Using A Phone To Look Into The Hot Zone
When police officers want to look around a corner into a Hot Zone, where an armed suspect can be laying in wait for an ambush, they use a small tactical mirror to look around the corner rather than sticking their head around the corner and possibly getting shot. Of course, if time permits, the first peek is taken by the police officer in a kneeling position so that the mirror is low close to the floor. Hopefully the bad guy won’t see the low positioned mirror because most people scan for targets, even when looking at a corner, about chest height. In a tactical situation having the mirror low near the floor is difficult to detect. Special Operations teams go one step further when looking into a room from behind a corner with a camera lens located on a telescoping or bending tube that can be made to look around the corner and send the electronic image to a small viewing monitor. Needless to say, this piece of equipment is quite expensive. Several months ago I came up with the idea to use my phone, which, like most smart phones has still photography and video camera capabilities. I have been teaching police patrol officers and Special Operations officers and soldiers for two decades now in various quick peek methods, and merging the techniques with the new technology seemed like the next logical step to me. Sometimes the simplest of ideas are not always the easiest to come up with.
The use of camera phones has been an evolving process for me, and as I have come up with ideas on how to use it in personal protection situations, I eventually add the techniques and training methods to the Jim Wagner Reality-Based Personal Protection system. In my popular one-day Level 2 course called Situational Awareness I have my students use their camera phones to video tape a crime in progress. I stage a simulated fight, a realistic full scenario, and have witnesses immediately get out their phones and start recording the incident from a safe distance. The scenarios are anything from a domestic violence situation where a boyfriend is beating up his live-in girlfriend to a full-blown terrorist attack. Such images of the crime in a real life situation can be invaluable to the authorities for locating and prosecuting the guilty parties, not to mention having exclusive video for the networks to sell. Having done this type of training many times now, my mind was already used to using a camera phone, which practically everyone carries with them, as a crime-fighting tool.
In 2012 I have been training a lot of police and military personnel in my Special Operations course, and like any course that involves teaching room entries and building searches, I teach my professional students how to do tactical quick peeks around dangerous corners with just their own eyes, and then move onto tactical mirrors. A good tactical mirror is a rectangle shape with a flat black protective shell on the reverse side. Why the rectangle shape you may be asking? The reason is, because looking around a corner with a mirror is not the easiest thing to do if you are not trained in it. It sounds easy, but beginners waste a lot of time when first doing it. To find someone on the other side of the corner fast and easy you must first take your tactical mirror and hold it down in front of you on the ground and find the the horizon first. That is your first reference point. Of course, if you are armed you must keep the muzzle of your weapon pointing at the pivot point of the corner should the suspect suddenly come around the corner and surprise you as you are looking in the mirror. Once you have found the horizon, which is easier with a rectangular mirror because the horizon is flat, as opposed to using a small round mirror that will only give you a sliver of the horizon, you then start rotating the mirror around the corning following the distant horizon all the way. You are first trying to locate the suspect’s feet and then if you do see feet in your mirror you can start angling the mirror back so that you can see the body of the suspect. Of course most camera phones are rectangular in shape along with the touch screen that the image is viewed in. Instead of using a mirror you simply replace it with a camera phone. With my phone I have actually seen into a room better than with a mirror at times, and I can also record what I see.
Of course, you can see the value of the Wagner Phone Camera Peek if you are a victim of a terrorist attack and you want to look around the corner from your hiding spot to see if one of the terrorists is coming your way; or it could be an office shooter, school shooter, or whatever the case may be. Instead of sticking your head out into the open to take a peek and possibly getting your head blown off, you find the horizon of the floor in front of you and start pivoting your camera lens out into the Hot Zone. Only a very small portion of your phone is protruding from the corner. By doing so you then see what is happening out there. However, keep in mind that a tactical mirror and a camera phone used for tactical purposes have their limitations; such as not being able to look around large objects, into shadowed areas, or even into a dark room. Speaking of dark rooms, the viewing screen of a camera phone gives off light, and in really low-light situations a lot of light, that can expose your hiding position. You do not want to illuminate your position. This is why the record option is also good. You can cover over the viewing screen, the part that emits light, record the Hot Zone, and then go to a safer area to view the video. However, whenever you have eyes off target, even for a second, you run the risk of not having the most up-to-date information. While you were viewing the video the gunman may have changed his location or may even be moving up on you. Instantaneous viewing is always best, but combat is fluid and you do the best you can. Just be aware of the dangers.
As you can see, this technique is not just for tactical operators as I originally created it for, but anyone in a personal protection situation that has to look around a corner tactically. Like any technique you wish to commit to muscle memory you need to practice the Wagner Camera Phone Peek technique. Have someone stand in a room without revealing the location to you, and then practice the technique as I have described. With more practice you will be able to identify people and objects around a corner much faster each time.
Be A Hard Target.