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SIMPAL Method for Security Professionals

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

The SIMPAL Method was created from the lens of seeing the world through the eyes of a security professional. As security professionals, it is essential to have the basic skills required to perform, despite the rigors of your chosen profession. Among those rigors is the requirement to always be alert and aware of your surroundings. The primary function of your duty is to be a presence that deters wrongdoing. But if your presence is the only thing preventing problems, then are you really equipped to handle the potential of what might come next?

With the SIMPAL Method, you’ll be able to re-adjust how you see the world, enabling you to be a step ahead of any potential problems. The key is to participate in conscious engagement within your surroundings. Conscious engagement is the primary element during the first step of Scan in the SIMPAL Method. During the Scan step, it is crucial to be alert and engaged with your surroundings. If you’re the type of person who gets distracted easily, it becomes even more important to stay focused on being engaged. Engaging with your world doesn’t mean you’re just sparking up a conversation with every person that comes by. That may work to create relationships with people, which is also important, but it is not what you’re trying to do through conscious engagement.

Through conscious engagement, you should have an idea of what you want to say in order to get to the information you want to collect from the person you’re talking to. This may seem manipulative to some, but in the world of being a security professional, the goal is to always stay one step ahead of any situation that could turn bad. If you are able to engage with people in a way where you’re meeting the objective of the conversation and also able to create a relationship with them, then you’re accomplishing the goal of each interaction. Conscious engagement is an important element in the SIMPAL Method, because it is what gets the whole process started.

While in Scan mode, you’ll be more receptive to anomalies that present themselves if you’re using conscious engagement properly. The second an anomaly presents itself, you’ll be prepared to identify it since you were already in a state of readiness. This state of readiness will work in your advantage throughout the SIMPAL Method process. The unfortunate truth for anyone encountering a potential threat is that there is no set outcome at any point in the process. From Scan to Look-over, the entire process could play out over an extended period of time, or in less than a minute. Early identification is what will give you the best chance of stopping a threat, which puts more emphasis on staying alert during the Scan step. As a security professional, knowing that a threat can present itself and become dangerous so quickly, it is more important to be prepared at all times.

The majority of the work you will be doing, will be during the Scan step. You will constantly be looking for anomalies that could lead to a threat. While it is important to know all the elements of the Identify step, your money is made in the Scan step. Once you know what you’re looking for from the Identify step, you’ll be able to occasionally pick a person out from the crowd, who might not be showing any signs at the moment, but you know will later on. After spending enough time working through the SIMPAL Method process, you should begin to notice patterns. Patterns will begin to present themselves in the people, places, and events that you frequently work within. Certain behaviors will begin to become more noticeable within those patterns, where your effectiveness in identification will increase with practice.

During the Identify step is where all the behaviors discussed in the SIMPAL Method will be observed and practiced. For instance, it is important to study and understand biometric cues, so that when they present themselves you’re able to pick them out in the correct context immediately. You will need to know what it means when you see a person who does not appear to be under the influence of a substance but has pinpoint small pupils in a generally dimly lit area. What other behaviors could this person be displaying? If you don’t know what other behaviors may mean, you may not understand what the person is telling you through their actions. Are they also fidgety and generally seem uninterested in what you have to say when you approach them? These are not normal behaviors, especially when they are all displayed together, which definitely needs further examination.

A person who has pinpoint pupils, is fidgety, and is showing general disinterest in your attempt at a conversation is most certainly someone who has some things on their mind. It becomes up to you as the security professional to get an understanding of what exactly that is. Could this person have just had an argument with their significant other and now is feeling the effects of that exchange? Possibly, but what if you were to learn the argument stemmed from financial issues in the relationship. Now what if you work at a bank? You should now be considering the possibility that this person’s behavior may also have something to do with intentions that led them to this bank in the first place. This is just an example of how certain behaviors in a specific context should fall within patterns that you’ll establish as you practice using the SIMPAL Method.

The moment after recognizing the behaviors, and then deciding to conduct an interview of this person, you have just moved into the Monitor step. By engaging in an interview and question session with this person, you have begun a narrative method of qualitative research. In most cases of doing the job of a security professional, the narrative method of research is going to be your expected choice. Where this may differ is in a case where you know your presence is more likely to cause a larger disturbance, you may decide to observe and conduct ethnographic research. In the case of using the ethnography method, you will need to know that there isn’t any urgency to conduct an interview of the person. In a dynamic environment, you may need to quickly change methods on the fly, since you will never fully have control over any situation.

After conducting your research into the behaviors you’ve witnessed, it will be at this time that you will form your hypothesis. You should be formulating this hypothesis in your head as you either observe or interview the person. If you’ve formed a good hypothesis, you should have created a question based on the expectations of what the result of your experiment will be. This should happen quickly as all the information you’ve collected up to this point will shape the result you think will happen after you conduct your experiment in the Probe step.

During the Probe step of the SIMPAL Method, you will be conducting your experiment to get to the truth of matter. If we are about to conduct our experiment into the behaviors of the person at the bank, we will now likely perform a field experiment. This is where you, as the security professional, will attempt to control the situation. By instructing the person to leave or comply by other attempts of control, you are introducing your presence as the independent variable. Your attempt at controlling the situation will generate a reaction that will immediately lead you to the Act step of the SIMPAL Method.

The Act step of the SIMPAL Method is where you find out if the hypothesis you formed at the end of the Monitor step is valid or not. During this step is where you as the security professional would collect their information and escort the individual off the premises, respond to a physical altercation, or make an arrest. These are just three examples of what could happen in this scenario, and the security professional should always use their training and best judgement in how to properly handle any situation.

It is essential for all practitioners to understand that the Act step is not complete until the immediate threat or potential of violence has ceased to exist. In the case of having to defend yourself from a physical threat, the Act step is not over until the individual is in handcuffs or you are able to restrain them allowing yourself to immediately turn to the last step of the SIMPAL Method, Look-over. At this point it is temporarily safe enough to return to the Scan step to ensure there are no other threats to worry about. After the individual has been removed from the premises, if no other threats are present, it will then be safe to move on to analyzing the situation.

Through content analysis, you’ll be able to break down each step of the SIMPAL Method that you encountered from start to finish of the interaction. When looking over the information you have gathered throughout the process, you want to examine your ability to notice and properly interpret the information as you saw it in real time. Ask yourself if the behavior you initially noticed still means what you think it did at that time. Are you able to extrapolate new information from your content analysis that you did not consider before? The purpose of analyzing the data is to settle on a conclusion that will help you with a similar situation in the future.

What makes the SIMPAL Method special, is how it uses the natural flow of getting to a conclusion, but allows practitioners to understand the how and the why. For an experienced security professional, you are likely to follow the same process from start to finish, but what the SIMPAL Method does is give you the ability to break down the situation and make sense of it. And the more you use the SIMPAL Method and understand it’s six parts, the better you’ll be at handling any situation that comes your way. The better you know it, the better you’ll be at using it.

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