URBAN SURVIVAL: The Greyman – Crazy Cop Eyes

What are you looking at fool?

The Greyman isn’t just about dressing in a way to blend in (or to not draw attention to yourself as a “prepared person”) – it is also about your mannerisms.

Most cops, cons, spies, CO’s* and martial artists can spot a colleague almost instantly just by the way they carry themselves. But one of the most blaring “I am a cop/military/prepared person” physical indicators a person can have is what I call the “Cop Crazy Eyes”.

Here is a little field trip for you guys: Go to Applebee’s for lunch and get a seat close to and facing the front door. Now watch the eyes of everyone who enters – right when they enter you can spot the off-duty cops and experienced tactical/mil guys and gals less than a second after they walk in by their zig-zagging eyes scanning the room.

The “Cop Crazy Eyes” thing was not only pointed out to me by UC* cops – I have heard several ex-cons say the same thing about spotting plainclothes cops. So you sure as shit don’t want some guy fresh out of the joint to recognize you as a threat, especially if they are just about to knock-over the place.

I has cheeseburger crazy cop eyes

You can still be observant and scan your environment without looking like someone watching a tennis match. Some of the best techniques for this come from the Tradecraft* world.

Most of you have probably seen spy movies like Spy Game where people scan the room by using reflective objects. This is a great way to nonchalantly check out people without burning a hole through them from staring or doing the zig-zagging eyes scanning thing.

You can also use your peripheral vision, this takes a bit of practice to master without giving yourself a headache. One of my favorite peripheral vision techniques I learned from an ex-SEAL I was working on an EP* gig with.

All you do is bend your head down (about at the same angle as if you were looking at your watch) and you will instantly have about 30% more peripheral vision. You can test this by holding your hand out to your side until you can just barely see it – then nod your head down, bam, 30% extra field of view.

By using the above techniques along with just being aware of your eye movements when entering a room you can rid yourself of the Crazy Cop Eyes.

*UC = Undercover
*CO = Correctional Officer
*Tradecraft = Skills used by people in the Intelligence Community
*EP = Executive Protection

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~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns and writing poorly written articles.

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14 thoughts on “URBAN SURVIVAL: The Greyman – Crazy Cop Eyes”

  1. Great tip on tilting the head for the extra 30%. I try to stay lowpro, especially when traveling. I got made at the OHare airport once, and the guy later told me over a drink that he saw me scanning.

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  2. Holy crap! That 30% down trick works amazingly well. Couldn’t believe it until I tried. I suppose an added benefit to that is also with your head lowered it’s more difficult for someone to notice you scanning as well. Great, helpful article.

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  3. Great tip, James!

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  4. +1 for the head down trick.

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  5. Damn, that is a good tip. Now I need to start wearing a watch again. I have been working more and more on my scanning without scanning, I have to consciously resist the quick full room scan when I walk into a place. But I have become more adept at the using of reflective surfaces to get an equal assessment.

    I also use my phone. It is similar in the idea of the watch, and since everyone in a place is usually focused on their phone doing the same head tilt with the watch and you can pretend to be reading an email or an article or playing a game etc. But it only works in certain places since it can look odd if you are constantly checking your phone. But the watch tip works great.

    Although just a little reminder of staying grey. Be careful of the watch you are wearing however. It can be just as revealing as the “crazy eyes”. If it is a PathFinder or big huge diving watch or a Luminox, MTM or Rogue Warrior etc. Those are easily recognizable and are worn by a lot of cops, military etc.

    But again, excellent tip James.

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  6. James,

    First, Great tip on the looking down thing. It works amazingly well!

    Second, This article was recommendations for getting rid of the cop crazy eyes. However, what about people who are not Cops, ex-mil, or spooks who don’t already have the crazy eyes.

    Obviously it is important to be constantly scanning your surroundings, and it takes practice to make this a habit.

    So, don’t you have to get the “crazy eyes” with the underlying skill and value they give, before you work on hiding it?

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  7. What about the G-Shock?

    Damn, that is a good tip. Now I need to start wearing a watch again. I have been working more and more on my scanning without scanning, I have to consciously resist the quick full room scan when I walk into a place. But I have become more adept at the using of reflective surfaces to get an equal assessment.
    I also use my phone. It is similar in the idea of the watch, and since everyone in a place is usually focused on their phone doing the same head tilt with the watch and you can pretend to be reading an email or an article or playing a game etc. But it only works in certain places since it can look odd if you are constantly checking your phone. But the watch tip works great.
    Although just a little reminder of staying grey. Be careful of the watch you are wearing however. It can be just as revealing as the “crazy eyes”. If it is a PathFinder orbig huge diving watch or a Luminox, MTM or Rogue Warrior etc. Those are easily recognizable and are worn by a lot of cops, military etc.
    But again, excellent tip James.  

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    1. I guess I need to switch out my clunky Matte Black G-Shock. It’s bad enough I rock tactical pants most of the time.

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  8. Nice one James, that peripheral vision trick is amazing and so simple.

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  9. What about the G-Shock?
      

    I think it woud depend on which style of G-shock. But as long as it doesn’t scream military or cop it should be all right. Or doesn’t take up half your arm. I would say the sportier version are cool to wear. Myself I have several watches a few that scream military or cop, my MTM Seal pretty much does, as do a couple of my other diving watches. But I tend to wear a non-descript H3 with no markings on it. The only thing that really gives that away is the Zulu strap. But I like those.

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  10. I think it woud depend on which style of G-shock. But as long as it doesn’t scream military or cop it should be all right. Or doesn’t take up half your arm. I would say the sportier version are cool to wear. Myself I have several watches a few that scream military or cop, my MTM Seal pretty much does, as do a couple of my other diving watches. But I tend to wear a non-descript H3 with no markings on it. The only thing that really gives that away is the Zulu strap. But I like those.  

    For some reason the zulu straps seam to attract attention. I’ve had more people ask #1 what is it?, #2 are you a cop/military? I think the g-shocks are pretty standard in civilian life so you should be safe with those.

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  11. If you want a great mil / LE watch that doesn’t scream it, look at the Hamilton Khaki series. Mine did 18 months on patrol before I went to investigations and they look good with the nylon zulu type straps.

    Good info overall. I’d further the post by saying sitting facing the door is tactically smart, and we all train our girlfriends / wives to take the seat with the tactical disadvantage. That being said, if you can use reflective objects you can face away and still eat in peace – all cons and cops know we have to face the door, so it is one more layer.

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  12. Here’s what works for me when I enter a restaurant, strange room, etc. Rather than turn on the “crazy [former] cop eyes” I get an almost blank, pleasant look on my face and look around the room as if to see if my “date” got there ahead of me, check my watch, look again… Behind the goofy look I’m high-speed processing the location of everyone’s hands, expressions, etc., without really looking hard at anyone or anything. Seems to work for me.

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    1. James, good article and especially if you pair it up with the tacticool / 5.11 tuxedo look articles.

      Same thing look I get is the, ‘Where is my date here?’ The funny part is with my looks, no one questions my motivation.

      Another thing I do if I want to look at someone on my side without looking obvious is to pretend I’m talking on my cell phone, snap a photograph & then pretend I’m answering a text message later.

      Now I’m kind of curious if there is software to allow close protection teams to stream video from their cellphones (screen facing their body, camera facing out) from multiple feeds to a computer with a dispatcher / team leader.

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