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Kane: The goal of this is to keep you safe, but it makes you a better person, too. If you are paying attention to what is going on around you, you’ll notice if you accidentally say something that insults a friend, relative or co-worker. So there is no downside to getting good at paying attention to body language and seeing what people around you are about. And guess what? If you ever have to go to court and articulate why you did something, it makes you better at doing it.

Paying attention also gives you a little more time to react. If you are totally oblivious, and you don’t see it coming, it is really, really hard to recover. I was once shopping in downtown Seattle. It was late in the afternoon so the sun was in my eyes so I could barely see through the glare as I put stuff in the car. I heard a voice right next to me saying, “Hey, man, do you know what time it is?” I whipped around to look at him while I tossed the rest of the stuff in my car. We were next to a jewelry store with a sign that had a big clock on it, and the guy had a wristwatch!

eJournal: Oops! [Laughing.]

Kane: He had gotten really close, but the way I had turned let me clear out a little distance while I very quickly went from “zero” to “something bad is going to happen” mode. Fortunately, he pinged first that I might not be a very good victim, but I was completely and totally unprepared. You know, he could have come up and hit me upside the head but I didn’t even know he was there. This was in the afternoon in public, but that kind of stuff happens all the time.

Last week, there were a couple of school kids playing in a playground down the street from their middle school about a mile from where I live who were robbed by a couple of armed guys in broad daylight. Stuff can happen anywhere.

eJournal: You can understand children missing warning cues, but I’d hope armed adults could practice better awareness.

Kane: Especially if you are carrying a weapon! You have really got to be paying attention. You do not want someone taking your gun and using it on you; you do not want someone taking it and using it on someone else; you do not want to misinterpret what is going on and use it in an inappropriate way and regret it for the rest of your life.

eJournal: As I read Scaling Force, the force options you had categorized as Level 5 and Level 6 (less than lethal and lethal force) raised questions. What hope is there that we’ll inflict enough damage to deter or delay an assailant without going so far as to cause a permanent disability, resulting in accusations of excessive force? How can we train so we recognize when enough is enough and when it is safe to withdraw?

Kane: Your goal is not to punish anyone, to hurt any one. Your goal is to stop the threat so you can escape to safety. If you keep the goal in mind, it is a lot easier, right? Let’s say, you end up having to shoot somebody. As long as they are still attacking you, you keep shooting until they stop, right? But at the next level down, like you were saying, that is a little trickier. If it is working, you don’t need to go to a higher level of force.

Going back to the guy who was trying to see if I would be a good victim to rob, I basically did everything through body language and saying, “Hey, man, I don’t have a watch,” although we were both wearing watches. It wasn’t about the watch, it was to have him think, “Oh, this guy is not going to be an easy victim. I can see his body language. I can see he is prepared. I think I will go find someone else.”