In the last few columns, we’ve been covering the importance of community in preparedness. For this purpose, we created a mythical community called the Yakima Narrows, which is now engaged in gathering information to help its members prepare for possible threats from the surrounding area.
Last week, our intelligence gathering was focused on the Yakima and Union Gap Police Departments and the Yakima County Sheriff. We didn’t get anywhere near the data we need to collect, of course. Besides getting in-depth information on specific officers and deputies, types and numbers of weapons available to those officers, disciplinary records and the like, we would also be wise to look at the officers of the U.S. Marshals office in Yakima (with an estimate of six full-time field agents based on the 1033 allotments), the Yakima Military Training Center, and the Yakima Armory and Readiness Center.
But there’s another organization that the Narrows intelligence team desperately needs to get a handle on. In point of fact, if you don’t run a pretty complete assessment of your own group, then making plans for community safety in troubled times will be pointless.
That’s right. You need to “spy” on the Yakima Narrows.
It’s vital to know as much as you can about the people who reside in your AO (Area of Operation). Sure, you’ve been able to meet a bunch of them at the semiannual potluck, and when you built that emergency life-flight heli-pad for community use, you shared a few beers with the guys that donated their time on the heavy equipment. And you either know, or know someone who knows, the names of most of the community families.
But being on a “waving” relationship with community members driving by isn’t enough.
Now in all honesty, I probably should have started this series on intelligence analysis by exhorting you to start your data collection within the Area of Operation. For one thing, the kind of information you’d acquire might have been a big help in threat analysis outside of the community. But I wanted to show you why it’s in the best interests of a prepper community to honestly assess potential threats to the safety and security of the community, and that’s a lot easier to understand when the “threats” are external. Hopefully I’ve succeeded.
But knowing that the sister of the Yakima Police Chief lives four houses down from you, or that the folks a block away used to be on the Yakima Gang Task Force, or that the guy across the street is a retired Marine Corp sniper, or that the farmer at the end of the road is a licensed blaster – could be real useful.
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It isn’t enough to just “know” this stuff. You need to have it recorded and available for review, additions and modifications. The data you compile on community members should be stored “old school” on index cards or in a binder. If that’s too much like ink and quill for you and you insist on using a computer (for certain advantages like database searching and the like), then you should be using an “air-gapped” machine, meaning a computer with no Internet or networking capacity. After all, while your purposes for gathering data on your neighbors are pure, the use of that data by a hacker probably won’t be.
The simplest way to order your information is probably by household (assuming you don’t have a lot of community members living in tents), and the data you need to collect can come from both open sources (like the Internet) and human sources. Some of the information you’ll want to record will include: Names, ages, health status, jobs, education, military service, hobbies, hunting experience, political suasion, prepper level and interest, vehicles, equipment, and property ownership (if the individual or family in question doesn’t own the property they live on, who does?). Other more nebulous and subjective information collected might include aggressiveness levels, leader-follower ratios, and known habits and idiosyncrasies.
You should develop a reliability scale for the information you get. On a one-to-five scale, anything three or below should be automatically checked with different sources for accuracy. Getting your raw information will be easy. Just talk to people. Every community I’ve ever lived in contains at least one person who knows the dirt on everyone else (including you). At the semi-annual barbeque, simply mingle and ask questions. Check open-source records like property assessments. Get hold of plat maps. You might be surprised at who actually owns the land in your community.
Just remember, if it’s all in your head, it’s nowhere. If you have it on paper, you’ll be able to figure out where the gaps are in your intelligence, and then you can fill in those gaps.
Why is this stuff so important? Well last week I said I’d tell you what you should do about something like a government-confiscation scheme effecting the Yakima Narrows in a SHTF situation. But I really can’t; because unlike the community I live in, the Yakima Narrows doesn’t exist.
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If the population of the Narrows consists mainly of 80-year-old liberal retirees on oxygen living on open flatland, I’d tell you one thing. If most of the members of the Narrows are former infantrymen, avid hunters, and heavy equipment operators up a windy, steep-walled canyon, my advice would be completely different. But either way, plans can and should be made, but they can’t be made until you’ve gained realistic external and internal intelligence.
So that’s it for the Yakima Narrows. Hope it all works out for them. Next week, I’ll cover an email question I got from a reader, to wit: “I’m moving. How do I find preppers or a prepper community in my new area?”
So until then, collect some neighborhood data, organize a barbeque and get prepared.