What Does It Take To Build Morale

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Below is a common headline conveying the belief morale can be bought. This shows the degree of crisis in leadership within the profession of law enforcement:

“Ga. chief pitches more officers, better pay and benefits to counter low moraleBy Tim Chitwood Columbus Ledger-Enquirer


It takes authentic leadership to build high morale. Members at all levels need confidence and trust in their leaders. I once heard a great Catholic preacher say: ‘One of the worst consequences of sin is the removal of leadership.’  A crisis of leadership soon leads to a crisis of craftsmanship.  

What is morale?  In part Merriam-Webster defines morale as: 

Morale: a confident, resolute, willing, often self-sacrificing and courageous attitude of an individual to the function or tasks demanded or expected of him : a sense of common purpose or a degree of dedication to a common task : ESPRIT DE CORPS.

Esprit De Corps: the usually selfless and often enthusiastic and jealous devotion of the members of a group or association of persons to the group or to its purposes.  

Personally, I like a condensed definition of esprit de corps, fighting spirit, or even a willingness to riskHigh morale means the members of the group have confidence in, devotion to, and a willingness to risk in a self-sacrificing courageous kind of way for the leader, for the group, and for the groups purposes.  The purposes are rightly defined as those things that profession or craft was designed or ought to do Is it in the best interest of the common good that law enforcement officers have high morale? Yes, absolutely! Chiefs of Police are right to ponder how to improve morale.  

Today there is a massive crisis in leadership in the Church and in the world.  I’m going to make some comments regarding the crisis in law enforcement.  There is no shortage of men sitting in seats of authority who do not appear to understand the responsibility that authority carries with it.  Part of the problem today is an imbalance between the desire to become a craftsman at doing all the things which their law enforcement profession exists to do (as C.S. Lewis might be wont to say), and their desires to become a craftsman at politics.  If ambition for wealth, power, pleasures, or honors is their primary focus then we find craftsmen at politics who lack craftsmanship regarding the profession itself.  

Bad leaders become modern day sophists or word smiths.  In antiquity what was a sophist?

Sophist: a paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric in ancient Greece, associated in popular thought with moral skepticism and specious reasoning :a person who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments.  Oxford Languages

Bad leaders use buzzwords being clever enough to avoid ever defining what those buzzwords mean. The use of buzzwords that sound like solutions often provides an opportunity to fool the highest number of people into believing that the buzzword means whatever they want it to mean.  Sounds a lot like a modern day politician. One of the buzzwords which directly affects this crisis of craftsmanship is accountability.  Bad leaders often worry more about human respect and being liked than worrying about the sacrifice they need to make to ensure their people are properly trained and then held responsible for meeting competency standards with the end goal of craftsmanship. So inside the police house things get neglected while outwardly bad leaders project they understand the importance of accountability. Because many of the leaders are incompetent, blind, or confused on next right things they themselves cannot give what they do not have. Many out in the community interpret the use of the buzzword ‘accountability’ to mean that the Chief of Police and his staff are focused on holding the officers accountable. In an administrative and legal sense this is true but not in a good way. Due to pressure from special interest groups, politics, and the rise of activist prosecutors officers are frequently being thrown under the proverbial bus when their actions were morally, ethically, and even legally correct (activist prosecutors don’t see it that way). Incompetence reigns supreme in a crisis of leadership.  Andrew Branca has an outstanding analysis of the legal defense of the former police officer Aaron Dean where Mr. Branca breaks down competence issues in the legal defense. Don’t misunderstand me there still are craftsmen and craftswomen in the world and in the profession of law enforcement but those men and women are too often being passed over for the high seats by men and women of a more progressive mindset. Why? Punishment for sin. In my opinion Attorney Andrew Branca has done the work and is one of those craftsmen. You can find his book and links at this website at:

Attorney Andrew Branca’s Website

In addition to a lack of clarity another aspect of bad leaders using buzzwords is the telling of half truths.  Another popular buzzword today is deescalationDeescalation by itself is a half truth.  Police necessarily have to use force to stop unjust criminal aggressors from harming and especially from killing innocent people including the police officers themselves.  That force or violence of action includes both escalation and deescalation.  At the moment an unjust criminal aggressor chooses to initiate and maintain an imminent deadly threat to any innocent person; a police officer ought to escalate force to STOP that unjust threat and protect innocent life.  If the police officer hesitates because of various fears he gambles with the lives of innocents. How long will he gamble? How many verbal warnings will he give to drop the gun? In his willingness to gamble with innocent lives he neglects his grave moral and ethical duty to the benefit of the unjust criminal aggressor.  Yes, I know exactly what the United States Supreme Court has said about an officers lack of a legal duty to protect innocent life. To my understanding this lack of a duty was reaffirmed following the Parkland Stoneman Douglas High School active shooter massacre. That is why I emphasized an officers grave moral and ethical duty. Perhaps law enforcement might want to drop the whole swearing of an oath thing. This wager works in the favor of the bad guy over and above an innocent.  Common sense ought to tell everyone that isn’t right. To make such a wager is to abdicate a grave moral and ethical duty over to the bad guy. It’s like saying to the bad guy: “I don’t want to make this hard decision so I defer to you.  You decide who lives and who dies today! You go first. I’m willing to sacrifice innocent life to give you the benefit of the doubt even though millisecond by millisecond you choose to maintain an imminent deadly threat!”  My point is folks who use the buzzword deescalation are advocating for a lie – a half truth.  

Here’s the correct order for anyone who’s confused:

  1. God first
  2. Innocents second
  3. You Third (presuming your committed to protecting those your responsible for and then yourself)
  4. Unjust criminal aggressors last

Community policing is another buzzword which has been used and abused for many years within the profession of law enforcement.  This term has been used to provide those who do not understand a false kind of hope that things will get better. The term itself is not a bad term. How it has been used by ignorant men is the problem. Authentic community policing ought to concern itself with relationships. The cornerstone of any good relationship is trust. As a Catholic through studying my Faith I learned a very important Catholic principle that has serious implications to authentic community policing: Unity subsists in truth.  Outside of truth – no unity!  The probability of building trust when telling the public half-truths is zero. In the same way a Chief cannot buy his officers morale Chiefs of Police cannot buy good relationships with their communities by use of ignorant gimmicks. For instance handing out a free turkey in lieu of a ticket around thanksgiving.  Nor can he build sound relationships built upon trust by purchasing an ice cream truck and handing out free ice cream in high crime dangerous areas. That doesn’t stop them from doing these silly useless things. The first time one of your officers rightly defends an innocent community member, a brother or sister in arms, or themselves justifiably shooting and killing an unjust criminal aggressor those cheap gimmicks add up to exactly nothing. An authentic law enforcement leader who actually cares whether his community members live or die will do the work to convey the right consequences that will hold sway when an unjust aggressor initiates and maintains an imminent deadly force threat. To neglect to do this is to set the stage for distrust. If that Chief, Assistant Chief, or Deputy Chief lacks the craftsmanship to do this or to properly field questions then he should ensure he’s putting the right department trainers in those seats and let the trainer properly explain it and field questions. Here’s the thing YOU as the Chief of Police have to actually care whether your people live or die.  This includes all of your people.  The men and women that you send into harm’s way as well as every innocent member of your community.  Tragic as it is when a human life is lost, realize the unjust criminal aggressor‘s life cannot and SHOULD NOT be valued above any innocent life (including innocent police officers).  To place an unjust aggressor above innocents is madness, blindness, and confusion of mind (Deuteronomy chapter 28 verses 15 and 28).  

Transparency is another buzzword Chief’s seem to love to advocate for until they don’t. Some things cannot and SHOULD NOT be disclosed.  Ironically the things that should be talked about with the community are not.  Why?  In many cases it’s because corporation counsel declares due to pending litigation or expected litigation we’re not going to be commenting on that specific incident.  Corporation counsel is yet another problem plaguing law enforcement, private companies, and even the Church. Lawyers ought to stay in their lanes.  If Chiefs of Police were more of a craftsman at their profession than politics then Chief’s would have the competencies to tell corporation counsel what the next right thing is. They would be able to unpack why this is the right time, right reason, and right way to handle whatever needs handling. There’s an old Latin saying: Nemo dot quod non habet. Loosely translated this means: No man gives what he does have.  Chiefs who are craftsmen should then demand counsel use their expertise as it pertains to the law to assist the police department in fulfilling its mission in accordance with these next right things.  Next right things are a major part of authentic leadership which has to do with the moral (ethical) battlefield. Realize as a leader when you choose to speak publicly and/or privately either to the public or your police household by your use of buzzwords absent a clear defining of terms you demonstrate a lack of authentic leadership. At best you are perceived as incompetent and at worst you are perceived as a coward.  In other words, your people find you out.  

If the Chief of Police and his staff are incompetent, mad, blind or confused, why in the world would anyone have confidence in, devotion to, or a willingness to risk for that staff?  That’s rhetorical as we already know the answer.  They won’t!  If you want your people to have a high morale then you have to give them reasons to believe they should have confidence and trust in you, the organization, and the organizations purpose. You cannot merely tell them how much you care about them and then through every single decision you make disprove every word you previously said. Talk is cheap and the moment a little (or big) test comes along everyone sees what you are – incompetent or a coward. People won’t follow that. People will not risk for that style of leadership.

You cannot buy esprit de corps or fighting spirit.  High morale must be earned by authentic leadership.  An authentically proud house in the very best sense of those words requires good leadership at every level but significant damage is done to morale when those sitting in top seats are incompetent, blind, or confused.  When good leadership is removed morale and the common good of the whole community are quick casualties.  For those who remain steadfast in their belief that money or some other benefit has the power to fix low morale then I challenge you to think about what the Word of God says about hirelings.  

John 10: 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. 

The hireling flees because he cares nothing for the sheep.  Because he cares nothing forPeople need to know that you really do care whether they live or they die.  They need to know you care whether they go to prison unjustly for doing their job or whether they maintain their freedoms.  They need to know you care whether they unjustly lose their job?  They need to know you care whether they are forced to file bankruptcy?  You cannot fake this because tests will come along and your people will find you out!  Your people watch you like a hawk for discrepancies between what you say and what you do.  

Leadership has many fronts upon which you as the leader need to be willing to fight, suffer, and die in small and sometimes large ways.  The late Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi understood leadership at a high level.  One of Lombardi’s famous quotes is: 

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”  

Those who believe moving up in authority is about an easier life don’t understand the responsibility and commitment necessary for authentic leadership. Leadership isn’t about you and your ego.  Authentic leadership is for your people.  It is in service to your people.  You are not going to right every wrong that comes down from those with more power and influence.  However, you can certainly open your mouth with a willingness to risk for your people when they act rightly as you trained them to do.  There are many and various fronts that leaders must be capable of fighting upon but before any of that they must break their backs, as it were, to become a craftsman at that body of work. 

  Leadership is for your people. 

If you don’t know your craft up one side and down the other you cannot give what you do not have.  Which means you’ll have errors within your training such as an over emphasis on things like deescalation when innocent citizens and officers’ lives depend upon sound training principles.  What are you doing to prepare the troops you lead into violent conflicts to actually win those physical battles?  Are you permitting human resources, corporation counsel, or some confused Mayor to force feed your people lies or half truths that endanger innocent lives?  

Have you had the courage to explain in detail to your troops what having their back actually means?  It means so long as they’re acting rightly as they’ve been trained to do; you are willing to go to the wall to rightly defend them against all threats both inside and outside your proud house.  It also means that if they act against their training in a spirit of vengeance or with malice you will do everything in your power to ensure they are held accountable.  To ‘have their backs’ when they act with malice or vengeance is not having their back; but is only a form of corruption.  

Simultaneously, what are you doing to put your larger community on notice that you will never sacrifice any innocent persons life under the specious pretext of a deceptive version of the term de-escalation?  That word deescalation offends more in what it fails to say than in what it actually says.  In order to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason and in the right way the profession of law enforcement must sometimes use of force.  Use of force necessarily includes both escalation and deescalation.  Why don’t we hear about the legitimate need for escalation?  Half – truths – are – lies.  Have you found a way to convey to the public that accountability applies to everyone?  Have you made clear that if their husbands, fathers, and sons initiate and maintain a deadly threat to any innocent person including your innocent police officers that they ought to expect to be immediately shot?  Have you made clear bad guys should no longer expect twenty five, forty two, or fifty seven verbal warnings to drop the gun! Have you explained to your officers to give the same warning over and over expecting a different result is what’s called a goofy loop? Have you explained to the public that upon seeing the presence of a police officer they should immediately drop the weapon which then will result in legitimate de-escalation?   Have you informed the public that if they refuse to change their will and if they fail to immediately drop the weapon the officer’s only legitimate right option is to remove their will by causing their incapacitation?  These are hard sayings.  What mayor will tolerate such raw truth?  You have to find a way without watering down the reality one iota.  Leaders need to unpack precisely what they mean when they use words like accountability, deescalation, community policing, or transparency.  Accountability applies to everyone.  If you will do this as a leader you will find you have many new enemies because this is not in accord with what is convenient or in season in 2023.  Much of the world has rejected truth and run off to myths and fantasies.  Yet it is precisely what is needed.  Have you made clear to everyone that you place more value on the lives of innocents over and above the lives of  unjust criminal aggressors?   

Authentic leadership is simple but it is hard to live out.  I have failed more times than I could count but I get back up and I aim once again for such noble things.  Authentic leadership is the solution to the problem of low morale.  

Authentic leadership is the solution to low morale!

Immediately preceding the Bible verse on hirelings we see this golden nugget or great secret to authentic leadership:

John 10:  11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

The secret if there is one is that the authentic leader cares enough to lay down his life in many and various small and sometimes large ways for his people. An authentic leader sacrifices his time to do the hard work to become a craftsman at the very thing his profession ought to do. There will never be a better example of authentic leadership than the Life of Jesus the Christ. You want to fix morale?  You better get dialed in on what authentic legitimate leadership really is.  May God give us the graces to live out authentic leadership.

Long View Situational Awareness

When people think of situational awareness what primarily comes to mind is thinking in terms of paying attention in the moment.  In this post I want to take a look at another aspect of situational awareness which takes a long view.  When it comes to violent crime happening in your neck of the woods you have to pay attention to the details.  For instance I’ll give you some great questions to answer relating to local news reports of armed robberies.  Now-a-days the press is often biased in what and how they report crime based upon political correctness.  Here’s what I look for when I see a headline regarding crimes occurring in the areas I patronize.  

  1. Where did this crime occur?  

The press will usually disclose a “hundred block” which is plenty of information.  For cities 100,000 plus population there are more efficient ways to identify geographical high crime dangerous areas with gun violence being the acid test for where I don’t want to take my family.  The efficient way is to do some online research to identify where all of the gun related homicides and shootings are happening.  Collateral damage which happens far more in larger cities is the number one reason I don’t want to take my family into those areas.  Once an untrained and unskilled criminal begins sending rounds downrange I have zero control over where his bullets go.   Also those gun crimes do NOT occur in a vacuum.  Where you have gun related homicides, aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated and reckless discharge of a firearm you’re going to have all the other violent crimes.  So just avoid those geographical areas.  

  1. What time did this crime occur?

In many if not most cases it will be after the sun sets until the sun rises. Don’t take my word for it, look for this fact and then modify your behaviors accordingly.  

  1. Was the armed robbery of a business or to persons?

You can treat the answers like principles.  The more principles you can apply the less of a probability that you’ll become the next victim.  Ninety nine percent of violent encounters can be avoided if you apply common sense principles.  These principles are interconnected and they pervade one another.  So if gas stations on a certain side of town are consistently being robbed after dark, guess where I’m not going to get gas after dark!  

  1. Who is doing all of these armed robberies? 

If it’s a male between 15 and 50 then I’m going to be heads up regarding strange male’s 15-50 approaching me and mine especially in high crime dangerous areas during those bad time periods.

This goes to the dangerous man principle taught at Humilitas First.  I have heard instructors say goofy things like:  You cannot look at someone and tell whether they’re a dangerous person.  I would argue that people often make a statement to the world by their manner of dress and comportment.   Someone who puts on leather vests or jackets with all the appropriate patches designating them as a 1% motorcycle club (of the criminal enterprise variety) are making statements to the world in how they dress or adorn themselves that they are dangerous men.  Common sense suggests you ought not start messing with them lest you get seriously hurt or killed.  Isn’t that kind of the point of all the scary names these clubs use?  So If you want to willingly disregard those non-verbal statements because in the past these outlaw clubs have donated to toys for tots, then I cannot help you and yours.  

One argument you might hear coming from a goofy instructor is the Ted Bundy argument.  Ted Bundy was purportedly charming and used ruses to lure in his victims.  Yes, this is true.  That said, we also have to consider probabilities.  Is it more or less probable that a guy who uses comportment and dress to tell the world he’s dangerous is not actually dangerous?  Another argument is that this guy is just a want to be.  My answer to that argument is a question: What does he want to be?  If you dress like a 1% outlaw motorcycle club member or an inner city gang member what vices do you hold in high esteem?  The difference between a want to be and someone who IS what they hold themselves out to be is time, desire, and a few more bad acts.  Give them enough time and desire and they’ll get there.  Maybe you’re the victim and his act against you confirms him in what he’s wanted to be.  

That’s part of how we identify dangerous men.  Another part is based upon their disposition.  Do they have an angry spirit which we can see when they’re screaming, striking things, or arguing with someone.  Perhaps we hear loud profanities or statements like:  I don’t give no “F”.  Why wouldn’t you believe this guy who’s yelling so that everyone can hear that he doesn’t care what comes next?  I’m going to believe him.  Do they have a lawless spirit which we witness primarily through lawless acts?  Does he have a party spirit?  People who are giddy up on drugs or alcohol often lack the ability to make good rational judgments.  These folks are often up one second and down the next.  They are unpredictable and often involved in misunderstandings that lead to anger, lawlessness, and violence.  I’m giving them a wide berth.  Lastly, does this man have an unclean spirit or spirit of madnessThese are terms used in the Old Testament.  Today we might use terms like psychotic.  Folks who appear to be hallucinating or otherwise seriously mentally ill are unpredictable and potentially highly dangerous.  Again, that guy gets a wide berth. 

  1. How many robbers are involved?

Why does this matter?  Singleton armed robbers are more likely to demand your money or material goods and have you hand it over to them.  Why?  They don’t have back up robbers if things start to go sideways.  When you get a pair of armed robbers it could go either way.  Maybe one holds the gun initiating and maintaining the deadly threat while the other robber collects your material goods.  Or maybe the contact robber decides to search your pockets and pats you down for additional goods.  That kind of robbery is a major concern for concealed carry guys and gals.  When it comes to complying with an armed robber or vigorously defending oneself this is a judgment call.  In the United States I’m not aware of any state that requires you to gamble even one one hundredth of a percent with your life or the lives of your family.  When an unjust criminal aggressor initiates and maintains an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm you and I have the right to defend ourselves.  That word “defend” throughout antiquity, now, and forever means: to strike.  It did not and does not mean: to block.  Might there be situations where I would hand over my wallet, phone, and keys?  Yes.  Likewise, there are most definitely situations where I recommend defending oneself with surprise, speed, and violence of action.  If I find myself in a large city where news reports consistently show two, three, or more armed robbery crews working the streets and “searching” or “patting down” their victims that type of armed robbery is the type that I may immediately choose to defend myself.  Why? Personally I don’t want to gamble on what the criminal is going to do when he realizes I have a firearm in my waistline. Maybe he finds it easier to just shoot me and take my firearm rather than himself gambling if I might continue to comply or immediately begin resisting or fighting back.  

Some large cities are constantly in the news even providing CCTV videos of crews of armed robbers.  Part of the way to avoid becoming a victim is to adopt sound principles.  To take the long view means you exercise a kind of situational awareness that has that long view.  Identify high crime dangerous areas to avoid.  Identify time periods that are worse than others and avoid transit during those time periods.  This could change so you have to continue to pay attention to crime trends. Often the change is worse.  How many bad guys are acting to initiate and maintain deadly force threats until they get what they want?  Lastly, if you must transit into or through high crime dangerous areas learn how to be efficient so that you’re not loitering in those areas of vulnerability.  An old pithy saying applies:  Out of sight out of mind.  

Florida High School Student Beats Teacher Unconscious for Taking Nintendo Switch

Proverbs Chapter 13: 24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Humilitas First focuses on leadership and legitimate defense.  This post is more about leadership or lack of authentic leadership. A major part of authentic leadership is about doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason and in the right way.

A 17 year old male who is six foot six inches tall and weighs 270 pounds threw a much smaller female teacher to the ground then he continually viciously beat her.  She was rendered unconscious by his violent actions.  Why would he do that?  Purportedly he was “upset with the victim because she took his Nintendo Switch away during class.”  Here is a link to one of the articles.  

I did a search trying to learn more about his parents.  I was able to find his mother is an occupational therapist.  No mention of a father.  Based upon my 26 year experience in Law Enforcement that is a major red flag.

Many years ago as a Sergeant I recall being dispatched to the report of a ten year old who was out of control and striking a teacher.  Upon arrival I had occasion to speak with a few of the teachers.  What I was told is that teachers were not permitted to go hands on with a student.  Rather they were to call for a restraint team where members were specially trained in the act of physically restraining violent students.  Really?  There is no way I’m letting a child repeatedly strike me while I call for and patiently await a restraint team.  That is madness.   That kind of permissiveness does no good service for little Johnny who is essentially being taught that there is no immediate accountability for his wicked actions.  No, little Johnny is going to get restrained or stopped immediately.  I’d get fired the first time a ten year old thinks I’m his punching bag.  

One of the teachers or teacher aides asked me what could be done?  I probably began explaining how the juvenile legal system works which was clearly not satisfying that teacher.  So I bluntly told them what they needed to do to fix this problem.  I said: You need to hire a very large male principal and equip him with a very large paddle! What you need is a restoration of corporal punishment!   They all got a good chuckle out of that one.  It was as if I’d just said something hilarious.  

This wisdom goes all the way back in God’s Word to Proverbs.  He who spares the rod hates his son.  He hates – his – son (or his daughter). Most of our modern education system adamantly disagrees with God’s Wisdom.

Romans 1: 21* for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23* and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

Specifically where did the rejection of corporal punishment in schools begin?  My suspicion is it began with Dr. Benjamin Spock who in 1946 wrote The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.  That’s funny because common sense literally comes from God.  Read the 28th Chapter of the book of Deuteronomy verses 15 and 28.  You’ll see that those who obey God’s Commandments receive a blessing while those who disobey God’s Commandments receive a curse.  One of the curses is 28 The LORD will smite you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind.  In other words you lose your common sense.  Those who are confused, blind, or crazy lack common sense.  One famous quote attributed to Dr. Spock is:  

“I don’t think physical punishment is necessary or particularly effective.”  

There are plenty of other like minded quotations from Dr. Spock.  I’m 55 years old and when I went to public elementary school back in 1973 we had a very large male principal who wielded a large paddle.  It took one time for me to behold this right, just, and good consequence and I had a renewed desire to do good and avoid doing bad things at that public elementary school.  

So what else happened in the public school system that has set the stage for all of the violence we see holding sway these last twenty five years?  In 1962 the United States Supreme Court declared there could be no official prayer in public schools.  Nature abhors a vacuum so if you evict God something will come in and fill that space.  Today we have no shortage of madness, blindness, and confusion of mind being taught in our public schools.  That is why my wife and I have chosen to home school.  

Those who fancy themselves sophisticated and educated while rejecting God and His Commandments lose their common sense and become incapable of understanding how their bad agenda’s and teachings are actually a form of hatred of the children they purport to love.  I can tell you growing up in the 1970s and early 1980s on more than one occasion I observed students who acted disrespectfully being tuned up by teachers.  We did not have to worry about school shootings nor did anyone dare lay a hand on a teacher and certainly not on a woman.   Now obviously you’re free to believe whatever you want to believe.  This is just one coach’s beliefs.  But ask yourself this question:  Where are we leading our children when things like this and worse are happening in our public schools from sea to shining sea?

Three questions all authentic leaders ought to frequently ask themselves:

  1. Where am I leading my people?
  2. Can I – SHOULD I?
  3. Why now? 

Teachers have a grave moral responsibility (a duty) to properly care for and educate their students.  Their students are their people.  I could run down some other rabbit holes based upon both my beliefs and my professional training. For instance it is my belief based on experience that one of the reasons (obviously there are others) young men turn to a gang is because they have often been raised by a single permissive parent and they crave someone to care enough to make some demands upon them. A gang provides very clear albeit a brutal disciplinary structure.  Children need and they crave discipline. Permissive parenting indulges children with their impulse control problems. Not all children are the same and they will need varying degrees of external discipline imposed with encouragement towards self-discipline as the ultimate goal.   Is this not common sense?

Another rabbit hole is based upon my professional training. I had an advanced gang school and was taught just how desperate young gang members are for a loving father who actually cares about them. The detectives putting on this school were from the Chicago area. They had discovered they could take a hard core gang member who would otherwise not cooperate or confess to their part in a crime and by pretending to care and essentially acting like a good father that young man so desperate for the love of a father would break down and cry and provide a full confession. How sad is that?

We have deep seated problems in our school systems as we do in our country and the world. It is this coaches solemn belief these problems begin going away when enough people repent and renew our commitment to doing things God’s way. The reason things are going so badly for us is because we have: “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.” May God give us the grace to accept and live the Truth.

Manipulating Bad Guys Mindset Part II

“If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”
Sun Tzu The Art of War

In Part I we looked primarily at the legal battlefield problems of stirring your adversary to anger.  In this post we’ll unpack how this is also a terrible idea on the physical battlefield.  We’ll also look at winning strategies on the physical battlefield and how we want to manipulate the bad guy’s mindset.

The late Col John Boyd, a military strategist who is touted as having changed the Art of War, gave the United States Military, business, and the rest of us winning fundamental principles.  Perhaps the most famous being the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act). Some have called this a decision making loop.  Boyd purportedly learned from interviews with retired German generals that words like offense or defense don’t really matter as much as a word like initiative.  Initiative is a winning principle!  Boyd taught in essence that a man or an army ought to “preserve our capacity for independent action.”  What does that mean?  It means we want to preserve our ability to act juxtaposed to constantly reacting.  When the timing is correct we begin acting in such a way that our adversary is constantly reacting. We use fast transitions which reset our adversary’s OODA Loop. That’s what getting inside his OODA Loop means to reset it in such a way that he’s confused because what he’s seeing or experiencing was not expected. For instance a robber turns in 90° simultaneously drawing, brandishing, or pointing his firearm (act) to begin dominating. But because he doesn’t immediately begin shooting at that point he’s in the decision making stage. When you initiate an unexpected transition he is instantly moved from deciding back to observe. Whatever that looks like it really needs to be unexpected. Unexpected things often cause temporary hesitation. So he sees and he’s striving to understand what he’s seeing or experiencing. That’s part of orientation. Before he can figure things out you’re transitioning again driving him hard and fast back down to observe. There’s an old saying ~ things speed up near the end. With a proper understanding of OODA things need to speed up which only serves to confuse him more. When done correctly he spends most of his little remaining time cycling through observe-orient, observe-orient, observe-orient. He begins to experience discouragement, despondency (losing hope), and ultimately despair (all hope is lost). Maybe he drops the gun, knife, or club at which time you cease defensive blows; or maybe he doesn’t. Time always tells the tale.

A few excerpts from Robert Coram’s book:

“Germany’s blitzkrieg attack against France in 1940 and the Israelis’ lightning fast raid at Entebbe Airport to free hostages seized by Uganda. In both instances the ability to transition quickly from one maneuver to another was a crucial factor in the victory.”

“Once the process begins, it must not slow. It must continue and it must accelerate.”

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram

I have to make a distinction here.  Humilitas First teaches another principle that ties in, interconnects, and compenetrates with initiative and that principle is called relative superiority.  Think of this like a violent kind of momentum.  Relative superiority must be both achieved and maintained which means a person has to understand things like subject factors and weapon factors for an honest accurate assessment of what is needed to win the fight. For instance, if a woman small in stature were to try to defend herself with empty hand techniques (punches, kicks, etc) against a man of large stature who is bigger, faster, and stronger she would decisively lose that fight regardless of what myths Hollywood puts forth for our belief.  However, put a firearm in that same woman’s hand and she then has the capacity for independent action.  She can absolutely dominate and win a deadly force encounter against a man regardless of how big, fast, and strong her male adversary is.  Without the firearm she does have the capacity to seize the initiative and land a punch or two though her efforts would stall out and she would fail to achieve relative superiority.  To win the fight achieving relative superiority is required but it also must be maintained.  If the balance of violent momentum should shift back to the unjust criminal aggressor (in this hypothetical the man) then the man wins the fight.  Even with the great equalizer (a firearm) should the woman deliver one defensive shot and then stop no longer possessing the will to continue shooting the threat; she would fail to maintain relative superiority. The man could then close the gap, take the firearm, and do whatever he wants with her.  That is an example of the violent momentum or relative superiority shifting back to the unjust criminal aggressor.  

“Once the process begins, it must not slow. It must continue and it must accelerate.”

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram

Looking at the physical battlefield, why would it be a terrible idea to provoke to anger a sociopath or psychopath (an unjust violent criminal)?  Criminals don’t care about social norms or laws.  They don’t have the same spiritual, mental, or emotional restraints as law abiding citizens.  Making an unjust criminal aggressor angry means he’s going to seize the initiative sooner.  If he’s also bigger, faster, and stronger or has friends then you are going to get seriously hurt or killed sooner thereby losing your capacity for independent action.  Is it a good idea to make your adversary afraid?  It depends.  For instance if I were to see a deadly force threat spinning up early enough to draw, present, and give loud verbal commands then I would do precisely that.  In many if not most circumstances proximity and time are going to be on his side because he gets to decide if and when he pulls out the weapon to rob you of your goods, freedom, or life.  There is also the question of whether the bad guy believes I have the fortitude to pull the trigger.  If he believes this is merely posturing then he may test that and make you pull that trigger.  Some bad guys will flee and some will make you prove it.  Now I’m talking about a situation where you clearly have the upper hand because you were in that rare circumstance where you were legally justified in brandishing or pointing your weapon at him and giving loud commands.  What happens when you don’t have the upper hand and he perceives you going for a weapon?  Your action is going to push him towards panic and his own action.  At this point we’re probably going to be in a gunfight at point blank range so we both may get shot and we both may die.  

If you plant the seeds for anger or fear in the mind of your unjust criminal adversary it is likely he’ll seize the initiative by acting violently early, first, and often.  With anger it will be due to his rage while with fear it will be due to panic.  The last thing that I want an unjust criminal aggressor with a weapon in his hands to do is to go first.  What emotion or mindset would I want an unjust criminal adversary to have at the time I initiate a vigorous defense?  If I have time & distance then I want to say or do things that cause confusion of mind. 

 “The LORD will smite you with madness and blindness, and confusion of mind.”  

Deuteronomy chapter 28: 28

One of the definitions of madness is a state of frenzied or chaotic activity.  If I can create some chaos which will be very distracting to him, that’s what I’m going to do.  For instance say a stranger follows one of my adult children home and now he’s confronting my child in the driveway.  I might activate the panic button on my parked car in the drive which causes the horn to incessantly sound which covers the noise of me opening whatever door he can’t presently see. If it’s nighttime the headlights and tail lights are also flashing creating this artificial frenzied and chaotic activity. This is not going to be within his set of expectations.  He’s having to observe frenzied or chaotic activity which will buys me time in his confusion (orientation) to move to a position to see his hands. Innocents can create artificial chaos and use that to their advantage in escaping, rescuing, or just winning the fight. Think of this like a poor man’s flash bang when circumstances permit.  Blindness in a self-defense sense works if I’m not the initial target. If I found someone to be highly suspicious guess where I’d like to be? Behind him. Legitimate self-defense or defense of others is not a sport – it is a matter of life or death. So I’m never going to seek a fair fight. Seeking a fair fight with an unjust criminal aggressor, sociopath, or psychopath is for amateurs, outsiders, and mere tourists. That is a gross error. I’d want to acquire a position where I can see him but he cannot see me.  In most dealings with unjust criminals the primary goal is confusion. Why? It’s going to be more common than you having the opportunity to use artificial chaos or superior rear positions when you’re transiting through society. In essence he’s studied the terrain, funnels, and choke points and you’re going to have react to things as he develops them. I want him in that place that he’s never seen or imagined and doesn’t know what to do next.  Why?  Hesitation.  There are opportunities to avoid or to win the fight within hesitations.  Time is a precious commodity in any kind of pending violent confrontation.  I’m looking to stack time my way even if it’s precious milliseconds or just a few seconds.  The farther out we can identify a potential pending problem the more time we have but in an urban area or inside of a building we’re talking about seconds rather than minutes.  

What if I don’t have time & distance?   For instance say I was distracted and didn’t see the potential threat developing or he is just that good at setting an ambush and now he’s three or four yards away turning to face me simultaneously drawing and presenting a gun which all happens in less than one second.  What now?  What do I want the bad guy thinking in that circumstance?  I want him thinking this robbery is going to go exactly like every other robbery, just another easy day.  In other words I’m initially complying.  I might comply the whole time and just be a good witness.  The criteria for that decision is too much for this post.  Suffice to say I want his mind to become complacent or overconfident so that he believes all is well and he lowers the gun from pointing at my chest or face to pointing at the ground.  He’ll want to do this to avoid witnesses seeing this and calling 911.  I just need to help him do what he already wants to do.  My initial compliance helps him do this. Why do I want him to be complacent or overconfident?  Because I’m looking to renew my capacity for independent action.  I’m looking to improve my situation so that I have the option of STOPPING the threat by simultaneously moving offline, drawing, presenting, and shooting thereby initiating a defensive surprise party.  Maybe I move left, right, and/or like a retreating Bill Drill. It depends. It depends on things like which hand he’s holding the gun with and the terrain find myself standing on.

“Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant,” Sun Tzu. 

Confusion buys a temporary kind of hesitation which stacks milliseconds in your favor.  If defense is the decision then the best chance I have of this ending as a shooting (not a gunfight) is to use surprise, speed, and violence of action.  These three make up the last of Humilitas First 12 Principles for Legitimate Defense.  When a violent attack cannot be avoided we want to seize the initiative.  We go first, second, and we go last! 

Reach out today at heaton0342@gmail.com for a free consultation for your corporate, group, family, or individual training needs.  Training can be custom tailored to suit your needs.  

Manipulating a Bad Guys Mindset Part I

“If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Every tactical or strategic question in the world can be answered with just two words.  It depends.  That is not to dodge questions, it is the truth.  A good coach should then be able to start unpacking the things that it depends upon.  Providing when and why they’d use this, that, or the other tactic or strategy.  We have to look at the context. The rules of war are different from criminal laws.  In the United States of America state statutes vary from one state to the next.  In war, irritating your adversary might be the right strategy as it may cause him to act too soon, recklessly, or to make mistakes.  When it comes to protecting your family and yourself as a civilian, saying or doing things to aggravate your adversary is a quick way to lose on the legal battlefield.  The second part of the quote is what interests me for the vast majority of civilian deadly force encounters: Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.    For those who would immediately question this in the interest of brevity I’ll just say it’s a timing thing. In this post I’ll begin unpacking how this applies to civilian use of defensive force in the United States of America.

With just a wee bit of introspection we’ll recognize that when we get angry we don’t think so well.  Likewise, when we’re afraid we don’t think so well.  Fear often underlies anger.  Nearly all of the arguments between my wife and I began with some underlying fear that one of us was struggling with.  Maybe I don’t think her great idea is affordable.  Maybe I think her idea is actually unsafe.  Those underlying fears lead me to anger and then I don’t think so well.  That compounds the problem because I then lose the ability to articulate why this, that, or the other idea is actually a bad idea.  What does this have to do with legitimate self-defense?  Fear and anger are the two primary emotions that are most likely to result in your untimely death or a prison sentence.  Those who are afraid hesitate or fail to act which often results in injury or death.  Those who are afraid panic acting with violence of action too early resulting in prison.  Sometimes angry folks act to defend when defending would be ill advised resulting in injury or death.  In other words if an innocent person of good will fails to do an accurate assessment of the violent problem and commensurate solutions, they may find out too late that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.  The likelihood of injury or death increases when you get the timing wrong by immediately acting when a pause is needed or failing to act when action is immediately required. Also, you have to do the time consuming work of building skills to be able to perform those skills under life and death circumstances. Training that focuses more on marketing and novelty than truth can build false confidence and false confidence can be a major problem in a life and death fight.

I retired from Law Enforcement after a twenty six year career.  Police officers do not pretend to be weak.  Quite the opposite, we project (and have) confidence regarding the physical battlefield.  Part of that confidence stems from the acceptance and willingness that if someone is bigger, faster, and stronger, losing isn’t an option.  The ultimate option for an officer is deadly force via the firearm.  Police officers have to make arrests which means the very nature of their work involves potentially violent confrontations with unjust criminal aggressors.  Bad guys don’t want to be detained, cited, or arrested.  For that reason the law is designed so that officers don’t have to worry about being perceived as an aggressor or mutual combatant.  On the other hand civilians do have to concern themselves with what they say or do because these may define them in the eyes of the law as an aggressor or as a  mutual combatant.  Why?  Simple, if it’s clear you were the initial aggressor or a mutual combatant you lose the ability to make the legal claim of self-defense or defense of another.  Self-defense isn’t defined by what you think in your head or how you feel about the incident – it’s a legal term defined by the statutes of your state.  In Illinois, statutory language offers a way back from mistakenly entering into conflict as the aggressor or mutual combatant.  I’m no attorney and I don’t have time for a deep dive into Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/7-4 but a small part of it says: 

 “(c) (2) in good faith, he withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.”  

It’s better to avoid saying or doing things that move you into the category of aggressor or mutual combatant.  Witnesses will be more likely to see or hear the insults, gestures, or other acts of aggression as you and your adversary “step outside to settle this like men.” Those witnesses may not be present for your showing a clear desire to withdraw and terminate the fight.  That part might be disputed if your adversary lives or your word only if he dies.    

The legal battlefield as it pertains to violence is fraught with risks.  Those risks are increasing for innocent people of good will in many and various leftist jurisdictions throughout this country.  Why?  Progressive activist district attorney’s are confusing good guys and bad guys.  If you decide to own or carry a firearm for protection you need to bulk up on knowledge relating to the legal battlefield.  I recommend clients purchase the book The Law of Self-Defense by attorney Andrew Branca.  I let my clients know this book is a good starting point.  Another great resource is a book called Violence of Mind by author Varg Freeborn.  Mr. Freeborn has a lot of free content available through interviews on podcasts and other social media.  This content offers folks a glimpse into the criminal world as Mr. Freeborn shares his own experience with violence, the criminal justice system, and ultimately a prison sentence. That leads to another quote by Sun Tzu, The Art of War:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

If you’ve taken a concealed carry course and believe you’ve reached the fullness of knowledge on the legal battlefield that is a serious mistake.  A concealed carry course is a bare bones introduction to some of the concepts that your state legislature has approved as an acceptable curriculum.  I also recommend to my clients to consider following Andrew Branca on free social media platforms like YouTube as a kind of hobby.  Why?  Mr. Branca breaks down criminal cases and other violent incidents in the news which provides an application of the principles he teaches in his book.  I cannot overemphasize how important it is for you to bulk up on the legal battlefield. For instance, I retired as a Lieutenant co-leading our Professional Standards Division, Internal Affairs.  I did the work to become a craftsman in the profession of Law Enforcement.  I understood the laws associated with police officer use of force.  

Upon retirement an acquaintance asked if I intended on purchasing concealed carry insurance.  Not knowing what I didn’t know, in arrogance I said:  No, if I have to use my firearm as a civilian I’ll likely receive a good Samaritan award.  After a few months it dawned on me that I had not actually done the work of identifying the underlying fundamental principles involved in civilian claims of self-defense.  Certainly I understood the basics of deadly force but I didn’t yet understand some of the subtle distinctions between acting as an officer and acting as a civilian. Also, as a police officer where I had served we didn’t have hostile activist prosecutors that might take some liberties with the prosecutor’s discretion in an attack on an innocent defender showing bias and favor towards the bad guys.   In 2017 that was just beginning to ramp up in our Country.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  I set about reading, highlighting, and annotating three dozen self-defense cases in my home state of Illinois.  I did this before I read attorney Andrew Branca’s book and found the same fundamental principles.  Suffice to say I came to understand concealed carry insurance was a worthy investment as it relates to using any kind of force in a violent confrontation.  The laws for justifiable use of force have some profound distinctions between police officers acting in the line of duty and civilians.  Understanding what makes you an aggressor or mutual combat is a matter of freedom or incarceration.

In the Illinois statute two important words that jump out to me are “initially provokes.” Imagine another driver cuts you off in traffic so you speed up to pull alongside to express your displeasure.  Guess who initially provoked the incidentIt’s you!  You are the aggressor.  Instead imagine you are at a tavern and become involved in a verbal disagreement with another patron who says to you:  Would you like to step outside and settle this like men?  You might say: Yes, I’d like that very much!  Or you might tacitly agree by standing up and following him out the back door to the alley.  Either way you are now a mutual combatant.  If you end up fighting and you win the fight which results in his injury or death you are NOT going to be able to claim self-defense or Justifiable Use of Force: Exoneration.  

In the second part I’ll continue to unpack why civilians should NOT initially provoke or stir to anger an unjust criminal aggressor.