27 June 2015

Church Shooting- the armed response

There have been many church shootings in the past and unfortunately there will be more.  Attacking people at a place of worship is a nobrainer for any idiot who wants to kill people.  I mean you advertise exactly what time you will be with your family, in a large group of people, in a wide open space, with money in your pockets, facing away from the door.

Over the years, I have visited several churches, and spoken to even more people on the phone and online about security at their church.  Often people get stuck on typical security things like doors and windows.  That's fine and should be of course included, but the hand wringing usually starts when I ask if they have an armed response in place during services.

If you consider yourself a Christian there are two sides to this.  The first is that you should be prepared to die for your belief.  The second is that there is a responsibility to protect the innocent.

In reality, the shooter or shooters is probably not going to go to people one by one and ask you about your faith.  They will be too busy killing women, children, and old people as fast as they can.

As stupid as it sounds, I have heard cops and CCW holders who don't carry when they go to church because....well....they are going to church.

Having been a huge fan of Col Grossman, long before the whole Sheepdog thing was coopted by anyone who wanted to cash in, this really comes down to the Sheepdog idea.

Few things are a better example of this country than people being able to gather and worship as they please.  Those among us who have it in our heart to run towards the gunfire need to be prepared to protect the flock.

If you live in a state with CCW, there are going to be three types of responses by armed parrisioners:  no response, an individual response, or a team response. Now is the time to talk to your pastor, church elders, and other Sheepdogs you have identifed to come up with a plan for when this happens at your church.  Stay Safe and God Bless.- George

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09 June 2015

How do you respond to getting yelled at?

The other night I had some friends over the house and at the end of the night only one was left.  I could tell he was sticking around because he wanted to talk to me in private.  He works high end physical security.  He confided in me that although he felt competent with his firearms, and a little less so with his open hand skills, he felt he was severely lacking when it came to dealing with confrontations that can often lead to using force. 

He is not alone.  As the saying goes, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.  The truth is a large majority of people can be controlled with verbal commands.  That is why they are so emphasized in police training.  Basically, it is just a verbal flash bang.  It, along with interpersonal communication skills, are the missing links in an integrated training system.  Consideration needs to be given to both being the person yelling and the person getting yelled at.

Rarely will you see physical confrontation without yelling.  In our minds, yelling provokes an immediate response that can range from looking to identify where it is coming from to an adrenaline dump depending on how far you are away from the source.

Unless you live or work in the hood, the only people that are used to getting yelled at using the tones that often turn violent are correction officers, police officers, and bouncers.

People yell and posture for the same reason that dogs bark.  They intuitively know that it will cause threats to back down.
Whether it is a precursor to an assault or robbery, the attacker yelling often has a fatal effect.  It causes people to freeze and stop moving.  Moving is key to survival.  Standing still also increases tunnel vision.  Key to dealing with this reaction and the adrenaline dump that comes from someone yelling at you in a threatening manner is to make a habit of continuing to move.  

When bouncing and verbally engaged with someone, if I get the feeling it is going sideways, I bring my hands together in the middle of my chest and rock back and forth and side to side.  This allows me to respond or strike faster than if I just stood still.  It also allows me to move to the outside of the person I am dealing with, often without them responding as if I had been standing still and then continued to move.  They subconsciously become used to your movement.

A very common mistake made by officers and bouncers to yell at people instead of giving simple commands.  They often get into a yelling match with people.  Key to deescalation, if it is possible, is to talk lower and slower than the person you are dealing with.  If they begin to match your tone, there is a good chance that you will be able to deescalate them without having to use physical force.  For verbal commands to be effective, they need to be much louder than the baseline of the noise in the environment.  This can be difficult in a bar or other type of crowd.   Hands down my most often used and effective verbal command in police work and as a bouncer is “GET BACK”.  As a personal rule, if someone is close enough for me to touch, the command is accompanied with a one or two hand panic push.  This is a great way to check their dedication.  If they stay back either to the command alone or accompanied by the push, I seldom have to go hands on with them.  If they come forward again, then they need to be dealt with.
There are basically three ranges of contact when it comes to confrontation.  Yelling range is usually around 7 yards, unless you are the person  creating the distance.  The next distance is their arm or leg plus the length of an edged or impact weapon.  Lastly, there is open hand contact distance.  This of course excludes firearms.

At yelling distance, you need to be concentrating on your movement and putting a physical barrier between you, such as a vehicle or furniture.  This forces them to overcome that obstacle to use impact, edged, or personal weapons such as a fist. 

An interesting phenomenon is when someone starts off at yelling distance and the person they are yelling at either stands still allowing them to walk up to them, or even more strangely the “victim” closes the distance as well.  This is called getting sucked in.  Often an attack will occur from either person as they get within arm’s reach.

So here are the takeaways, unless you are paid to put your hands on people. If someone yells at you, keep on moving, hopefully out of the area.  The longer they yell at you the closer they will likely get, and the closer they get the less options you have for anything other than physical contact.  Don’t get sucked in.  Go through scenarios that have occurred or can occur over and over in your head.  This greatly increases the chance your response will be appropriate in real life.

29 April 2015

Talking points about Baltimore and policing from a retired MD cop

First off, I need to explain my history with the City of Baltimore.  After getting out of the Army after being the 523rd Military Police Company on Aberdeen Proving Grounds, my first civilian job was at the Union Memorial Hospital just down the street from Greenmount & North Ave where much of the violence took place.  

After three years at Union Memorial, I was hired by the Baltimore City School Police and attended the Baltimore Police Academy  Class 97-2.  After two years with BSP, I lateraled to the Aberdeen Police Department, about 45 minutes North up 95.

Both of my mentors, one for all things tactical and the other for investigations, were Baltimore City cops, as were many coworkers and friends.  Every police department in Maryland is heavily influenced by Baltimore City Police and Maryland State Police.  The reason being that when bosses retire from those two agencies they usually take positions as chiefs and sheriffs through out the state.

With this said, I would have to say that my police style was more Baltimore City than State Police.  Now here are my points-

Burning down where you live- the riots in Baltimore received world wide coverage.  The reason given was oppression by the police who are the agents of the government which the average person is most likely to interact with.  If their issue was with the police and the government, why were not government buildings attacked?  Because of the same reason that in a city full of criminals and illegal firearms nobody shot at the police.  The people involved were not interested in any civil insurrection or bringing attention to police brutality, they were interested in looting for free clothes, booze, drugs, food, and major appliances.  Had government buildings been attacked or police fired upon, you would have seen a very different reaction with people on both sides killed.  Instead, they largely stayed in their own communities to loot and burn.  Whatever they were trying to prove lost all credibility.

Freddie Gray, the man that sparked it all-  What we know is that he ran from police, was caught, handcuffed, and drug into a wagon for transport.  At some point he went into respiratory distress and was refused medical attention.  He slipped into a coma only to die seven days later.  Autopsy revealed that his spine was severed, but there was no other trauma to the body.

People run from the police for three reasons; 1- they are committing a crime 2- they are in the possession of contraband 3- they believe they have a warrant.  Number 3 seems the most probable here.  By all accounts Gray was just sitting on the stoop.  Doubtful he had drugs on him since by looking at his arrest record he was way above being a "corner boy" and was more into the production and distribution end, meaning if anything he was the money man and would not hold drugs.  Also looking at his arrest record, it looks like he had a drug arrest in December 2014 that was supposed to go to court in May.  In my opinion, he probably thought he had a failure to appear bench warrant for missing a preliminary hearing.

Based on my knowledge of police training and anatomy, here is what I believe happened.  In the video you can see police on top of Gray and he is screaming.  Although they are trained to avoid injuring the suspect, it is not uncommon for an officer to kneel on the neck of a suspect.  Believe it or not a healthy neck is pretty robust and it would be hard to injure by just pressing down at a 90% angle.  But if you have a neck that is already injured and an officer fell or jumped on that suspect's neck with his knee at a 45 degree angle towards the head, it could possible cause a detachment at the brain stem.  Like I said, I think that will turn out to be the case here.

On 01MAY15 the Baltimore Police Department is going to release the results of their internal investigation to the States Attorney's Office who will conduct their own investigation and decide if the officers will be charged.  So, those looking for answers on the 1st are going to be very unhappy.

People without understanding of what it takes to charge someone with 1st Degree Murder want all six officers to receive that charge. For that to occur, the case would have to basically be made that all six of the officers conspired before hand to kill Gray, tracked him down, and then executed him.  If any officers are charged, it will be one or two of them and the charge will be manslaughter.

Juvenile vs Adult Arrests-  the media wants you to believe that the reason police allowed the rioting to go on was that it involved mostly juveniles....that is bullshit.  The original show of force by city police was ant Mondawmin Mall in response to a juvenile issue.  Of the approximately 250 arrests made during the night of the riots, about 200 were adults and 50 were juvenile.   The reason city police did not use more force was because of orders from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake to "stand down". Some reports go as far as to say that the Mayor put out an order for them to not even wear black gloves so as not to look oppressive on camera.  When outside agencies answered the first calls to assist BPD, many left on arrival after being instructed to not wear riot helmets or carry riot batons.  So, don't believe all that crap about it just being juveniles.

Police training-  for those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you have no doubt heard me rant about the lack of quality officers and realistic training.

The firearms training in the Baltimore Police Academy was top notch.  Beyond that we mostly learned from the war stories of our instructors.  All police and correction training in the state of Maryland is overseen by the Maryland Police & Corrections Training Commission .  On the first day of the academy, you get a big book listing each and every thing that must be covered in your academy to become a certified officer.  During the last week of the academy, we were told to go through and initial next to everything that had not been initialed.  Someone asked how we could do that if we had not covered it.  They said "you'll do it if you want to graduate".

The Freddie Gray incident is different than most police use of force and brutality complaint issues because it does not involve any mechanical force options.  Most issues seem to come from the Taser and shootings.

The real reason that so many people are being Tased and shot is because very often agencies fail to comply with the standard set by the Supreme Court that training be recent, relevant, and realistic.

With some exceptions, much of initial police training involves little to no open hand combatives training being "arrest and control"  no training in arrest out of control.  Police are not pressure tested during physical confrontations.  They don't get punched in the face or have anyone punch them in the face.  Nobody chokes them out. Couple that with the squeaky clean background required to become an officer these days and what you get is someone who has little to no experience with physical violence.  You put that officer on the street, they get scared and they Tase and shoot people at the end of confrontations that started over something small and could have been nipped in the bud with a nightstick or open hand combatives.

If you think it is bad now, just wait a few months or years.  In the wake of Ferguson, good officers are just walking away from the job.  Soon the liberals will get what they want... nothing but Nerds and Turds wearing the blue suit.  Those with out the passion needed to be good police.  They will be there just for the pay check or to pay back those that bullied them in high school.  That is unless Obama gets his way and we have a National Police Force.  This is what is being put in place as the DOJ takes over city police departments one by one.

When I was still an MP my buddy got me a coffee mug for Christmas one year that read "A society that makes enemies out of its police better learn to make friends with criminals"  That is truer now than it was 20 years ago.  God Bless America 

28 April 2015

Killing sacred cows in Indianapolis

My two favorite myths to dispel during classes are that you will have the physical ability to see your sights much less use them within 5-7 yards. The other is the 21 foot "rule", misunderstood because people see it as a gun problem and not a fighting problem. We show you how to survive within 5 feet. Nobody in the class had any previous "knife" training but was able pressure test what was taught against the stun gun with just 3-4 hours of training. If that is how long it takes to learn it imagine how little time you need to practice it on your own with a partner to master it and gain confidence. In the same amount of time they became "masters" of IET, which the hardest part of as it is with the pistol is the ability to deploy it under stress. Once the knife is out, any knife, IET is intuitive, defensive, and defensible. Outstanding crew. Huge thanks to ACT for hosting. I could not be happier with this industry partnership. If you are in Indy these are the guys to go to to learn how to fight with your firearms.

15 April 2015

Why a 73 year old insurance man and reserved deputy was put in a position to kill

The only ones who don't know the answer to why Robert Charles "Bob" Bates was put in a position to accidentally shoot and kill a suspect are those who are not cops.  There is lots of hay being made out of the fact that he had donated thousands of dollars to the Tulsa Sheriff's Office over the years.  For those that are not familiar this is a very common thing in many jurisdictions and states.  More than ever agencies are hurting for money and looking to add money to their coffers from any legal source.  This was the case here.

In many areas affluent business and citizen give agencies money for everything from body armor to new vehicles and mayors, city councils, chiefs, and sheriff's are happy to take it.  Often these agencies have auxiliary and reserve units, that in days gone by...and not so gone by were basically a way for those who were not police to ride around with their buddies who were.  It only makes sense that a fella like Bob Bates who had done so much for the SO would be involved with their reserve program.

Now don't get me wrong, I am friends with and have trained some auxiliary and reserve officers who were better motivated and better trained than the full timers.  In most cases, they had careers that allowed them to make much more money than a police officer does, and came to a time in their lives when they had the time to volunteer for the department and fulfill a life long dream.  The problem is that very often they just want to wear a cop costume to get looked at.  Not surprising since there are lots of full time police that are the same way.  They want to wear the Superman costume but have no interest in fighting crime.  What do they both have in common?  Little to no interest in training, especially if it is physical training.

In my honest opinion, the majority of police excessive force cases could be avoided by two things, punching officers in the face during their interview, and continuing to punch them in the face during training.  Violence is the 800 pound Gorilla in law enforcement.  Sooner or later no matter how old you are, no matter what color you are, you will have to arrest someone who does not want to go.  In the days before OC and Tasers you had two options...use your hands, or use your stick/sap/jack.  This meant that officers were no strangers to violence and did not get flustered when people fought through OC or a Taser went clack clack clack with no visible effect to the suspect.  They did not automatically go to gun, they just hit them again and harder.

It is this lack of inoculation to violence and reliance of things that spit a substance or electricity that causes excessive force.

Back to old Bob.  He was a reserve deputy, but in every agency there are guys like him that should not be carrying a badge much less a Taser or a gun.  These guys are usually thought, called, or considered "goofs'.  They would make a good neighbor, or in this case an insurance salesman, a nice enough guy, but not a cop.  They usually have no interest in firearms or any officer survival related skill sets and stand in the back of the group.  In Bob's case, the bosses would not be very happy if the instructor said something and Bob stopped cutting checks.  But in most cases, they are regular officers who if pushed by an instructor will do one of two things, either fake an injury and cause a loss time injury, which is the death null to a training program, or just call off sick that night because they are sore.

As soon as society and police administrators come to grips with the fact that policing can be violent and the ability to recognize when and how much violence to use early on in a situation will cut down on the injuries to officers and offenders we will be better off.  I am not holding my breath.  Don't Tase me bro.

09 April 2015

NEW COURSE- Parent & Children Protection Course

Course- Parent & Child Protection Course

Course Description- This topical two hour course taught by a retired police officer and experienced dad, is intented to give both the parent and child confidence and peace of mind in their ability to deal with the dangers our society.  The information is delivered in a matter of fact way that is as non threatening as possible while still providing attendees with the skills needed to stay safe.  Through a combination of discussion, scenarios and drills the kids learn the following-

  • What is intuition and why do I need to trust it
  • How do I know if I am being bullied and how to stop it
  • How to use my voice to get help
  • How to spot good guys fast
  • Bathroom safety
  • How to physically get away from someone who is bigger and stronger 
  • What to do if someone gets me in their car
  • How to remember someones description, including their car

This course is intended to be attended by one or both parents and any child between the ages of 7-12.

Please call 717-889-1753 to host this course.