Ed­i­tor’s Let­ter

RECOIL OFFGRID - - Contents - By John Schwartze, Net­work Man­ager & Act­ing Ed­i­tor // RE­COIL OFFGRID

Are We Re­ally Any Safer?

As I write my ed­i­tor’s let­ter, the East Coast is just start­ing the slow process of re­bound­ing from Hur­ri­cane Michael. That in­cludes not only homes rav­aged by the storm, but the usual crim­i­nal loot­ing that fol­lows in those ar­eas. We also just re­cently passed the 17-year mark since we all woke up to a coun­try that’d never be the same again on Sept. 11, 2001. As I re­flect on all the dif­fer­ent ways these events con­tinue to af­fect the U.S., I still can’t help but won­der, whether we’re at home or abroad, are we re­ally any safer than we were 20 years ago? Is there re­ally any big­ger push to ed­u­cate peo­ple on how to pro­tect them­selves?

Here’s a case in point. A few other staff mem­bers and I re­cently at­tended a counter-cus­tody class taught by Ed Calderon, whom we in­ter­viewed in Is­sue 25. One of our homework as­sign­ments was to make and con­ceal weapons on our per­son and try and sneak them past a point of in­spec­tion dur­ing the fol­low­ing day’s class. Stu­dents were sub­jected to a fairly thor­ough pat down by some of Ed’s as­sis­tants who were al­ready fa­mil­iar with the many meth­ods peo­ple typ­i­cally use to hide weapons. I and sev­eral other peo­ple in the class suc­cess­fully de­feated the search and, although I felt good about com­plet­ing the as­sign­ment, a very dis­com­fort­ing re­al­iza­tion came over me. Whether it’s at an air­port or any other point of in­spec­tion, imag­ine how many so-called se­cu­rity mea­sures that sup­pos­edly make us safer are be­ing de­feated with the same amount of ease.

We prob­a­bly have all heard about some­one who forgot about the fold­ing knife in their carry-on or a few loose rounds of ammo in their pocket, yet it still went un­no­ticed through metal de­tec­tors or bag­gage scan­ners. Even though se­cu­rity has been greatly in­ten­si­fied over the last 17 years in any num­ber of ar­eas we travel through, there are tons of peo­ple at this very mo­ment work­ing on coun­ter­mea­sures that’ll suc­cess­fully thwart de­tec­tion of weapons, peo­ple, drugs, and any other heav­ily reg­u­lated com­mod­ity you can think of.

There are groups who buy the same qual­ity in­spec­tion equip­ment used by law en­force­ment with the sole pur­pose of dis­cov­er­ing its weak­nesses. There are peo­ple study­ing pro­to­cols and pat­terns of

TSA, Cus­toms, and var­i­ous other state and fed­eral en­ti­ties to iden­tify flaws in their meth­ods. There are de­coys sent through ev­ery se­cu­rity sys­tem imag­in­able to test the bound­aries of their ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Even in pris­ons where peo­ple are scru­ti­nized 24 hours a day, there are still sur­veil­lance blind spots, cap­i­tal crimes com­mit­ted, and con­tra­band that man­ages to get smug­gled in. If an en­vi­ron­ment that is pred­i­cated on se­cu­rity is still vul­ner­a­ble to exploitation, what does that tell you about en­trust­ing your safety to oth­ers? Time to start plan­ning for con­tin­gen­cies.

We’ve lined up some con­tent for you on lessons learned from one of Ed Calderon’s cour­ses on how to cir­cum­vent a kid­nap­per’s tech­niques. We’ll also show you the ba­sics of land nav­i­ga­tion, as well as some of the new­est com­pass of­fer­ings cur­rently on the mar­ket, lest that GPS you’ve be­come so re­liant on goes ka­put. In this is­sue’s What If col­umn, we dis­cuss some rec­om­men­da­tions on what to do if you sud­denly find your­self in the mid­dle of an air­line hi­jack­ing. We’ve also eval­u­ated some of the lat­est mo­bile emer­gency apps to see what fea­tures they of­fer and what sit­u­a­tions they’re best used for. And since fi­nan­cial ruin can also ac­com­pany dis­as­ter, we delve into the nu­ances of in­surance cov­er­age so you can bet­ter un­der­stand its in­tri­ca­cies and won’t fall victim to the fine print.

RE­COIL OFFGRID al­ways seeks to em­bolden you with the tools, train­ing, and re­sources that’ll keep you and your loved ones safe. The only way to de­feat dan­ger is to un­der­stand and po­ten­tially out­smart it. Think of it like a chess game. The bad guys or bad sit­u­a­tions make a move; you think a few steps ahead and make your next move. We hope this in­for­ma­tion will give you the ad­van­tage you need to en­sure your sur­vival.

If an en­vi­ron­ment that is pred­i­cated on se­cu­rity is still vul­ner­a­ble to exploitation, what does that tell you about en­trust­ing your safety to oth­ers?

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