Black Knight Tactical Group and Eclipse Protection have partnered up to provide a world class training system that teaches the complete spectrum of the Defensive Use of Force. We have combined the most relied upon concepts taught in the United States Military, Law Enforcement, and the Private and Executive Security Industry. Used to aid their men and women when engaged with the enemy this has proven to be an invaluable tool. Given to Law Enforcement and Private Security it enhances decision making and survival when on duty. These tools are OODA Loops and Color Codes of Situation Awareness. Which are measures taken that should provide the types of clues you need to make appropriate decisions as they arise. We will then take a dive into De-escalation and what needs to also be considered to avoid the use of force. Noting that not every occurrence that is experienced is criminal it could also be psychological in nature. That maybe there are underlying cues to the subject’s behavior that will suggest an easier path to resolve certain incidents.
As each new set of circumstances arises the Security Officer will start/re-start another cycle of action and re-action which is referred to as the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) (Mckay, B. and McKay, K. 2021). This system is “a method of dealing with uncertainty and a strategy for winning head-to-head contests” (Mckay, B. and McKay, K. 2021). The levels of training and experience that the Security Officer has dictates his or her reactions to any new set of circumstances that come up. The re-action of the Subject or Subjects to the Security Officer should be one of compliance and is what achieves a positive result. Or negatively causes the Security Officer to resort to a new loop after introducing an escalation of force. It should be noted that typically between the Orient and Decide points of the loop is when an unexpected event occurs, instead of thinking what the Security Officer has done in the past, he or she must disengage and re-start the loop.
Colonel Boyd the authority on this subject based his OODA Loop process on his “inference” of these three different scientific theories “Gödel’s Proof, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics” (Mckay, B. and McKay, K. 2021).
A) Gödel’s Proof: “any logical model of reality is incomplete (and possibly inconsistent) and must be continuously refined/adapted in the face of new observations” (Mckay, B. and McKay, K. 2021).
B) Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: “as we get more precise observations about a particular domain, were likely to experience uncertainty about another. Hence, there is a limitation in our ability to observe reality with precision” (Mckay, B. and McKay, K. 2021).
C) 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: “individuals or organizations that don’t communicate with the outside world by getting new information about the environment or by creating new mental models act like a “closed system”” (as quoted in Mckay, B. and McKay, K. 2021). And “just as a closed system in nature will have increasing entropy, or disorder, so too will a person or organization experience mental entropy or disorder if they’re cut off from the outside world and new information” (Mckay, B. and McKay, K. 2021).
How this works in our case, is that the Security Officer has arrived at an apartment complex to tell a tenant that City Noise Ordinance has taken effect, and to please lower the music volume. As the conversation is being carried out, the Security Officer Observes that there are multiple people in the apartment and are more than likely having a party. This caused the Security Officer to Orient his or her thinking to the Apartment Complexes rules on no parties with five or more people due to COVID 19 or Corona Virus protocols. Deciding that the best course of Action is to advise the tenant that they are in violation of State, City, and Property regulations.
In theory if there are rules which dictate the proper response from Security the same must also exist for the tenant. Rules that bind the Security Officers actions come from legal precedent of Constitutional Law, state, and local laws, and company policy. As for the tenant there are rules such as Federal, State, Local laws, and Property Regulations which should dictate the proper response from them as well. So, any further actions must be directed up the Security Officers Chain of Command. Each time something happens that changes the information set, it must be communicated.
By making it where each time that happens our Security Officer must start another OODA Loop. It permits a necessary additional analysis before their next course of action takes place. This additional analysis could enact another OODA Loop alongside the Security Officers, such as Dispatch contacting Law Enforcement for assistance. Or Property Management for guidance. It must be noted that due to the specifics of each contract, the scope of response is restricted in most cases. Without approval from a higher authority there is not much more our Security Officer may be able to do. Not necessarily the optimal decision to let this remain as a warning and see if they comply. In this case though, our Security Officer has accomplished the first efforts in his or her Use of Force continuum which is seeking compliance through regulation.
At Black Knight Tactical Group, we have also combined the prior mentioned concepts with OODA Loop and another military concept produced by Colonel Jeff Cooper, the Color Codes of Situation Awareness. In which the Colonel teaches awareness levels tied with a color code, which should be determined by the current information set. When being applied to the Security Officers work setting it is not only determined by the Service Level at which he or she serves, it also includes the current threat level at his or her individual post assignment. We have connected these to coincide with the level of defensive force permitted to help avoid excessive use of force claims.
• Level I: Unarmed and Uniformed Security is present to observe and report findings. Situation Awareness Color Code: Yellow- “you are looking all around you in a 360 degree arc, not just in front of you… You are watching for things that might present a threat or for changes in your environment” (as quoted in Schwartz 2019). The level of force permitted to you is compliance through law or regulations. Use of Force allowed is Self Defense techniques only.
• Level II: Equipped with Defensive Tools and Uniformed, Security is present to observe, locate, and report the source of a new threat to the environment. They are also prepared appropriately to make the choice to defend oneself as necessary, with enough force to stop and control the threat. Situation Awareness Color Code: Orange- “You have now identified something or someone that is a potential threat…The decision has been made what will trigger an action on your part” (as quoted in Schwartz 2019). Defensive tools include Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Spray, Defensive Baton, and Handcuffs. The handcuffs are applied to control a subject that has submitted having been exposed to either Defensive OC Spray or a Defensive Baton Strike. Once the handcuffs are applied any other application of force stops.
• Level III: Equipped with Defensive Tools and Self Defense Firearm and Ammunition and is also Uniformed. They are present to observe, report, locate, and act on the source of a new threat to the environment. As well they are prepared to appropriately defend themselves as necessary, only with enough force to stop and control the threat. Situation Awareness Color Code: Red “You are ready and expect that you will need to fight and or act. You take action only when a trigger condition or event occurs” (as quoted in Schwartz 2019). Defensive tools include Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Spray, Defensive Baton, and Handcuffs. The handcuffs are applied to control a subject that has submitted having been exposed to either Defensive OC Spray or a Defensive Baton Strike. Once the handcuffs are applied any other application of force stops. The triggering action to use Deadly Force is when the Security Officer is in immediate danger of permanent injury, disfigurement, or death. He or she is only allowed to use Deadly force to stop an immediate threat to the lives of fellow officers and citizens. He or she is allowed to use Deadly Force when instructed to do so by a Law Enforcement Official.
NOTES: Each of these levels has an Awareness Color Code of Red attached to it. The severity of the of the injuries that may be sustained from the Security Officer having to use his or her, Self Defense Techniques or Tools is unpredictable. However, we can tell the likelihood of great bodily harm or death is greatest from the use of a Firearm. The Expandable Baton included in the Defensive tools has been reported to have caused death by an impact to the skull. In Levels I, II, and III training any areas that when impacted or struck by bullets that will cause great bodily harm or death have been clearly identified. These areas are only to be impacted or struck when the Officer is in immediate danger of great bodily harm or death.
Part II De-escalation
The following should be considered as part of the Use of Force policies that every service provider has. De-escalation involves taking the incident and applying yet another technique to resolve it. These are not to be considered as “tools in the belt”. These techniques are going to be applied simultaneously as the circumstances unfolds. By identifying components of the subjects behavior and what emotions may be causing it, Security may find another path of resolving the circumstance without having to escalate his or her force options.
What is De-Escalation?
De-escalation is defined as the ability to lower the severity of a situation using non-lethal countermeasures by observing and intercepting pre-threat indicators with verbal and/or physical intervention. It is observing, recognizing, and interceding on emotional, physical, and psychological indicators which may indicate violence towards themselves, the environment, and the officer/agent/operative. Depending on the level of resistance and the type of threat force is a type of de-escalation based on the officer/agent/operative’s ability and capability.
Eclipse Protection Inc’s protocols and procedures in Verbal De-escalation is rooted in ABA [Applied Behavioral Analysis]. ABA is an intervention system based on learning and behavior. Eclipse Protection Inc’s focuses on the antecedent of the behavior, which can also be known as the triggering event/pre-incident indicator. We focus on the function of the behavior and the topography and symptomology of the behavior [what the behavior looks like], while providing the reward/need/objective of the behavior throughout the interaction and maintaining boundaries through observation of the subject’s emotional/psychological baseline.
The Functions of The Behavior
The function of the behavior is categorized into four key elements. Attention. Tangible. Escape and Automatic. Attention is defined as the want/need/desire to be acknowledged, heard, seen, or interacted with. An example of a behavior that is used to get attention would be an individual testing the boundaries/rules/regulations of an another individual or their environment. The Tangible function of behavior is the desire/want/need of a specific item. A simple example of this function of behavior is a subject/individual exhibiting physiological indicators of possessing contraband/weaponry. The triggering event being the clustered behavior which provides evidence, the behavior being the act of reaching or inferring such item/s [contraband/weaponry] and the consequence being the endangerment of the environment and officer/agent/operative. The negative consequence being the officer/agent/operative may result to force out of evidence and prior experience with the behavior. There is always a negative and a positive consequence of a behavior whether or not it immediately impacts the individual, bystanders, or the environment. Escape is the function of behavior an individual expresses when trying to be relieved of stressors, duties, obligations, and expectations. An individual who attempts to fight or flee exhibits the escape behavior, while the automatic response is directly attached to a preset behavior or item which rewards itself through action. This can be observed through engagements that become verbally/physically aggressive without the proper indicators. The indicators in this function are directly dependent to the officer/agent/operative’s ability to interact with the subject as well as the perception of the subject. An individual’s persistent emotions and continued inappropriate verbal engagements can drive them to violence even if the officer/agent/operative is acting appropriately and competently.
Eclipse Protection Inc. identifies the function of the behavior within an interaction based off the triggering event, the consequence presented, and the emotional/psychological/physiological response presented. The officer/agent/operative then uses verbal de-escalation to mitigate the potential threat as the situation dictates. This is not applicable to those expressing active resistance or producing contraband/weaponry as a response. Although it should be noted, de-escalation can be integrated with force-on-force applications/situations.
A baseline is defined as the ability to regulate stimuli to maintain coherency, clarity, and ability. An individual who is exhibiting emotional/psychological stressors which impair their functioning is compromised. Understand compromised individuals lack the ability to regulate themselves and make appropriate choices. The officer/agent/operative must first provide the tools to bring the subject back to a baseline appropriate for the situation/interaction. The de-escalation becomes possible through establishing and maintaining a positive rapport and respecting and asserting roles and boundaries as the situation dictates.
When observing physiological responses of an individual their behavior should be observed in clusters to better understand the function or desired action. An individual expressing the symptoms of power/control, invalidation, anger, and lack of autonomy may physically engage the officer/agent/operative. The officer/agent/operative must not only observe these indicators, but also deploy skills which intercept and contain the occurrences/actions of the individual/subject. There are instances where only one indicator is needed such as the presence of a firearm, the discharge of a firearm, or other actions exhibiting imminence and evidence of a lethal threat.
It should be noted both Verbal De-escalation and Combative applications are directly dependent upon the officer/agent/operative’s skillset, capability, and ability.
An example of one of the procedures Eclipse Protection Inc. trains officers/agents/operatives in is L.A.C.E. Listening. Affect Labelling. Co-Regulation. Empathy:
Listening is defined as processing information through auditory stimuli. Through the observation of tone, diction, verbiage, message, and meaning the officer/agent/operative is able to appropriately deploy verbal skills to positively interact with the compromised individual/subject and promote de-escalation through conflict resolution rather than force. Tone is the emotional intonation a person will use to help convey their message. Diction is the specific word choice a speaker uses to convey a message. While the message is the summation of the contents in context to the interaction.
Affect Labeling, also called “emotional naming,” is the ability to observe and recognize emotions as they are being expressed. Each emotional has a meaning attached to it in context to the situation. For example, an individual who is expressing, grief [anger, sorrow, confusion] is expressing what they lost mattered to them. This awareness and competency of emotions allows the officer/agent/operative to compassionately interact with the individual/subject and give space for them to feel rather than to act. It is when emotions and maladaptive thoughts are unheard, invalidated, or ignored which drives a subject to violence or physical aggression.
Co-Regulation is defined as displaying and exhibiting the appropriate response in a crisis situation as a means to help the crisis individual emotionally and/or psychologically regulate themselves and return to their baseline. Co-regulation is not dismissing their emotional/psychological response to the situation, it is validating their emotional experience while encouraging the behavior the officer/agent/operative desires. It should be noted, this is not emotional mirroring. The transitionary skill where the officer/agent/operative mimics the emotion being displayed to gain rapport through emotional validation. Emotional mirroring can sometimes escalate a situation and is commonly used to raise an officer/agent/operative’s engagement level. Co-Regulation is a reflective skill in which the officer/agent/operative uses non-threatening body language, appropriate dialogue, patience, and compassion to aid the subject through de-escalation. It is leading by example and not being emotionally/psychologically swayed/manipulated by the subject’s experience or point-of-view.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand another human’s experience is valid and equally important to them as our point-of-view and experience is to the officer/agent/operative. It is knowing one does not need to have experienced the incident/crisis/situation to have compassion for the subject/individual. It is giving space to listen to the subject’s emotions, validate them if necessary, and then set boundaries based on the officer/agent/operative’s objectives. Empathy is not accepting behaviors. It is understanding every behavior serves a purpose and when an individual is truly in crisis they are compromised. Meaning, they cannot make an appropriate decision for themselves based on emotional/psychological/physiological stress. It is the duty of the officer/agent/operative through developing and maintaining positive rapport with their soft skill set [Verbal De-Escalation, Threat Mitigation, and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving] to encourage conflict and crisis resolution if there is no imminent threat/danger or evidence of active resistance. Empathy is understanding an individual is under duress and making space for them to be heard/seen/valued.
Eclipse Protection uses Psychologist Paul Eckman’s six basic emotions that he suggested were universally experienced in all human cultures. These emotions are Happiness, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, Surprise, and Anger. Other emotions such as Grief are complex as they are a combination of different emotions each with its on varying severity level. Each of these emotions is expressed differently and communicates a specific trigger/vulnerability. For example, and individual who is exhibiting the emotions of anger, jealousy, and fear is more likely to engage in their fight response. The fight response indicates what the individual is about to lose is important to them. Using the procedure L.A.C.E to de-escalate and/or control/contain a potentially aggressive situation. The officer/agent/operative must first listen to the overall tone/diction/verbiage/meaning of the subject’s message. After deciphering their message, the officer/agent/operative labels the subject’s affect/emotion while providing validation for their emotional experience and showing the appropriate/healthy response to the situation [Co-Regulation] and then empathizing with the emotional meaning but still setting boundaries based on the pre-threat-indicators that are/were being displayed. After completing this procedure, the officer/agent/operative must then re-evaluate the situation to observe whether the situation/interaction is being de-escalated/controlled/contained and deploy appropriate countermeasures based on imminence [when a threat will present itself] as well as evidence [what is already being observed to label highest/severe level of threat possible. If there is no apparent threat continue with verbal countermeasures [verbal de-escalation].
De-escalation is the ability to observe a subject’s emotional/psychological/physiological baseline while maintaining emotional/psychological clarity to intercede and intercept violence. Through observation of a subject’s pre-incident indicators and deploying appropriate countermeasures based on the threat level and force continuum. The threat level is directly tied to the location of the Security Officer or Protection Specialist. Careful thought and consideration must be applied when selecting the service level for these locations. But it should go without saying that “the best way to win a fight is avoiding it” (author unknown). Using the defensive tools present in this article with what you already have, you have begun to change how we use force.
Mckay, B. and McKay, K. (2021). The Tao of Boyd; how to master the OODA loop. Retrieved from https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/ooda-loop/
Schwartz, L. (2019). Stay alert: situational awareness color codes. https://www.americanoutdoor.guide/prepping/situational-awareness-color-codes/