28 October 2014

How a Police Involved Shooting created MCS Part I

Those who know me in person or are familiar with my musings will likely agree that I am.... how would you say it in a nice way...."passionate".  All this self defense stuff is not a hobby for me, it is life and death, especially after a cold winter night in February 2000.

It was the start of a typical wintertime midnight shift, a cold, clear Sunday night.  I was supposed to be off but had been talked into covering for another officer.  The agency's jurisdiction was divided by Interstate 40 in Harford County Maryland, just about smack dab in the middle between Baltimore and Philadelphia.

On the way to the station, as was my habit, I stopped in at WAWA and picked up a cup of coffee.  After putting my key code into the door, I made small talk with the off going shift.  There was nothing much going on.  During a brief roll call I noticed that one of my shift mates Larry only had one spare magazine on his belt.  When questioned about it, he said he had been off since Friday when he had court and it was in his car.  I was not impressed, about that or the fact that even though there was snow on the ground he was wearing those damn ass shiny shoes instead of boots.  Working that night was me, Rick, Jesse, Mark, and Larry.  The first two were corporals and that others officers just like me.

After roll call we all headed out in different directions, no doubt with different things on our mind.  Mine was on Frank, my newborn son who was resting at home after going through his first open heart surgery at Johns Hopkins.  He had died there, but they brought him back and saved him.  I had been off or a while and had not been back to work full time for very long.

I pulled on to the lot of 53 West Bel Air Ave.  A project on the east side of town, my assigned post for the night.  Still sipping on that cup of coffee I heard the radio crack.  "Dispatch-70"..."70"..."Dispatch-70, 10-25 Colonels Choice reference individual failing to pay"..."70, 10-4"...."27 (me), direct".

Just as I was turning onto Rt 40 West I heard "Responding units be advised the patron has now displayed a 10-32 (man with a gun)"  Even  though that was a very common call, I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was different this time.

As I turned onto Carol Ave where the Colonels Choice Restaurant was located on Rt 40, I could see who I believed to be the complaintant leaning into 70's (Mark's) car window.  Mark pulled his car to the side and we both got out of our cars.  The complaintant then walked up to me and said "he ran behind that motel and he has a Dirty Harry gun".  About this time Jesse and Rick were pulling up.  Without saying much, all four of us began to walk across the street towards the hotel.  With frozen snow crunching under our feet, we split into two man teams.  Mark and I were on the left, and Rick and Jesse on the right.  We started to go down the back of the hotel, and Rick and Jesse were about 10 yards from us along a privacy fence.

We could not have walked more than a few yards when I heard Rick yell "show me your hands". At this time I saw the suspect standing behind what at the time I thought was a propane cylinder (turned out to be a water tank) and in his hands I could see a gun silhouetted against the night sky.  But I did not think "gun."  I thought Colt Python because I could see the ventilated rib.  I began to yell 10-32...10-32" and in slow motion he began to bring the gun down into about a 4-6 inch gap between the building and the tank.  Defaulting to my SWAT team training, both Mark and I were members, I had my left hand on Mark's right shoulder with my pistol extended past him.  As the gun came down, Rick fired and his round hit the tank and ricocheted into the building.  I could plainly see the silhouette of my gun between me and the threat when I pulled the trigger.  The suspect then disappeared and all hell broke loose.  I pulled Mark back against that wall so hard it shredded his uniform sleeve.  I had no chance to get on the radio because everyone else was.  As I got back to my car, I could hear more gun fire.  It sounded like a running gun battle.

After I got back to my car, I pulled it up on the shoulder of RT 40 West and popped my trunk to access my Mossberg 590 12 GA.  Before long I was joined by the other officers who said that the suspect had run into a wooded area we were in front of.  By that time it seemed like every cop in the county was coming with blaring sirens.  Before long the State Police helicopter was overhead lighting everything up like a Christmas tree.  At some point I was told we were going in after him.  I made a conscious decision to download my shotgun of the slugs it was loaded with and switch to OO Buck hoping it would fare better in the brush.  Before I knew it, with the helicopter overhead, we were being lead down a dirt road by a K-9 handler from the county who had another female deputy with him. They were followed by Rick, Jesse, me, and Mark.  We cautiously moved down the road which had woods on both sides of it.  I guess we were about 75 yards in when I saw the K-9 Handler turn almost all the way around backwards and yell "drop the gun".  The dog had totally missed the suspect who was laying on the ground about 5 yards to our left.  As I looked all I could see was the muzzle of the gun.  Gunfire once again split the night air, rounds of 40 S&W, 9MM, and two rounds of my OO Buck.  The suspect slouched for a second and then aimed the gun at us again.  In that second, Jesse had begun to move forward of my muzzle and I yanked him back with my left hand with the shotgun still on my shoulder.  Somehow in the same second I managed to fire two more rounds of OO Buck and everyone except for the female fired again.  As a matter of fact she never fired at all. When the dust cleared, she had a flashlight in each hand.  Something in the second volley blew the gun out of his hand.  I would later find out that one of my pellets blew the thumb off his gun hand.  As we all covered him Rick moved around and grabbed the suspect's legs and pulled him out of the bush, away from the gun.  Someone picked up the gun and said "it's a BB gun".  I yelled "fuck, fuck, fuck".

After he was pulled out of the bushes, Rick pulled up the leather and jean jackets he was wearing and bent his legs towards his chest in an attempt to push blood back up into his upper body,  it looked like Daffy Duck when he would get shot by Elmer Fudd and all his blood would pour out.  All the bullet holes began to weep as life slipped away.  The State Police helicopter landed in the middle of RT 40 and the reality of what had happened over the last 15 minutes began to set in.

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24 October 2014

9 things that every Bag Of Evil should contain

So you have selected a bag, or more likely you have figured out that  there is no perfect bag so you switch back and forth between a few based on the needs of the day.  At least this is where I am at.  Over the years items come and items go, but here are some things that always make the cut.  Some are individual items and some are what I call Bricks, basically you can use any pouch the size of a standard brick to organize your things.

Water bottle-  in the warmer months I usually use empty 32 oz Gatorade bottles.  If I am heading to the woods I use my Guyot Designs Stainless Steel Bottle, 32-Ounce  I keep reloads in the Gatorade bottles.  The primary reason is the ability to heat water and food in them.  Not to mention dropping one in a sock to use as a heat rock after boiling it, to cuddle with in my hammock.  That way when you get up you don't have to thaw out water for your coffee.  I also consider a water filter part of this.  Most of the time it is a, Aquamira Frontier Emergency Water Filter System but if I am going to the woods it is my SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier

Headlamp-  this is my primary preparedness light since it frees up both of my hands.  Most recently my Petzl Tikka 2 Plus-Grey came in handy when I had to change a flat along the interstate.  I don't care what other lights you have, you need a headlamp in your bag.

First Aid Brick- contains my TIMS and Boo Boo Kits.  Red paracord zipper pulls.

Power Brick-  contains support equipment for electronics.  USB cord with wall and vehicle adapters for my phone.  Also four AA batteries and four AAA batteries,  Headlamp stored in here as well.  Marked with green paracord zipper pulls.

Repair Brick-    Contains 50 feet of parachute corded wrapped into a fast rope,  50 feet of bank line and a sail needle, 100 MPH tape, bailing wire, and Crazy Glue.  Marked with blue paracord zipper pulls.

Waterproof shell-  clothing is nothing more than 1st line shelter and the foundation for this is a good waterproof shell.  These days because I ride my motorcycle just about every day I am carrying a Harley Davidson rain suit jacket.  Like all my shells I can fit a ton of layers underneath which will keep me warm.  I have several different shells including one from Proper.  The important thing is that it is windproof, waterproof, and breathable.  Buy the best you can afford here.

Gloves-  I use Mechanix Fast-Fit even though most of the time I have leather riding gloves with me as well.

Eye Protection-  this is a no brainer for me me because I wear glasses anyway.  I just have a case to switch out my sunglasses for the regular ones.  Included here is a microfiber cloth and Cat Crap to keep them from fogging up.

Shemagh- most are familiar with the Shemagh these days, basically a large scarf in various colors.  These are so many expedient field uses that I cannot list them all.  Most of the time I wear under my hat when in the sun, and as a scarf in the winter.

You can add or subtract as you wish, but these nine items are in my bag no matter what I am doing or where I am.

Sam is my idol

I first became aware of Col Grossman's Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs analogy around 1991 after graduating the US Army Military Police School.  If I am not mistaken I found Col Grossman through a borrowed copy of Calibre Press' Tactics for Criminal Patrol

Over the years as a soldier, police, bouncer, husband, and father I have thought about what it means to be a Sheepdog.  It is definitely not about the uniform, it is like the Sheepdogs skin and fur, you cannot take it off.  These days more in the post 9/11 tactical subculture have been able read about the whole sheepdog thing.  Many have even started companies to market Sheepdog identifiers from morale patches to sweatshirts.

What strikes me is the many versions of the Sheepdog, some look more like attack dogs.  In 24 hrs I will be turning 42 years old, not old yet, but getting there for someone that makes a living putting their hands on people.  Twenty years ago I might have looked more like the attack dog version of the Sheepdog.  But these days, being more and more dedicated to my family, I see myself as Sam the Sheepdog from Loony Toons.  Sam never moves real quick, much less runs, as a matter of fact he hardly says anything either.  But he is constantly aware of the Wolf.  He does not spend much time barking, which tends to scare the sheep, he simply stands ready to punch the wolf without hesitation every time he catches him up to no good.  So yeah, I am still very much a Sheepdog, it is just that Sam is my idol these days.  No need for him to broadcast to everyone that he is a Sheepdog, those he protects, and those he protects against know who, and what he is.

22 October 2014

Listen to George on the Financial Survival Network "Don't drive into Ferguson"

My most recent interview with Kerry Lutz from FSN.

American Dad Part II- Four items everyone needs to carry

Good to see you came back.  Hopefully you have been looking forward to part two.  As you work on the mindset and training with your family, they will need tools.  I know it might be tempting to get Momma that chest rig she has been eyeing for months, or the kids those A-TACS footie pajamas, but lets start simple.  These simple items can be used to teach signaling, self defense, low light tactics, and first aid.  These are the absolute basics that they need to have with them whenever they are outside the house.

Whistle- whether on a hiking trail or in a dark parking garage, you need to ability to draw attention to yourself as fast as possible.  Nobody even looks anymore when they hear a car alarm, but a the sound of a whistle covers quite a distance and attracts lots of attention.  My goto whistle for years has been the Micro Whistle .  It is small, incredibly loud, and comes in several colors.  Especially with the ladies and kids, getting them a color they like will increase the chance of it being carried.  Let the little ones blow it a few times in the house to get it out of there systems.  Then tell them that they are only supposed to use it in case of an emergency and go over some examples.  Kids get it more than you think they do.  This gave my wife piece of mind when my son got too old to go into the ladies room with her.

Pen- The most fundamental improvised defensive weapon.  For more information about use just apply the same tactics discussed in Project Pencil.  As discussed in Project Pencil, any pen or pencil will do.  I would base how much money I spend on how prone the person is to loosing things.  My favorite inexpensive option is the Zebra F-701 Stainless Steel pen.  It is super tough and writes well.  If you are looking for something of quality that will still not break the bank I would take a look at ProMag Defense Pen .  It is one of my favorites but still inexpensive enough not to have a nervous breakdown if you loose it.  Maybe this would be a good option for you.....the training officer.

Flashlight- Obviously for signaling and all around illumination, many flashlights work well as improvised impact weapons.  Just use the same manual of arms as with the pen or pencil.  Once again you can spend lots of money here, and might do so on yourself.  When my daughter and niece started college a year apart I upgraded both of their lights to the Streamlight Stylus Pro Black .  Super bright and inexpensive batteries, not to mention a pocket clip so it can be carried in the same positions as the pen.  After checking out several AA lights over the past two years I settled on the Olight T25, which is now the Olight ST25 .  This is a light that the wife and kids can have in their bag to back up their Streamlight Stylus.  It is an excellent light with excellent features.  Don't be like some tactical Dad's out there whose family is carrying a cheap light or no light at all while they are carrying a $300 torch that they can heat food with.

Bandana- last and but certainly not least.  I carry an blaze orange bandana behind my wallet at all times.  The primary purpose, besides signaling, is to apply direct pressure to a wound.  Even though it is not ideal, it along with the pen or flashlight can be used to make and improvised tourniquet.  This was why I started carrying it as a young officer.  Just make sure that the one you carry is 100% cotton or it will not absorb anything, much less blood.  I also like to use it as a mental "trigger" when I put it in my pocket to remind myself that bad things happen and I am prepared to deal with them.

Consider picking up a copy of The Gift of Fear and having everyone read it.

With Christmas right around the corner, get them some stocking stuffers they can use or that may just end up saving their life.

21 October 2014

Product Review- Schampa Lightweight Skull Face Mask

Before we started this blog, we were doing product reviews on our website.  Often we took gear originally designed for law enforcement and the military that we thought would be useful to the citizen and explained why.  An extension of this will be riding gear since I know there are readers who still enjoy the outdoors even in the cold.  Clothing is just 1st Line shelter.

Even though I live in southwest Pennsylvania, I ride my 92 Harley Davidson Fatboy year round for two reasons.  The first is that it gets amazing gas mileage and the second is just to prove I am a bad ass.  Just kidding, everyone already knows I am a bad ass.  What is one of the many bad ass things associated with motorcycles....skulls.  The Schampa Lightweight Skull Face Mask ;however is the only skull motorcycle thing I own.

When the weather started to get a little chilly (below 55 degrees for me), I knew it was time to get something to cover my grill, especially since I don't run a windshield.  Since I only wear a half helmet, it is nice to have something to keep the rocks and bugs off my face.

After checking some options out, I settled on the skull mask.  I have to admit that besides the great reviews on Amazon I thought kids in passing cars would get a kick out of it and they do.

The first thing you notice is that the mask is well made.  The sewing is done right and the Velcro is tough but not too rigid.   It is very soft and comfortable on the skin, yet really blocks the wind but allows you to breath.  The bib covers your neck and tucks into my hoodie nicely.  The graphic is high quality and now going on two months of use still looks new.

The thing I like most about the skull mask in comparison to my Schampa Pharaoh is that I don't have to take my helmet on and off to put it on.  This is helpful during short stops like fueling up or grabbing coffee.  Even now that it is chillier and I have the ear/neck insert in my helmet, there is still enough Velcro to still fit around my big head.

The coldest ride I have done with the mask was in 40 degrees at an average speed of 45 miles for about an hour.  That works out to a windchill of around 25 degrees.  Everything the mask covered was cozy.  Everything that was not covered was a bit uncomfortable.  Thus the reason the next day I ordered the Schampa Pharaoh.  I find myself using both of them about every day I ride now.  The Pharaoh in the morning and the skull mask later in the day.  They compliment each other.

The one annoying thing that goes part and parcel when you wear any face mask with eye protection is the annoying fog.  This is especially the case when you first get outside and your glasses are still warm.  I manage this two ways, first of all I uncover my nose until my glasses cool down and I am constantly riding.  I usually do the same at red lights.  The second is using Cat Crap ... yeah, you heard me right, Cat Crap.  After years of trying every snake oil concoction to put on my glasses to make them stop fogging, I heard about Cat Crap and gave it a try.  It is not perfect, but is the best I have ever used.  Your glasses may still fog up a little but the fog dissipates much faster if it does form.   I reapply it about every other day.

So whether you are in need of an inexpensive last minute Halloween costume or just enjoy motor sports in the cooler weather, at $10.49 (Amazon Prime)  give the Schampa Skull Mask a try.