Pre-Attack Indicators in Jails
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for my friends in corrections and it’s about pre-attack indicators – recognizing the signs that an inmate is about to attack you or someone else.
We know attacks happen in jail facilities. Your challenge is to recognize the warning signs and, when possible, use de-escalation to prevent an attack or the need for force.
Inmate assaults on other inmates or custody staff are nothing new. We can raise our awareness by understanding inmate behavior and recognizing signs and signals that an individual is contemplating using violence.
The first change in body language is posturing. This is meant to intimidate. The chest is puffed out, the eyes are widened and staring or blinking rapidly. The inmate may take a fighting stance by dropping their strong side back and balling their fists.
The next thing to look for is limbering. The individual will walk in circles or pace back and forth. They may shake their hands, lift and shake one foot at a time, or bob up and down on the balls of their feet. You should also look for rotation of the head, as if limbering the neck. Recognize this? You’ve probably seen boxers, wrestlers, or other fighters do this just before a match.
Also be aware of the verbal cues. Disrespectful names. Muttering to themselves. Blowing into the hands while psyching up for the attack.
We know attacks happen in jail facilities. Your challenge is to recognize the warning signs and, when possible, use de-escalation to prevent an attack or the need for force. And if use of force does become necessary, it’s important to articulate the warning signs in your report.
There is a wealth of research and training material on this topic for you to use. Don’t be a victim. Educate yourself on how to anticipate an attack and intervene safely and effectively.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.