Springfield security agencies discuss ways to help keep yourself alert and aware in public

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 9:49 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - In light of mass shootings only days and weeks apart, many Americans wonder what steps they can take to stay safe in public places.

From churches, schools, stores, or movie theaters, local security pros urge awareness and preparedness. One local security protection agency said it had seen an uptick in calls since the recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The group said it is getting calls from schools and event centers as far as St. Louis and Kansas City asking for armed guards.

“In a perfect world, I would like no one to ever have to think about bad things possibly happening to them or their loved ones or innocents,” said Nick Manteris with Ascension Protective Services. “But we don’t live in a perfect world.”

Ten people died at a Buffalo supermarket, and days later, 21 more were shot to death at an elementary school in Texas. On Wednesday, four more were killed at an Oklahoma medical center.

It’s tragedies like these that Nick Manteris said now require difficult conversations.

”People need to understand that there are bad people,” he said.

Manteris is a vet, former law enforcement, and a longtime security agent. He said he has enjoyed dedicating his life to serving and protecting others.

“It is the strong’s duty to protect the weak,” he described.

His best piece of advice is simple. Manteris says you should always trust your instincts.

”Look for things that seem out of place,” he said. “Listen to your gut. If your gut tells you something is wrong, there’s probably something wrong.”

Beyond that, Manteris and other security specialists said people need to eliminate distractions.

“The biggest problem that we see is people have their heads in their phones,” Tim Brenner with TASK9 Security Guards said. “They’re not paying attention to their surroundings. So before you go out into a parking lot, make sure your hands are free.”

They said distractions can make you an easy target.

”If you are distracted, then you are not prepared, and you are not alert,” Manteris said. “You can’t see what’s going on around you. You can’t see those potential threats.”

Whether at a mall, movie theater, or grocery store, identifying exits is always essential.

”Look what might provide you cover in a bad situation,” Manteris said. “If you’re in the mall, as you’re walking, look around. If something bad happens right now, where can I go?”

If a threat arises, Manteris said it is crucial to make yourself a “hard target.”

”If something does go bad, get off the X,” he described. “Leave. Move. Don’t just stand there. Don’t be a sheep. Get off the X. Move. Make yourself a hard target.”

Beyond those tips, security groups also said it can help observe those around you; be aware of any suspicious behaviors, and don’t be afraid to report them.

“Many people have a tendency to avert their eyes if they’re uncomfortable,” Manteris said. “Don’t; look at the person and make eye contact. ‘I see you. Okay, you’re not going to catch me by surprise because I see you.’ And that goes a long way.”

You may also want to look for signs that could indicate an issue.

“I’ve trained many police officers over the years, and I’ve trained many soldiers over the years,” Manteris said. “I tell them, the hands are what hurt you. Look at the hands. I can see somebody somewhere. Alright, we make eye contact. I immediately look at their hands. Okay, I immediately look at their waistband. Maybe I see bulges in their clothing, which might be indicative of a concealed weapon? I don’t know. But I’m aware. And I think that’s how we all need to be. I think it might hopefully mitigate some of these tragedies that we’ve had over the past few months.”

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