Being Afraid and Being a Cop..

As more and more details of the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida come out, we also hear more about the actions, or inaction, of some of the Broward County Deputies at the scene during the murder response.

First, let me give you some background. I was a Sgt. In the 3rd Infantry Division, 981st Military Police Company. My job was to train security forces that guarded our nation’s nuclear weapons. After leaving the Army I became a Deputy Sheriff in Broward County Florida. I now train law enforcement recruits, people who want to be police officers, and also police officers in firearms and various police topics and tactics for a living. I have been doing so for the last 24+ years. I was a Broward Deputy myself back in the 1980’s and 90’s. I left the Broward Sheriffs’ Office in 1996 when I took a position as a Police Commander at Santa Fe College and took over supervising the Law Enforcement and Corrections Academies. I say all that so you know where I am getting my view and knowledge.

Police officers these days are facing more things that officers’ years ago did not have to face. Terrorism, homegrown radicals, mass murderers and more. Years ago officers in Chicago, New York, and some other large cities faced gangs and organized crime groups armed with machine guns and grenades. Today is not that much different. Today’s police are better equipped and trained than officers of those times.

What you cannot train for and cannot know until it happens is how you will react when the proverbial SHTF situation occurs. Having been involved in shootings myself, and multiple armed encounters with suspects, I can tell you I did not know how I would react, but ultimately I acted how I had been trained. But one important factor is I am not just talking about physical training like firearms and defensive tactics, but also mental training.

As my friend, mentor and favorite training officer I ever had, Sgt. Gerald Ward of the Cooper City Police Department once said to me, “We do not run away or hide, we move to the sound of the gunshots and put an end to it.” Gerry was a Viet Nam Marine Veteran and a really great cop. I was told over and over again, and continued to do this throughout my 35 years as a police officer, to visualize myself in situations I was heading into and see myself fighting my way through it. I visualized myself being shot at, and returning fire (that happened), I visualized myself getting in physical fights with suspects, and winning, and that happened many times, even though I was injured also on occasion. I prepared myself mentally to do what I was expected to do and would not allow myself any other outcome.

I worked with many Deputies and police officers over the years. Some I had standing by my side when we confronted armed suspects trying to pull guns on us and shoot us. One particular suspect tried to pull a .45 semi-auto on myself and Dep. James Garrison. Jamie and I both at the same time got hold of the guy and it was quick and dirty, but we walked away and he went to prison. I knew how Jamie would react, and he knew how I would. MAny days I was afraid while working as acop, and those days I just had to push through it and move on.

So I know many brave, upstanding law enforcement officers. I have trained thousands of them. And the thing that bothers me about this recent mass murder, besides the act itself and the victims, is the fact that it appears that some Deputies failed to take action while students were inside possibly being shot.

We train over and over for just such events. We go over what to do and how to do it. Without giving away our tactics and techniques, we are to locate, isolate and neutralize the threat. Either alone or as a small team, we are to go in and stop the threat.

What we try to train the new recruits and officers about is that you may someday have to put yourself in the direct line of danger. You may have to be the one to distract the threat away from the innocents and be the one that is being shot at (and hopefully returning fire also). You may even be shot or injured and must continue to fight on protecting those that you swore to protect. We tell them, jokingly yet in all seriousness, that you are not out of the fight until you are dead. When this reality hits some recruits, they quit the program. Which we would rather they do than get into the middle of a life and death struggle, and then realize they cannot take the needed action.

As police officers, we are not afforded the luxury of waiting sometimes for more help to arrive. We are the help that others have come to rely on. We must take action and when we do not, others may die as a result of our inaction.

One way to train yourself to be ready for these life and death situations, and one that we have found that works is to “bulletproof” your mind. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a fantastic speaker on this topic has a 1 and 2 day series of speeches he gives all around the world on this very topic. I have heard Dave speak at least eight times and will attend again if given the chance. Something that those of us who choose to live the life of service to our fellow man can do to try and make sure that is along and faithful service, is to do as much as we can to prepare for these very incidents.

So I come full circle, back to the murders in Parkland. The situation surrounding the deputies that did not take the appropriate action of confronting the shooter as soon as they possibly could should be investigated fully. And short of any currently unforeseen reason, should face the punishment that is due them for such lack of action. They will have to live with their action (or lack thereof) but the victims of the mass murderer are not as lucky.

To the law abiding public out there who have lost some faith in the police forces that protect them because of this, do not think that the actions of a few represent or are indicative of the whole. There are far more brave, noble and ethical officers out there than those who are not.


How do we Stop Mass Murder like That in Parkland, Florida?

First and foremost I feel extreme sadness for the victims and their families of the recent school shooting in Parkland. Having been a police officer and traffic homicide investigator for my entire adult life I have seen my share of death and tragedy. If I have learned anything during those years it was that reactions to these types of situations usually are emotionally driven and do not really have any basis in facts or logic. I also trained security forces of the Army that secured our nuclear weapons. So I know a bit about protecting things.

The Facts on Firearms

Let’s look at a few facts so we are dealing in the realm of logic and real things that could make a real difference. First evil exists in the world. There has always been and will always be people that have some reason to hate their fellow humans and will try and harm and kill for various reasons. Regardless of the reasons, the outcome is the same and that is what we have to focus on. Also, we need to look and see if this a problem that is increasing, decreasing or staying the same. Why? Because that could have a bearing on what has or has not been working. Again logical, calm reasoning.

First has mass murder, or murder in general increased over time? In looking to the FBI and Department of Justice we find statistics that tell us the factual truth. Since a peak in 1993 Murder in the United States has gone down by over 40%. But that just does not seem right. The news, social media, and ability of news to travel at the speed of light has made it seem like these things are on a dramatic increase. How many times have you heard “We never had these things when I was a kid.” When in reality these things have been going on for decades. But with the instant media we have now, it seems like it has become an epidemic when in reality we are far better off now than just 20 years ago. Even violent crime is down in several categories.

Violent crimes per 100K people in the US went from 747.1 in 1993 to 372.6 in 2015. That is a drop of >50%! The chances of you becoming the victim of a violent crime, any violent crime, went from 79.8 per 1000 people in 1993 down to 18.6 in 2015, again a dramatic drop of >76%! But if you listen to the news and other sources, you would never know this.

Also are guns a problem in the United States? Again let’s look at the facts not emotions. Firearms account for around 11,000 to 13,000 murders a year. That is criminal murders, not suicides (firearms account for only 6% of suicide attempts) or defensive uses of Firearm. 13,000 murders out of a country of 350,000,000 people is actually pretty darn good. Yes if you are one of the victims or family of a victim it is not, but you are more likely to die from many other more common causes than being shot to death with a firearm.

And the last fact is about firearms, notice the focus of Congress and State Legislators on the “assault rifle”. So just how many people are killed with these “high powered” “killing machines”? For the answer, we turn to the FBI and DOJ again and guess what, rifles of any kind account for the least amount of firearms deaths except for shotguns. In 2016, out of about 11,000 firearms murders, only 374 of those were committed with a rifle. And if you know anything about firearms, a shotgun or pistol is a far better weapon for use inside a building. Pistols are used far more than rifles or shotguns, actually more people are murdered by hands and feet and knives than the big bad assault rifle.


What can be Done to Prevent or Lessen the Impact of Mass Murderers?

Well first let’s look at the causes that we do know about for some of these events. Bullying, terrorism, Workplace violence, mental illness, and others. So we can, of course, focus on some of those like mental illness, better treatment or better screening.

But those things are already being considered. Could we do better trying to find and screen those types of people? Of course.

Physical Security

But in reality, there are three things that actually can be done. First, if you look at places that we spend a lot of money to keep safe from shootings and violence they involve what is called physical security. “Physical security” is the term given to those things you can build or design and put in place that physically make it harder for something like this to happen. In the military, we used fences and blockhouses to secure the nation’s nuclear weapons (among other things of course). I have heard metal detectors mentioned, and fences and other things. Did you know that to build a new school to Fire Prevention standards adds millions to the cost of every school When was the last time we have a kid or multiple kids killed in a school fire? You haven’t because those things have worked and we have been conditioned and taught about them.

So my suggestions are along the same lines as the fire prevention people. Physical things like some bulletproof glass on classroom doors and entry doors, steel core doors that will stop bullets. Doors that can be locked remotely from the office. Cameras and microphones throughout the school are all things we can do to help limit access and stop or lessen the carnage. Metal Detectors are great, but how do you funnel 3000 students through them and into the school each morning without taking hours? All it takes is money. That is the killer of these suggestions most of the time. It cost too much, no one wants to pay for the required upgrades, even if they do save lives.

Add Armed Good Guys

Having been in law enforcement as long as I have been, involved in a few shootings, having seen it first hand, the only thing that will stop an evil person with a firearm bent on killing others is a good guy with a firearm of equal or better firepower. Why do you think police officers carry firearms? So when they are confronted with a firearm-wielding bad guy they can stop the threat, or at least shoot back.

So how would we get more good guys to put in places like K through 12 schools? Well in Florida Senator Baxley filed a bill that would address this issue. The Bill would allow retired LEO’s, Retired Military, Active duty Military and LEO’s to act as additional armed security at the schools. They, of course, would be trained by the local law enforcement, and be screened prior but having additional armed, trained personnel at the school might not only lessen the carnage if something happens, it may act as a deterrent if the future little murderer knew that there were a dozen armed and trained good guys with firearms at the school. Most mass murderers are cowards and kill themselves when confronted by an armed response. I would add to this allowing staff and teachers who are concealed carry licensed to be allowed to carry in the school if they wanted to. I know many teachers I have talked to that would actually go out and get training and get licensed to do this very thing if allowed. One told me “I would die to protect my kids, but I would rather see the bad guy die.” Words well spoken.

For colleges, since they are also a place where these mass murders have happened would be a simple fix of allowing campus carry. Since the college crowd are adults, those that already have licenses to carry concealed firearms outside the college should be allowed to carry inside the college grounds. What makes people think that those people that carry everywhere else should not be allowed to carry at a college to protect themselves? If you look back the last few years at where the college shootings happened, they were almost every one of them a “gun free zone”. Those places where staff and students of colleges are allowed to carry do not seem to have these mass murders. Why is that? Fear of getting shot on the part of the murderer I think.

And in line with this line of thought, get rid of all gun free zones. It has been proven time and time again that “gun free zones” do nothing to stop murderers. Only law-abiding people who are legally carrying follow that rule, and then become an unarmed target. Those people in Florida who are licensed concealed carry permit holders have been shown to be even more law-abiding than me and my fellow LEO’s! Actually 6 times more law abiding. So why can they not be trusted everywhere to carry, they carry almost everywhere now without incident. In fact, it again has been proven that there are times a licensed concealed carrier has saved lives, and some of those my brothers and sisters in blue. End all gun free zones for licensed firearms carriers.

An incentive to make places add security to allow licensed carry on their premises? Pass legislation making them liable for the patrons that visit them if they do not allow concealed carry legally and fail to make additional security measurements to protect their patrons.

Train People in and Make it Easier to Report Suspicious Behavior

Educate our children, and adults, on what to look for and who to report things that make them worry about someone or someone’s behavior. The “See something, say something” that is the current phrase used to remind people to report these things is great, but we need to not only teach kids and adults what to look for, but also our social networks, internet providers, and others also need to be encouraged if not mandated to report anything that would be considered threatening or dangerous in nature that is directed at a location, school or group.

This last mass school murderer had all kinds of warning signs, and those were reported to the FBI, yet it appears they failed to follow through on the information. This is unacceptable and those responsible should be held accountable. But in the future, policy and procedures need to be put in place to make sure that if something is reported it is followed up on. In line with this, there also needs to be a way for a person wrongly targeted by this attention by authorities to be cleared and the information disposed of when it is found to be nothing of importance.

What Should We Not Do?

Let’s talk reality. It is beyond the point that we need people who have no clue that it would be physically impossible to remove firearms from the people of the USA. There are far too many and far too many people own them now legally without causing any problems at all. Those people who are calling for “gun control” or “bans” have no clue that what they are truly asking is to make millions of Americans into criminals because they chose to arm themselves in order to protect themselves and their families. Confiscation just is not physically or logistically possible, nor would it be Constitutional so let’s stop talking about it.

We should not waste our time or government time on passing more restrictive laws that will not stop a single mass murderer. Why do people not realize that murder is already illegal and carries very stiff penalties yet happens? Mass murderers are not deterred by laws already on the books, what makes any logical smart person think a new law will change that. If you disagree, I have a challenge for you. Name one law that if passed would have stopped one single mass murderer in the last 5 years. I wouldn’t waste your time trying, there is none.

So if we want to stop or lessen the carnage, make physical changes to our schools, just like we did to help prevent fire deaths. Allow qualified, trained armed security to supplement our schools’ law enforcement presence. While we can’t put squads of armed cops in every school, we could probably get enough volunteers to make a difference! And last get rid of the completely ineffective, pointless gun free zones. They do not work and only make for “target rich environments” for someone bent on making high body counts out of unarmed helpless victims.

I am Afraid for my Country and the Younger Generation.

I am afraid for my country and the younger generation.

We were a country of laws and people who are known for being self-sufficient, self-reliant, strong and inventive. We led the world in inventions and creativeness. We are known the world over for being a “free” country. Why do you think the US has so many people trying to come here to live?

But now all I see and hear on our media, and on the internet, social media platforms and more are calls for a reduction of that freedom. We have been doing just fine for decades. Murder has been going down by double digits.(Check the DOJ Statistics), we have seen a reduction in all types of violent crime. Why is that? I am sure there are many reasons. But none of those reasons is because we have reduced peoples rights.

Now people are having an emotional reaction to the murder in Las Vegas. I understand completely. Having held people as they die and take their last breath, I know death. Having investigated fatal car crashes for years as a LEO, I had to tell more than one family of the death of their loved one. I know the pain and anguish these types of things cause. No one wants to see or have to experience any more of them. But therein lies the issue.

You cannot regulate or legislate murder or evil away. You can’t stop these shootings from happening. They happen and will continue to happen regardless of laws or limits we place on inanimate objects. Because when you think you have figured out how to stop the next mass killing, the killers use a car, or truck or plane. We had 59 people killed, murdered by guns. Not in Las Vegas but in Chicago in the month of Sept. Yet we heard nothing on the national level about that. Why because it does not play into the emotional attack that people need to try and take away your rights “for the good of all”.

Think about this statement for a minute, “You cannot make people safer by taking away the things that make them safe.” Regulating firearms any more than they are, or limiting any of the currently available firearms. In fact, there is only one thing that will deter or prevent the next murderer from attacking a target. If you knew of a pending attack. And could not stop it but only make it less likely to succeed or reduce the number of casualties what would you do? Provide more armed security? More law enforcement presence? Why? because they carry firearms. And the only way to stop an armed attacker is by an armed response. Why in the world do you think cops carry firearms? Because it’s a deterrent and needed to respond to armed attackers. Pretty simple. So what makes anyone with half a brain think that taking any firearms away from the law-abiding citizens of this great country will make them safer?

When there is any threat to the safety of our people in this country how do we make them safer? We post armed security or LE. While it would not have stopped the Las Vegas Murderer because of the positioning and location were chosen.

Here is my recommendation to reduce the number of mass murders involving firearms, and you have not heard it anywhere else yet. Instead of making it harder to purchase firearms by law-abiding citizens, make it easier. Allow people to carry a firearm concealed or openly if they choose, nationwide. Gun free zones? Outlaw them, except for certain specific places. Create a National Carry law that allows law-abiding citizens to carry concealed or openly nationwide. Instead of outlawing things that will not affect criminals one single bit, allow law abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families. For once realize that the vast majority of people in this country are good decent law-abiding people, and we should not let the very few cause us to regulate the rights of the majority.

God Bless the United States and its people.

City of Ferguson Caves, Agrees to Pay Settlement to Parents of Michael Brown Despite Lawful Police Shooting

Only in today’s lefty courts of America can an attempted murderer’s parents profit from their adult son’s criminal actions and death.

I have seen and heard many things in my three decades as a cop, plus my military time. However, I recently heard that Michael Brown’s parents settled a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson for their son’s death.

These are the same parents of an 18-year-old adult who attacked and arguably tried to seriously injure or kill a police officer. The police officer was cleared in the shooting, as it was ruled justified. Yet even though justified and found lawful, the officer had to quit and move out of town for the safety of his own family. These are the same parents who, after the shooting incited violence, said, “Let’s burn this m——- down.”

Read the rest here.

It Takes a Good Guy With a Gun to Stop a Bad Guy With a Gun

“Law enforcement is reactionary by its very nature — remember, they come when you call, but you have to be able to call them.”

As news unfolded last week in this country, many things got splashed across our television screens and repeated over and over again. If the story is one of death or terror, it usually gets plenty of airtime and lots of print. A perfect example is the very newsworthy shooting at the Republican softball practice. A lunatic, left wing fringe ‘wanna-be killer’ tried to target unarmed and defenseless Congress members. It got the press time it deserved.

The attempted murder of our Congress members was stopped by two armed plain clothes police officers assigned as dignitary protection to one of the present members. Even after being wounded, they continued to engage the gunman. They were both transported to the hospital, and the gunman later died from his injuries. The other present members of Congress were fortunate the police officers had been assigned as protection.

Read the rest here.

The Media Creates the Hatred that is Directed at Law Enforcement…

“Having been stabbed with a knife and spent a month in the hospital during my service time I can tell you knives can and do kill people all the time.”

With all of the talk and media coverage of the recent shooting in Virginia on how a lunatic lefty targeted Republican Congress members, this may have gone unnoticed but for the fact that I try to read any press, positive or negative, about the profession I have worked in all of my life.

I recently caught a headline on my Twitter feed (@downrangewithcw) that jumped out at me. “Pregnant Mother Shot Dead by Cops Whom She Called for Help.” If I was an average citizen who saw that and took it as truthful news, I would be outraged. How dare the cops gun down a pregnant female who called them for help without any justification? My anger and outrage would be justified, if that was the “whole story.”

Read the rest of the story here…

Florida Officers are NOT Taught Firearms Law in the Police Academy.

I can only speak for my state, Florida, but I have found something that is very eye opening and needs to be addressed by the State of Florida.

I found that in the Basic Law Enforcement Officers Training Curriculum there is no mention anywhere of the laws and procedures relating to firearms and Concealed Carry License holders and laws, and it is vital that it be addressed immediately as it could result in the serious consequences for both my fellow law enforcement officers, and the law abiding citizens of Florida!

I have been teaching and training law enforcement and corrections officers in Florida for more than 34 years. I currently am the Law Enforcement/ Corrections Training Coordinator at Santa Fe College, Institute of Public Safety in Gainesville, and have been there for going on 20 years now. I have been very active in the past in writing and developing the FDLE/CJSTC Curriculum that we use to teach in our basic courses, acting as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) for FDLE on several subjects.

As part of my duties as coordinator, it is important that I review the current curriculums and make sure that we are teaching all of the needed information to make our officers/ deputies the very best informed and trained LEO’s we can. In addition, the more knowledgeable our LEO’s are the better they are equipped to handle situations that arise during their careers, and also helps to keep them from being liable for any misdeeds due to the lack of knowledge or training. It was while reviewing last years and this year’s Basic LEO curriculum that I found a serious omission in the text and materials.

I am sure that if I asked you how much time we spend on the firearms laws in the State of Florida in the Basic Academy you would probably say at least several hours, right? I mean with over 1.7 million concealed weapons license holders, you would think that we would address these laws and the proper way of dealing with this group of law abiding citizens correct? Well, we do not. There is actually 0 (zero) time or lessons dedicated to the instruction of the Firearms laws in the state of Florida. Even though Officers are expected to know and deal with these laws almost on a daily basis. In fact, we do not cover the laws concerning the CWL holders of Florida and what is legal and what is not as it pertains to citizens possessing firearms.

There are even only a few very brief, very short mentions of the Florida Chapter 790 in the entire training text. One of which simply mentions that it is one of the warrantless arrest exceptions for “Carrying a Firearm in Violation of an Injunction (s. 790.233, F.S.)” and “Carrying a Concealed Weapon (s. 790.02, F.S.)”[1] in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 mentions it as one of the crimes in Chapter 2, Unit 3, Lesson 2, Elements of crimes where it covers “carrying a Concealed Weapon (without a license), s. 790.01, Misdemeanor/ Felony”[2]. That is it! That is the entire law enforcement curriculum on dealing with firearms laws.

It is understood that we cannot cover every law and every situation in the Basic Law Enforcement Academies. I know this better than most people. But I also know that with the increase in Concealed Weapons License’s in the State of Florida (now over 1.7 million!) officers are encountering the law abiding citizen that is legally armed more and more. And with several current cases and lawsuits against officers and departments for unlawful arrests[3], or otherwise unknowingly violating a law-abiding, licensed citizens’ rights and getting complaints filed against them, we need to do something to better protect our officers, departments and the law abiding citizens of Florida.

I first discovered this lack of information when working on an in-service training curriculum with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Training Unit. They were getting complaints about officers disarming CWL holders during routine traffic stops and were investigating the legality of this issue and trying to better educate their Deputies. I assisted with the curriculum due to my involvement in this subject matter for a number of years.  We developed and used a very good curriculum and taught their deputies during in-service about the current state laws concerning the carrying of firearms by citizens. Both lawful and unlawful, and the training was well received.

The major issue at hand is the practice of officers “disarming” lawfully carrying citizens on the side of the street without any further reason than they are armed. Any handling of a firearm (which the LEO may not be familiar with) on the side of the road or elsewhere is potentially dangerous. It has been discussed and there is case law to support the view that officers, while being able to use Stop and Frisk (F.S.S. 901.151) when someone is under investigation for a criminal act, and when finding that the person may be armed AND is a danger to the officer, the officer may frisk for weapons, it does not cover frisking or disarming a law abiding citizen, who is not breaking any laws other than a possible civil infraction of traffic law. Officers can and do ask motorist and passengers if they are armed, and rightly can do so. But by Florida law it is not covered that they can then, upon learning they are a licensed, lawfully carrying citizen, disarm that person and deprive them of their property. In fact, the courts have held otherwise. In fact case law states that it is not permitted.[4] In fact, Florida law does not require a citizen to notify an officer they are lawfully armed unless the officer directly asks the person if they are armed (790.06).

In order to prevent citizen complaints and lawsuits for violation of citizens’ rights, do away with the unnecessary handling of firearms on the side of the street, and to increase the trust of the citizens with our police officers statewide (which is vital right now considering current events) I respectfully request that the CJSTC consider adding a lesson on Chapter 790, Firearms Laws and include as part of that, “Law Enforcement interactions with Concealed Weapons License Holders”.

This training is vital to our current situation and may help prevent unnecessary litigation and even possible injury or worse happening to one of our LEO’s or a law abiding citizen. And it is important to remind everyone involved that there are multiple cases now of lawfully armed citizens saving the lives of Police Officers across the nation! Lawful gun owners are not the problem or the enemy!



1 Florida Basic Recruit Training Program, Text Book 1, Version 2016.07, Page 52 & 53.

2 Florida Basic Recruit Training Program, Text Book 1, Version 2016.07, Page 74.

3 Freeman & Florida Carry v. City of Tampa, et al./ Norman vs. State of Florida (currently under review by the Florida Supreme Court) / Florida Carry v. City of Daytona Beach

4 741 So.2d 1268 (1999), Bruce WELCH, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee. No. 98-2615. District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.

[1] Florida Basic Recruit Training Program, Text Book 1, Version 2016.07, Page 52 & 53.

[2] Florida Basic Recruit Training Program, Text Book 1, Version 2016.07, Page 74.

[3] Freeman & Florida Carry v. City of Tampa, et al./ Norman vs. State of Florida (currently under review by the Florida Supreme Court) / Florida Carry v. City of Daytona Beach

[4] 741 So.2d 1268 (1999), Bruce WELCH, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee. No. 98-2615. District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.