TCIRL Live From CrimeCon 2021: Chatting With Spencer Coursen, Author of The Safety Trap
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KELLI BRINK 0:10
You’re listening to True Crime IRL true crime in real life and I’m your host Kelli Behrens brink. And this is an interview with Spencer Corson, security expert and author of the new book The safety trap
Hey everybody, here I am again just totally gushing to you about the amazing time I had at crime con 2021 in Austin, Texas. As I said in last week’s episode, I was able to do some amazing interviews and meetups while I was there. Last week, I shared the interview that I did with Carly Bodine, whose mother Karen Bodine was brutally murdered in 2007, in what is still an unsolved cold case, so be sure to listen to that episode. And now in this episode, I’m shifting gears a little bit and I’m sharing my interview that I did with Spencer person, which I also did live at crime con. So this interview deviates a little bit from my normal discussion of you know, murder mysteries and cold cases. And we were able to share a little bit more of a light hearted conversation and and that was really nice, nice change of pace there. So Spencer recently released his new book called The safety trap. And in this book Spencer discusses the fact that although the times we live in are truly safer than ever before, that presumed safety can also give us a false sense of security topics of the book range from you know, home security options to keeping your kids safe. And he urges all of us not to depend on others for our own safety. But he shows us that the everyday person can actually shoulder that responsibility on our own and he shows us how to do that Spencer courses crime con sessions were very informative and entertaining. He’s he’s actually kind of a funny guy. But don’t tell him I told you that and he kept the crime con audiences totally engaged with his real world relevant advice and anecdotes. If you missed him at crime con 2021 in Austin, you’ll definitely need to catch him at crime con 2022 in Vegas. So without further ado, here’s my interview with Spencer Coursen, security expert and author of the safety trap in stores now.
So Spencer, just take a moment and introduce yourself to my audience and tell them a little bit about yourself.
Spencer Coursen 2:58
My name is Spencer Coursen. I am a threat management expert founder of course and security group and author of the safety trap.
KELLI BRINK 3:05
How many years have you been going to crime con?
Spencer Coursen 3:07
This is only my second crime con first one was in where were we in Orleans. And then I was looking after I was helping out the organizers who are personal friends of mine. And they asked me if I would be willing to help them out with some of the security protocols help them that the like security managers that were going to be overseeing the event. And then they asked me to help look after the protection needs of the date blank crew when they were in town. Well, obviously last year was supposed to be in Orlando, and I was going to help them out with that. Maybe have a presentation with Jason. But that went up getting canceled because of COVID. And then here we are in the sweet state of Texas in my hometown of Austin. And it’s an absolute privilege to have crime con here. And it was even a better privilege to have this be the home of my very first safety trap presentation. I got to do my very first in person book signing, got to give a couple speeches, got to do a couple of meet and greets got to meet some really great and fascinating people. And it was it’s just been a true pleasure.
KELLI BRINK 4:18
Okay, so crime con is like it’s more of like true crime thing, you know, like people telling their true crime stories, their stories about serial killers and murderers. So it’s definitely like more of a true crime thing. So tell me how you fit into that true crime scene.
Spencer Coursen 4:37
That is a true crime. But isn’t that the interesting thing about true crime is I so I think one of the things in my book I talk about how like awareness plus preparation you will safety. And the way I kind of frame the book is by identifying each one of these quote unquote, like safety traps that we all fall into avoidance, complacency, overconfidence, false equivalence, what have you And each one is starts off with an anecdote. Here’s what happened. Here’s how was allowed to happen. And then here’s like five things that you can do to keep it from happening to you. But I think one of the reasons so many of us find true crime stories and murder mysteries and those kinds of things so fascinating is because even though the likelihood of those things happening to us is so low, we’re still fascinated by Well, what were the printed indicators? What were the warning signs, but you know, when you’re watching like a horror movie, and like the coeds in the kitchen, and then the bad guy comes in through the, through the back door, and instead of running out the door that was right behind her, she, like runs up the steps to like, hide her her parents bed
KELLI BRINK 5:39
screaming at the TV like, right. So it’s like, we
Spencer Coursen 5:43
kind of think like, well, listen, like the likelihood of this happening to me is very low. But maybe, just maybe if I learn how she got herself into trouble, I can use those same protective takeaways to keep that bad thing from happening to me.
KELLI BRINK 5:56
Yeah, I totally agree with that. And that that’s part of my fascination with True Crime right there.
Spencer Coursen 6:01
Yeah. And so try, like true crime, documentaries, or stories or podcasts. It’s all about exploring. Yeah, because we’re fascinated by those things that we’re most interested in, but experienced the least. And so much of safety is preparedness. It’s because like, we’re not, we’re never fearful of the things we’re prepared to handle. No one fears that which they know well, but we don’t mind being a little bit afraid of something. Because if we’re afraid of something, that means we’re prepared to deal with it. Like everyone’s a little bit afraid when they drive, but they’re prepared to handle those risks because they know how to use their mirrors, turn driving, maneuver the car effectively. But if you put that same person all into a NASCAR race car and told them that they had to go 200 miles an hour around the track, that’s on a 15 degree pitch, their heart rate is going to go through the roof, their first time around the track because they’re not stressed inoculated into that scenario, even though it’s very similar to like the mechanics of the car, no different than they otherwise would be our own personal vehicle.
KELLI BRINK 7:00
And it’s it’s kind of exhilarating to, you know, that’s why people are adrenaline junkies, whether it’s, you know, the thrill of a haunted house at Halloween, or bungee jumping, or just a scary True Crime Story. It’s exciting.
Spencer Coursen 7:15
But here’s the thing you put that person in the driver’s seat of that that rally car first time to go around and track their heart rate is gonna be like 160 degrees, you’re gonna think they just like you know, did a freaking cardio kickbox class second time around the track, probably about the same, but the 15th time around the track. Now they’ve got the feel for it. Now they’re more comfortable 100th time around the track, probably half of what it was the 10,000th time around the track, like you and me sitting here. No different whatsoever.
KELLI BRINK 7:41
You get like desensitized to the shock value of things like that after a while. Yeah, kind of like people get desensitized to the violence and a true crime story. You just get used to something and it’s like, yeah, not a big deal. Okay, so one thing you are good at is like looking at a situation, assessing where it kind of went wrong or fell apart. And then what you would do differently to make the outcome different. You do that in your book, and you did that onstage at crime con in your practical tactical sessions. So I want to look at this case that I find interesting. I’ve covered it in true crime IRL, I covered it in Episode 18. And it’s kind of a nationally known case Molly Tibbets. So just to familiarize you with that, Molly in the summer of 2018, she was a runner, she was running and she got murdered by someone who was kind of like stalking her and following her around unfortunately, she would not be found for five weeks. And when she was found she was found dead in a cornfield. So if people want to listen to the episode, they can, like I said, go back to Episode 18. I go into a little more detail about the case. But you can Google the case and see everything you need to know. But I just am like as a woman who is on the go a lot alone. I worry about stuff like this. Like I worry about keeping myself safe. I worry about being out at night or in an isolated area. And I don’t want to end up like Molly did as bad as that sounds like what can you suggest? What advice can you give us to not be a victim like in the Molly Tibbets case?
Spencer Coursen 9:35
Okay, had he was that the first time? What did how did he know her?
KELLI BRINK 9:39
He did not know her he lived in he was a migrant worker like a farm. But he
Spencer Coursen 9:45
had seen her running before.
KELLI BRINK 9:47
I would assume so. Yeah. He thought she was hot. Yeah. Now let’s hear from our sponsors. If you haven’t heard heard about anchor by Spotify. It’s the easiest way to make a podcast with everything you need all in one place. Let me explain. Anchor has tools that allow you to record and edit your podcast right from your phone or computer. When hosting on Anchor, you can distribute your podcast on listening platforms like Spotify, Apple podcasts, and more. It’s everything you need to make a podcast all in one place. And best of all, anchor is totally free, download the anchor app or go to anchor.fm to get started.
Spencer Coursen 10:38
So that I mean, that’s always how it happens though, right? There’s someone recently seen in like, in Silence of the Lambs, he’s like, you know, what do we cover what we see every day, if you don’t know about it, you don’t know you want it. But he’s a migrant worker. And he’s and I don’t know the specifics of this particular case, but if he was like a day work, or somewhere in everyday saw her run by and like, kept looking forward to it every day. And then, like, you know, those people, and we’ve all done it, whether it’s like in high school or college, where it’s like, you know, that like that the hot person in class or whatever, like walks past their locker at a certain time. So you’ve made sure that you walk past your great, that’s fine when it’s like the innocent types of you’re learning how to court, right? And you’re learning how to flirt and you’re like the sexual dynamics of teens and you don’t really know what you’re doing and everyone’s feeling each other out. And that’s when that’s appropriate. When that starts spilling over into like the adult world. That’s called stalking.
KELLI BRINK 11:37
Is it really though?
Spencer Coursen 11:38
Yes. Oh, come on. No, but here’s the thing is that, let’s say that I go to Whole Foods at like five o’clock on a Saturday after the gym. And there is just this absolutely gorgeous girl at Whole Foods that time. You know, maybe she was working a Whole Foods and I go and then the next day at five o’clock to see if she’s there, and she’s not right.
KELLI BRINK 12:06
You can’t I mean, that’s stalking
Spencer Coursen 12:08
know that. So that’s, so that’s like a like a, you are now so infatuated with someone that you don’t even know that you’re going to change up your own personal routine, just for the chance to see someone. Okay, so we talked about the baseline of behavioral anomalies, that would be like a level one, right? Level one stalking, I call it like a level one anomaly. Right? Like it’s not a crash. So crushes are different crushes are like someone that like every time you see that person, but you’re not going out of your way to see that person. If you have the choice to see one person or another person you may choose, but it’s like, but you you may have always gone shopping. Two o’clock. And on that one particular day, when you were coming home from the gym and realize that you were out of like, salad mix for dinner that night, you went in at five o’clock, and now you’re willing to reprioritize your entire life’s agenda in the off chance that you might get to see someone, then if that gets if you do get to see that someone in that practice is reinforced. How far are you going to take that right? Because this person does not know who you are? This person has no clue that you know, I mean, there’s now is it one of those things where if you’re out at a bar and you make eye contact with someone, right, and then you make eye contact again, go up and say hi to that person because like they obviously want comedian. And even if it’s like just like a friendly hello, how are you? My name is so and so or blah, blah, blah, like and they like it doesn’t need to turn into something. But that’s an appropriate dynamic. What would not be an appropriate dynamic is to constantly circle around the bar over and over. Even just like now just start staring at them hoping that they’ll look back at you. Right? Like that is not appropriate. I
KELLI BRINK 13:51
know. But there’s such a fine line between flirting and
Spencer Coursen 13:57
flirting is a two way street. Okay? Flirting is I’m looking at you. I’m acknowledging your existence. You’re looking at me acknowledging my existence. And then it either passes or someone gets infatuated. When someone gets infatuated. When when when that infatuation becomes a one way street, you’re on what could be a very slippery slope. And what I’m saying in this particular case, it sounds like is this guy saw her was infatuated by her then basically coveted her every day seeing her run by became obsessed started having fantasies about it. But what if she didn’t meet me? What if? What wouldn’t you think it’s charming. And here’s the thing is that like, the movies we watch, and the TV shows, we watch they kind of champion stalking, as cute,
KELLI BRINK 14:42
they reinforce a yeah, they reinforce
Spencer Coursen 14:45
bad behaviors in men. And so that’s what gets championed as like the, you know, the
KELLI BRINK 14:51
whatever that thing is, though, those are the movies that women swoon over and that they just are like, Oh, I just want
Spencer Coursen 14:58
that or what Women want is to be the priority. And there’s a fine
KELLI BRINK 15:02
line between being the priority and being the sole focus and completely obsession.
Spencer Coursen 15:08
Yeah. And this is like how almost every case of like intimate partner violence or not so much talking but definitely in intimate partner bonds. Well, it starts it starts off with this, like, over infatuation love bombing, and quickly turns to controlling, right? Yes. It’s like, I want you I want you. I want you I need you. I need you. Now I have to have you and I need to control everything that you’re doing. Because I’m so terrified of losing you that I don’t know what I was doing. And it’s like, that’s not the healthy emotional dynamic.
KELLI BRINK 15:40
It’s not I’m glad we’re talking about this.
Spencer Coursen 15:43
I’m sorry. So we got off on a tangent about Molly.
KELLI BRINK 15:46
So she was like, I’m gonna call 911 Leave me alone. Get away. Yeah. Okay. Never threatened to
Spencer Coursen 15:53
punch someone in the face. Just punched them in the face. Remember, like when we’re doing that in the in the session today? I was like, you don’t? Yeah, I’ve got a look at notes right here. Yeah. Pull it out. Now. No, seriously, I’m gonna pull it out. Like dogs bark, right? But they never bark what while they’re biting and there’s a difference between like when a dog is barking the dog is like, Hey, I’m just letting you know I’m here posturing but then the dog will start to grow and the ground is pretty much you might get one you might get two you’re not getting three at least with my dog. But it’s you’re either gonna be very fast in the attack or you’re gonna be very fast in the retreat, but you do not want to be slow in the negotiation like when your life is on the line that is not when you play lawyer
KELLI BRINK 16:32
so we weren’t in Molly’s shoes we cannot judge or anything we don’t even know what happened exactly but so instead of saying we know she was
Spencer Coursen 16:41
we don’t know what what she’s gonna happen but it is 100% remember like when we said like just changing up your routine to meet someone would be like a level one anomaly stopping your car on the middle of a deserted road getting out and then jogging alongside someone who you don’t know right? But here’s the problem is that in their head they know them very well. Right and we see this with like celebrity stalking all the time because like and I even have like a whole section in my book about it where there’s
KELLI BRINK 17:08
my home once a week on TV. I know them I know everything about them.
Spencer Coursen 17:12
Right and right. I know a lot about Joe Rogan. Yeah, right. What listen to his podcast, watched Fear Factor. Love the way he commentates like UFC fights, how he likes to work out like there’s like hundreds of 1000s of hours of like Joe Rogan footage out there. How many times spent a portion has been a blip on Joe Rogan’s radar zero effing times zero.
KELLI BRINK 17:36
So someone who is in Molly’s position, warning him he really didn’t have any right to be warned when he was like already at that point got out of his car was running alongside of her. Really, you should just not worry and just call 911 don’t like
Spencer Coursen 17:51
that. So in my book I have one of the safety traps is being too polite. Yes, I love that. Because it really drives home this, you know, and I think it’s different. Like boys are kind of brought up to be like it’s okay to be the aggressor. That’s how we know you’re a man. Right? Exactly be the alpha take charge. You know, sometimes leadership means you have to be mean like it’s okay be take charge be in charge. When in charge. Women are sometimes socialized into, or at least women more than men are socialized into be complacent, be compliant, be polite, go along to get along. And so but when your life is on the line, your willingness to defend yourself should always be greater than your unwillingness to offend another and sometimes that’s just a matter of being disagreeable. But it’s all about giving someone a yes. Which is a no to you is a red flag. You should always be more willing to defend yourself and you’re unwilling to offend another and who cares if you offend a fellow. Walk away. That’s your power.
KELLI BRINK 18:53
I love that. I love that. And I agree there are so many true crime podcasts that talk about the exact same thing like be weird and be vocal and stay alive. Basically, don’t worry about offending someone when it comes to your safety. So yeah, I love that. Okay, maybe this is a little weird and random. But I want to talk about dating and dating apps and kind of like what advice you would have for a woman who is single, like getting out there dating? Maybe it’s a blind date, someone she’s never met before? How can I stay safe fight aside to meet that cool Tinder date that I was talking to online? What do I do? How do I stay safe with that? Because there’s really no vetting process when it comes to dating apps and stuff like maybe they upload their driver’s license or something but there’s no sort of like in person vetting process and that can be problematic. So what do you think
Spencer Coursen 19:57
if you are a woman here’s here’s how you You will know if someone’s interested in you. If someone says, Hey, we should hang out sometime they’re not interested yet, or they want you to, or they want you to send them selfies. Never ever, ever send a selfie through a dating app. Never send a selfie to someone that you’ve never met, not just the data, the data in the picture, but like that person hasn’t earned your trust. If someone is interested, whether whether it’s someone that you meet in a bar or someone you meet online, or someone that you’re met on a dating app, or some friend of a friend says, Hey, I think you might like this guy. Let me connect you or something. If someone’s interested, truly interested. A man will make a plan. Hey, I have reservations for sushi on Saturday at seven o’clock. Would you like to join me? But yes, I’m sorry. That’s what men do. Boys go? Well, yeah, we should we should hang out sometime. I do not want to hang out like with you and five of your friends. Okay, at a bar where you’re going to do shots and throw up on your shoes. Okay, we can go Dutch for dinner. I’m not like you should be no. That’s another thing. Like, just because like a guy buys you dinner doesn’t mean you owe him anything. Okay? Like there is no expectation, your expectation is that like, this is something that I would like to do. I’m inviting you to join me if you would like to come great. If not, I’m going to ask someone else. But you get apps like know your own value, the more you allow someone and I’m speaking as someone who’s like consulting, this advice is for women, but the more you allow a guy to string you along the more he devalues you if you just say hey, I don’t do hangouts Be a man make a plan. I swear to God, he’s gonna come back to you with a with a plan of action to like, wow, you off your feet, even if it’s like it doesn’t need to be like a five star like grandiose like red flower candy and chocolate dinner. It can be like, Hey, do you want to meet at the Starbucks at fifth and Chavez after work on Tuesday, it can be innocent, it can be something that in fact, your first encounter should be something that’s like public and not locked in.
KELLI BRINK 21:46
Okay, so let’s say two people make a plan and they decide to meet up or whatever. Should I tell my family and friends where I’m going? I mean, I should definitely make it public. Should I tell my family and friends the location and make sure someone knows the plan and all of that it should
Spencer Coursen 22:05
be somewhere in public. Your first your first time hanging out shouldn’t be a hike in the woods. But like, there’s there’s nothing that was like FaceTiming. Someone you mean like well, you know, it’s like, what’s have our first Hank, let’s have our first time meeting just be a FaceTime or yeah, just have a virtual like hangout. You don’t I mean, I want to see your place. Does he have roommates? Does he have a dog? Like what’s this place look like? Is it creepy as it is like, No, you know, I’m not comfortable doing that? Well, then I’m not comfortable meeting you. So so many of my friends who were who like started dating someone they were and they were like, they have a standard. They have a set expectation and then they start negotiating against themselves because they don’t want to reinvest the effort, right. Like I had a friend who started dating Swanee, when she was like, 28. She’s like, well, we’re not I’m not engaged by 30. I’m breaking up with. She’s 33 They’re still together, he’s still not engaged. You know why? Cuz he doesn’t have to.
KELLI BRINK 22:50
Okay, so let’s talk about some more of the things you have in the works right now, some of the stuff you’ve got going on and that you would like to talk about?
Spencer Coursen 23:00
Yeah, so So I have the book, the business is Corson security group, we so one of the reasons I wrote the book was that when I was one of the reasons that I started my business was that when I was working for this consulting firm out in Los Angeles, which at the time was considered to be the Secret Service of the private sector, I was protecting CEOs, actors, entertainers, athletes, models, what have you. And then the tragedy at Sandy Hook happened. And both of my parents were teachers, family and friends who still teach and when so many of your family and friends are reaching out to you for help you want to do everything you can to help keep them protected? Is this going to happen to us, what is our school going to do is this, they’re going to copycats like Everyone was freaked out. And what I really realized in that moment was that while not everyone will know the luxury of having their own protective detail, every single one of us deserves to be protected. So what I really wanted to do was take that skill set of mine, which was being employed by the top 1% and make it available for the other 99%. And so I started like writing more articles and started putting out white papers. And here’s how to look at this. And this is why this is that and the book ultimately grew as an extension of that because whilst not everyone will be able to afford the retainer of someone like me, you also don’t need someone like me, most people, all they really need to keep themselves protected is to have just a practical, honest outlook about what their real vulnerabilities are so that they can put the most practical and most effective safeguards in place. Most people don’t need a security detail to move them from point A to point B or to have a residential security team patrolling their house what they need is a ring cam doorbell and an electronic lock for their front door so that’s closed equals locked because 85% of home invasions are the result of bad guys coming through the front door. You don’t necessarily need to Spencer Corson don’t even can’t afford Spencer course but you know you can afford $25 for 365 pages of productivity strategy to help you live your very best life the safest way possible. And so I have a podcast where I basically do something very similar to what we’re talking about right now, and which is very similar to how the book is set up. Here’s what happened, here’s how it’s allowed to happen. Here’s how you can keep it from happening to you. And then of course, I also have just conversations with other professionals in the security industry, or who are involved with domestic wound support groups, or who are involved in crisis management teams, just so that you can tune in once a week for 2030 minutes and have a real protective takeaway that can help you to ensure the certainty of of your safety. What’s your podcast, its course it’s corner protective strategy podcast to help you succeed in staying safe. And all of it is just an extension of that. Where can people buy the book? The book is available wherever your favorite books are sold, you can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble target, you can go you can go to the safety drop.com And I have all the links right there at the top of the page. Yeah, my Instagram is at a stock Corson the safety trap also has its own Instagram page at the safety trap. And yeah, safe safety trap.com course and security group.com If you Google me, I’m Spencer Corson the actor you know, you can you can save 1000 lives you can rescue a million people from despair. But if you have one IMDb and Trey, you’re forever an actor. And because when I was consulting on the Zero Dark 30 movie, when they were filming the movie, there was an actual dog on the raid on the real raid but the SEAL teams used and so they had an actor and a dog training in LA for the movie rope. When the dog came to fly over to Jordan. It didn’t have like the right shots. So the dog got sent back. So we’re sitting there in the Childline one day and Kathryn Bigelow, the director comes up to me says Spencer you in the army, right? Yes, ma’am. How are you with dogs left dogs? Great. You’re my canine too. So they had already filmed like some of the like Navy SEAL red stuff. So anytime you see the dog, like jumping onto the helicopter or jumping off the helicopter or walking by the compound, the guy at the other end of that leashes, me and so as a result of that I wind up getting life like three credits on a Zero Dark 30 movie like once as a military advisor once a security consultant once as a operator dev crew.
KELLI BRINK 27:07
Was it a German Shepherd?
Spencer Coursen 27:10
It was Yeah, yeah. It’s a Jordanian farm dog. Oh, wow. That we put a tactical vest on.
KELLI BRINK 27:21
Spencer, thank you so much for coming on my podcast. I appreciate it. And I have had a blast getting to know you and hanging out with you this weekend. And yeah, I just really enjoyed your sessions this year at crime con, and I cannot wait to see what you do next year at crime con
Spencer Coursen 27:41
Kelli, thank you so much. This was great. True pleasure. I’m so glad we got finally got to meet at crime con. I’m sorry, I did not have a plan for how we were going to be at crime con. I just did not know exactly what the schedule was gonna look like. But I did know for sure we were both going to be here.
KELLI BRINK 27:57
And I’m glad it worked out. Thank you again.
So that was my interview with Spencer Coursen from Coursen security group and author of the safety trap. If you’re looking for something for Dad, like maybe for Father’s Day, the safety trap will honestly be the perfect gift. He will love it. And it’s honestly a great gift for anyone wanting professional insight into how they can make their lives a little bit safer. And I think we can all agree that we could all use a little help in that department. Be sure to follow true crime IRL on all the socials instagram facebook, twitter at True Crime IRL all one word and go to true crime irl.com For more info and to check out my new merch That’s right, I wore some sweet merch at crime con and a lot of people were wanting to buy it there. Sorry, didn’t have it. But it’s on the website now. So now you can so go do that. Go do it right now. And please be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts and leave me a five star review helps a lot and I really appreciate you this has been true crime IRL and I’m your host Kelli barons break and until next time, do what Spencer Corson and I would tell you to do and lock your doors people. Most of you don’t. I know it. We know it. We all know it but just do it. Lock those doors. Lock them. Bye bye
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