Bill Stanton, popularly known as “Wild Bill,” is a New York City-based private investigator and safety expert who has dedicated his life to teaching others survival techniques for mass shootings, child abductions, and theft, among other things.
Stanton’s career started when he became a New York City police officer at 20. He says he was the youngest officer in the city at the time and was assigned to a high-crime Bronx precinct.
“I could arrest you for under-age drinking but I could not have a beer myself.” he joked to NextShark. “Not a week went by where we did not respond to a man with a gun and where bullets were not flying in that precinct.”
In 1987, four years after he began his police career, Stanton was involved in a career-ending injury. He severed the nerves and tendons in his hand in a fall that resulted from chasing a suspect.
From there, Stanton says he decided to start taking various courses to hone his skills for self-defense, survival, and protection of others. Eventually, he says he began working as a personal bodyguard for high-asset families from both the U.S. and overseas. During this time, he also worked as a nightclub bouncer and hobnobbed with celebrities and city power players.
Since then, Stanton has reinvented himself and has appeared on multiple network news show segments about crime and safety. He’s also gone on to launch a successful private eye agency.
Part of Stanton’s passion for making the public aware of safety and self-defense techniques comes from his own frustration at what he sees as inadequacies in how people prepare for potentially dangerous situations.
“I go to the airport and see people dressed as if they are hanging out in their backyard. People dress in skin-tight clothes wearing flip-flops. God forbid if you had to take evasive action whether it be natural or man-made like a terrorist. If you have to move — and you are not moving in flip flops — you need to dress for action.
“You can go on YouTube and see a lot of stuff that I have done. I’ve gone into the middle of a town square where I will kidnap a kid in broad daylight where that kid is screaming for help and screaming, ‘He’s not my dad!’ and people will do nothing. They will not take that second look because they are too much into their own agenda. I’ve broken into homes and you’ll see their neighbor mowing their lawn and talking on their cell phone. It becomes the point of ridiculousness.”
When it comes to disasters, Stanton says people fall into three different categories: sheeps, ostriches, and lions.
“The sheep is the most likely person to get hurt or mugged in an accident. Why? Because they are just following the crowd. If nothing happens to them, then they are just lucky because they are playing the numbers game. When you have a herd of sheep, the wolves will prey on the weakest. So it may not be your day today but eventually if you keep acting like a sheep you will get nabbed.
“The ostrich actually knows what is going on, but they stick their head in the sand. They choose not to take action. They choose to look the other way. And, eventually, trouble finds them too.
“The rarest is the lion. They’re the ones who are proactive. They’re the ones who call 911, help someone out, or fight and protect themselves if they really need to.
“So, people fall into those categories. Sometimes someone is a sheep but they can step up and become a lion. I try to bring out the inner lion in everyone.”
Stanton says most people he sees in public are mainly interested in either their phone or having fun. One of the biggest things that Stanton does when he goes out in public is immediately scan the room for people for potential danger.
“When I walk into a room I’m looking at everyone. Profile has now become a ‘dirty’ word and it doesn’t deserve to be. If you are only doing a profile on someone’s race and you start and stop there then that is prejudicial in my opinion. But, race, creed, color, age, etcetera, come into play when you are making a general profile.
“If you do a profile of every terrorist in this country that has taken action against America, they will probably be Middle Eastern, about 5’8”, mid 20s, dark hair. They fit a certain profile that has been happening. I’m using math, not prejudice. People should not be inherently fearful of Muslim people — that’s ridiculous. People should be wary of bad people, period, end of sentence. Now here’s the problem: bad people do not always walk around with a ball cap or T-shirt that says, ‘I am a bad guy.’
“Three years ago you were paying more for car insurance than you are today. Do you know why? You pay more when you are under 25 because people drive more reckless so car insurance companies are allowed to charge more. It’s all based on math and statistics. Females and elderly people get charged different rates. Just like in healthcare, they ask you if you smoke, how much do you weigh. All that comes into play. It’s statistics, not prejudice.”
Stanton breaks down what does to keep himself safe and prepare for disasters when he’s out in public:
“The first moment I walk into a room, I look for my alternate exit other than the obvious in case anything goes down. People will be running for the main exit — I will be going the other way. For example, at a movie theater, if someone yells fire everyone runs to the place where they came in at the back of the theater. I run to the front because if you look in front there is always an emergency exit and it leads you off to the other end of the movie theater.
“I carry my cash in one pocket and my wallet in the other pocket because if I get pick-pocketed they are not going to get both. I carry a pen knife and use it as my money clip and I cannot tell you how many times that has come to help me. For example, if you were stuck in your seat belt in an accident, it could save your life.
“I don’t park my car with everyone else when I park my car. I park it as far away from everyone else so no one can come up on me. I park directly under a light so when I’m walking up on my car I have a full view.”
When asked to give out some other life hacks for survival, Stanton advised:
“Most professional thieves strike during thunderstorms. Do you know why? because it sets off the alarms in people’s homes and it sets off false positives. The cops may be spread too thin to respond and what actually happened in my community.
“I never let me car go below half a tank. In case anything happens and you need to get out of town, and everyone else is getting gas, you’re already prepared.”
Stanton has been asked to be on a variety of news segments to talk about surviving mass shootings.
“Situational awareness is where you and I are in a setting and we hear gunfire. You could have your headphones on and think it is firecrackers, whereas my situational awareness is going to tell me it’s gunfire.
“Once you make that assessment that there is an active shooter, the first thing you want to do is get out of there. Have an exit plan. If you can’t exit, then find a secure place to hide.
“Once you’re secure, you want to bring as much attention to that situation as quietly as you can. If you can get out the window and drop down: do it, get the fuck out. If you can’t, try to set off the fire alarm, call 911. Shut off the lights. While you’re doing that, make a plan in case you have to fight for your life. Channel that inner MacGyver. Find anything you can make a weapon out of and defend yourself.”
While Stanton urges people to be more aware of their surroundings, he stresses that it doesn’t mean he wants everyone to live in fear and paranoia.
“Statistically when it comes to terrorism, you have nothing to worry about. You go to a public place, have a great time, just don’t go in blind. The odds are, like this poor schmuck — I think it happened in California — the guy and his son were walking from a football game and he was wearing the wrong jersey and he he got beaten almost to death. He has brain damage. Because the guy was drunk, he was wearing the other team’s jersey and he almost got beaten to death. The odds are something like that is going to happen more than terrorism.”
Check out Bill Stanton’s work here.