Increasing community protection means learning to be vigilant

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Mass shootings in Texas and Las Vegas have people wondering if there’s more they can be doing to protect themselves right now.

Security professional Freddie Harris said there are small lifestyle changes people can make to better protect themselves in any dangerous situation.

Harris owns Badger Krav Maga, a business in Madison, Wisconsin that's dedicated to self-defense. He also does security consulting, and coaching for places like churches and restaurants.

When it comes to violence, he said it should be taught as a behavior.

“We have to stop giving violence a face. Too often, I find that people try to put things into a box and say, ‘My bad guy is going to look like this,’” said Harris.

Harris explained, any community (churches, schools, towns, etc.) can learn to become more situationally aware. This is the ability to recognize when something is out of place. He said groups should learn to be vigilant, instead of paranoid.

“No matter what the race, gender, religious situation that you may be in, whether it’s formal or casual, we’re trained to look at the behavior and say, ‘Hey that’s not behavior that should be in this environment. That’s why I need to start my proactive approach to get safe,’” said Harris.

He stressed, situational awareness works best when the mindset is adopted by everyone.

Increasing protection within a community has multiple layers. Harris explained this in three parts:

First he said a venue, or facility should have some level of security. What kind of security is in place inside the building, and at entrances?

Second, there may be security in venues, but people using the venues should also consider what they can do, or learn to protect themselves.

Third, is working with groups like first responders so they are familiar with the building. Also, people inside the building should know how to let first responders do their jobs in the event of an emergency.

Harris said when it comes to situational awareness and self-defense, many communities have free and low-cost resources. He recommends people enroll in courses like a citizen’s academy, or self-defense class to learn and practice ways to become more vigilant.

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