with using flashlights for self-defense, and tricks for seeing better in the dark.

Dealing With The Unexpected: People With Special Needs

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English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not every patrol is going to be a piece of cake. You will run into the unexpected, and you will have to be prepared to deal with the situation. Keep in mind that you are only a volunteer. Without special training, you can do more harm than good if you don’t know what you’re doing. If in doubt (and there is no immediate danger) call for the professionals and wait for them to arrive. Remember, you’re there to help, do no harm.

No matter what type of situation you are responding to, there is the possibility you will encounter someone with some form of disability who will require assistance. Some disabilities may be obvious, but other disabilities, such as mental illness, may not be easy to detect. Often you may not be able to tell if someone has a disability simply by looking at them. If you find yourself in a situation where someone is slow to respond, don’t become impatient. Take a deep breath, let it out, and assess with a clear mind.

People You May Encounter Who Need Special Assistance:

  • Seniors
  • People With Mobility Impairments
  • People Who Are Mentally Ill
  • People Who Are Blind Or Visually Impaired
  • People With Cognitive Disabilities
  • People With Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • People With Autism
  • People Who Are Deaf Or Hard Of Hearing
  • Childbearing Women and Newborns
  • People With Seizure Disorders

In order to better help official First Responders, a basic guide was created. While not in great depth, it does give people first on scene some tips of how to help assist those people with special needs. Again, when in doubt (and there is no immediate danger) call for the professionals and wait for them to arrive. (Tips for First Responders 4th Edition – 486kb, PDF file, 30 pages)