Greece / Leaders & People

HAWC: Violence is Local, Be Ready

fullsizerenderLeading security experts joined the Hellenic American Womens Council (HAWC) 23rd annual conference “Recognize the Threat: Be Ready to Act” to raise awareness and provide practical solutions to mitigate any direct threat.

Many may say, “terrorism or violent acts won’t happen where I live”. However, Dr. Terry Gudaitis, founder of Mindstar Security and Profiling; Debra Anderson, Supervisory Intelligence Analyst, Counterterrorism Division, Federal Bureau of Investigations; Stephanie Samosa, Management and Program Analyst, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and, Andrew Rogers, Private Investigator and founder of Protect and Defend Firearms Academy, made it very very clear, violence is no longer quarantined to dark alleys in the middle of the night in the ‘wrong’ part of town or designated conflict areas around the world.

Today, violence is local. Deadly acts occur in areas that were once unthinkable for violent extremism: people praying at places of worship; children in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges; colleagues gathering for a holiday party; party goers at a dance club and a concert hall; holiday celebrants walking along a major corniche; and, travelers at an airport or on the subway.

What are the solutions?

For a more personal, ‘don’t be a victim’ approach, Andrew Rogers, a private investigator and founder of Protect & Defend Firearms Academy identified and recommended several practical solutions to empower individuals, especially women, who often are easily identified as potential victims.

Rogers referenced the OODA Loop as well as a color coded awareness level for potential threats.

Observe, Orient, Decide & Act

  • Observe your surroundings at all times.
  • Orient your self to your surroundings.
  • Decide best option for your safety.
  • Act.

Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, and Black

The color coded awareness level is also a practical tool to practice.

Rogers explained,

  • “Green” is in your bed, safe at home;
  • “Yellow” is with moving with awareness through the day;
  • “Orange” you are in a situation that requires being alert;
  • “Red” is the danger zone, need to act; and,
  • “Black” you are engaged in threat.

Rogers recommended that every should read the classic Gavin de Becker “The Gift of Fear”. Becker identifies essential markers one may observe but not recognize as threat until too late.

Observation plus awareness, empower individuals to choose the appropriate action and not be in a vulnerable situation, having to react, when it is typically too late to avoid a conflict.

Rogers also noted that if any direct threat is imminent, the best advice is to:

“Run, Hide, or Fight.”

Dr. Terry Gudaitis, founder of Mindstar Security & Profiling, in less than one minute, exposed how easily Chief Executives are vulnerable to threats due to their personal and professional IT systems, the lack of cyber security; and, their routines and physical properties.

For shocking illumination, Gudaitis said, “Do a Google search on yourself.” She advised everyone to recognize the vulnerabilities of their work and personal IT and WI-FI systems. Even more alarming, Gudaitis commented on how much of personal information is shared over social media channels. She recommended reviewing family social media channels and adjusting postings accordingly to be less exposed.

When the community needs additional support, resources are available to help. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has developed materials to help local leaders, teachers at schools, community centers, recreation centers, after-school programs, athletic programs, and, religious institutions to help identify risks and solutions. Two sources include:

  • Don’t Be a Puppet A free internet-based awareness program for teens.
  • Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools, an educational brochure produced by the FBI available for high school educators and partners.

Plus, the local FBI field offices also are readily available to speak with community groups on risks and solutions to mitigate any fears and work cooperatively to solve concerns.

The reality is individuals who are violently inclined, unstable, marginalized, and mentally unhealthy with access to firearms or weapons can be easily influenced either directly or indirectly and may be inspired by militant organizations or states to incite violence and threaten society.

If you and your family, are safe, protected, and aware, you are an asset to support a healthy and vibrant community.


  1. Read Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear
  2. Assess your situational awareness level, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, or Black
  3. Practice and get comfortable with OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act)
  4. Assess social media presence and practices of the whole family.
  5. Talk with your children about risks and privacy concerns on social media.
  6. Be the adult, monitor your children’s social media and that of their friends.
  7. Alert family members if you notice anything suspicious or at-risk behavior.
  8. Hire a professional to assess personal or professional IT, Cyber, and Physical assets.
  9. Be an old-fashioned Yaya: If you see something, say something.

HAWC, a national organization established to highlight the best of talents and leadership of Hellenic American women, was prescient in organizing the conference around the issue of awareness and deterrence of violent extremism.

The day after the conference and less then five miles away, an alleged armed gunman with three weapons shot into Comet & Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C. frightening restaurant goers and shutting down a major section of the city. The alleged suspect was later detained.

Imagine that you were eating at the pizzeria. What would you have done?

This is one of those rare situations in life, where everyone is at risk while simultaneously everyone is a part of the solution. If you see something, say something. 

By Keri Douglas, publisher and founder of Copyright protected. All rights reserved. Please note: author received complimentary access to the conference and lunch.


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