The late Jeff Cooper pioneered the teaching of situational awareness by breaking down the levels of alertness into four colors of preparation. The premise behind these teachings is to give the individual the necessary education to develop a heightened sense of awareness regarding their surroundings. For law enforcement personnel and other public safety officials, this will always be the preferred method of reacting to prevent and contain violence acts while minimizing the use of deadly force.
Jeff Coopers State Of Situational Awareness Color Code
Condition White: The color white describes the condition where an individual is completely relaxed and unaware of what is going on around them. For law enforcement personnel, condition white should only be experienced during sleep. Unfortunately many officers let their guard down either at home or in other environments such as the police precinct. In today’s society even law enforcement is under attack. If you wear a uniform and serve as a member of the law enforcement community you can never allow yourself to be in condition white, even when you are off duty. An attack during condition white may result in serious injury or death.
Condition Yellow: In condition yellow, while you remain in a relaxed state you are aware of surroundings including the people around you. In essence you are alert and have moved your level of attention to stop you from being surprised by the actions of another person or persons. If you are walking, you will be aware of who is behind you, when choosing a seat in a public place; you will choose a position that gives you a full view of the entrance while also keeping the number of people behind you to a minimum. You will also be taking mental note of when and where a threat has the potential to appear while preparing your reaction should it be necessary to act. An attack experienced during condition yellow will not come as a complete surprise because your response will be one that has been anticipated and planned. If you are on duty, you should plan on being in condition yellow at all times, regardless of your level of comfort.
Condition Orange: Condition orange indicates that you have noticed something of interest, which could become a potential threat. Your internal radar has been altered and will remain alter until you become fully satisfied that the threat doesn’t exist. An example of condition orange for law enforcement is when an officer is dispatched to a potential crime scene. Officers may make the shift between yellow and orange multiple times a day. Keep in mind that you should never drop your general level of awareness because the person directly in front of you may be a distraction for the person behind them. If you were to be attacked in condition orange, you should be expecting the attack and your attention should already be focused in their direction preparing to move to condition red.
Condition Red: If you see something that you feel is threatening, you will move from condition orange to condition red. Condition red does not mean that you should act immediately, but rather that you should focus your attention to view a potential threat as a potential target. It is at this time that you will prepare to draw your weapon, or move to sight acquisition if and when the actions of the individual you have targeted render a response. Once you have moved your level of awareness to condition red, you should be prepared to take action. As a general rule, you should physically move to a position that will give you the greatest tactical advantage. In this way, should you experience an attack, you will be mentally prepared to defend yourself regardless if your gun is in hand or already locked on the target.