Last night, over a course of a couple hours as I was working on the computer, I had a text conversation with another like-minded law enforcement supervisor. All the while, my Facebook feed was post after post about the 7 law enforcement officers from around the country killed within a week of the first fallen officer, Seaside Police Sgt. Jason Goodding, about 1 1/2 hours away from me.
First off, I am not writing to criticize anyone. In conversations, I am the first to point out that I think Law Enforcement eats their own. It is bad enough there are groups who instantly criticize us just for the fact that we wear a badge. Yet, as soon as a Youtube video hits or a new story breaks on the 5 O'clock news, our thin blue line starts talking at training classes, on social media posts, you name it, condemning the officer on how we can't believe they did "this" or why didn't they do "that".
These are the same officers who should understand from their own experiences and training, things don't always go text book. Even a major "training company" had the audacity to post a remark stating that they can't believe that Officer X did this with an armed individual. They didn't even have all the details because information had not been released. I'm sorry, but as past LEO's they should have known better or maybe they need to fire their social media person for publicly claiming an officer did something wrong that led to their own death without all the details.
Back on topic, my purpose here is to throw down the gauntlet to all working Law Enforcement Officers. Be a hard target, be confident in your skills and seek excellence. That being said, I am going to spell it out, "Your department will not give you all the training and equipment you will need in this job." Your department may have instructors stuck in the quagmire of “Well that’s the way we’ve always done it.” They might have sought a training position as a retirement job or to avoid the street. Whatever the reason, invest in yourself.
Think back to high school sports or other competitive endeavors. Did you only practice during sanctioned practices? No, everyone had "voluntary" daily doubles, weight room, and clinics. We sought out the best coaches, do-jangs seminars and today for some of us CrossFit Boxes. So, what was the price for not doing those and being the best? No college scholarships, not placing, varsity slots, or playing time.
What is the penalty for not being the best you can in Law Enforcement? Hmmm...well at least 7 officers paid with the ultimate sacrifice this week, last year 142 died in the line of duty with 42 of those officer dying from gunshot wounds. Again, I am not saying they did anything wrong for the circumstances they found themselves in. Yet there are always lessons to be learned from the most mundane of incidents to the call that I hope all of us will clamor to the first on scene, to stop the active shooter killing innocents. I see mistakes I make every time I review a dash cam video of myself and work to fix them.
Friday, I didn't go to the memorial for a brother fallen officer, there were plenty there to honor his sacrifice. I did honor him, though, in my own way. I chose to spend the day with my kids to hold them and watch them enjoy a day. Just like I am sure my fallen brother would love to do with his children as he is looking down over them.
Every time, I am with my children, I am renewed to know that I want to come home to them every time after shift. I want to see them graduate high school and college. I want to see them find their spouses (because I'll be damned if I am not going to be there to approve of them.) I want to meet my grandchildren and be grandpa to them. Those are the images I resort to when things get tough.
I first started down the path that led me to be a trainer because I wanted to be better than those who may try to kill me or my fellow officers, simply because of the uniform we wear. I wanted to be able to know case law such as “Graham vs. Connor,” inside and out. I wanted to able to understand “Human Performance,” and know how to set up my tactics to get in front of “Action vs Reaction.” I didn't want hesitate when it called for decisive action. I wanted to use tactics that allowed me to avoid injury to anyone when it isn't needed but not hesitate when force is warranted. I wanted to train so my tactics were not the cause of situations but when situations can't be avoided then my skills were top notch.
It turned into, not only do I want to be at my best but I want to provide my fellow officers, and even citizens, the best training possible. Because of money? No, it does help me get to new schools and experiment with new gear, but I do so because I hate funerals and seeing folks be victims.
So do yourself a favor, invest in yourself. Hardware is meaningless if the software is not running at top speed. Program the software because I hate funerals, I hate hearing of families missing a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, or a loved one because they were not better than someone that chose to take them on because of the job they do. I also don't want to see mistakes lead to the end of a career and ultimately the end of a life.
Lose the ego, remember you don't know what you don't know and seek out training that fits your mission, even if your department won't foot the bill. Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, and Mechanics spend money out of their own pockets every year to keep on top of their game, What's the penalty for them if they are not the best? Finding a new career? What's your penalty?
Lose a couple days away and maybe a couple hundred dollars out of your own pocket or the rest of your life?
So I bring this all back to my conversation with who I will call my friend who shares the same frustration with some of the LEO's, We want to see our fellow officers get training that saves the lives both those wearing the Blue and others.
Besides, preparing for gunfights do yourself a favor. The more physically fit you are the easier everything is and the more your body can survive trauma. Heck, just getting in and out of the car with all the gadgets and do dads these days can be a knee/back killer. Small choices help. Alternatives like walking, biking or lifting instead of sitting down in front of the TV can help. Choices such as making a little healthier choice on what to eat or drink can help you too.
Don't do it for yourself, Do it for your family, kids, parents, sibling, co-workers who will be left behind if we are gone too soon.
My friend and his brother is so dedicated to providing training he sees as invaluable to avoiding the funerals that they have created scholarships to send LEO's to some Suarez International Schools because as a current and past LEO's they see the Suarez International Schools as "training that saves lives." I can't agree more!
If not this training detailed below there are other opportunities right in your own backyard. Seek them out.
The scholarship is for tuition, lodging and providing 1 meal a day for the select Prescott, AZ classes with Gabe Suarez. All you have to do is get yourself to Prescott, AZ if selected. There are other opportunities for scholarships in Texas with John Chambers and Jon Payne, who are also top notch instructors.
Details on the scholarship opportunities below as copied from WarriorTalk Forums:
1 Scholarship: Complete Pistol Gunfighting School - Prescott, AZ May 13 - 15, 2016. Instructor: Gabe Suarez
1 Scholarship: Red Dot Combat Pistol School - Prescott, AZ September 23 - 25, 2016. Instructor: Gabe Suarez
Unrestricted (Nobody / Mil / LE)
1 Scholarship: Red Dot Combat Pistol School- Orange, TX June 24-26, 2016. Instructor: Jon Payne
1 Scholarship: CRG-3: Advanced Gunfighting - Austin, TX March 26-17, 2016. Instructor: John Chambers
What is Included?
For Prescott, AZ Courses:
1. Cost of Tuition
2. Potential Housing for Course Duration. You will be hosted at the private residence of ChrisNobody and MCSO (in other words please show due respect ie: No smoking, Partying etc) You will get at least one meal covered as well as transport to and from the range.
For non-Prescott, AZ Courses:
1. Cost of Tuition only
How do I apply?
Please include the following information: Name (can just be first name). WT Handle. List of Suarez International Courses you have already taken. List of other training courses you have already taken. What equipment you intend to bring to the course (be sure to note if you have items you are still looking to source, etc.). Why getting this scholarship is important to you. What do you intend to do with this scholarship (who will you protect, train, etc.). How do you prepare for this every day (dry fire regimen, exercise program, etc.). Then tell us anything else you want to sway the decision in your favor.
For Mil/LE: Send an e-mail to MCSOWT@gmail.com Please be sure to send from a .mil or .gov e-mail address also include information about your department/branch and your role within the department/branch
How will scholarship applications be evaluated?
Scholarship applications will be evaluated by ChrisNobody and MCSO (WarriorTalk Names) primarily. We will undoubtedly ask at least one if not more of the Suarez Staff instructors to assist in the evaluation process; however, given that the scholarships have, thus far, been funded solely by the two of us, we reserve the right to award them as we see fit. We will be considering these as a holistic package, meaning we will use what you send in as well as we will review how much you participate in the WT forums and the type and quality of that participation. We will then contact the awardees and discuss it with them prior to publicly announcing the scholarship awards.
Consider the timeline to submit as now being 'open'. We plan to award our first scholarship (for the March class in Texas) no later than 2/24. That being the case, please get your submissions in quickly. We will announce the rest of the awards over the course of March. So, do your best to have your material in prior to the end of February.
Suarez International Staff Instructor
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN....... #BACKTHEBLUE