Why Don’t Police Shoot for the Leg?

I read a story over at Fox News by David Rutz, about recent comments made involving the Ma’Khai Bryant police shooting in Columbus, Ohio. During my police career (1991-2017) officers received training to stop deadly force threats.  In this post I’ll take a look at some of the reasons protectors stop threats as efficiently as is possible. I’ll include a few excerpts from Rutz article along with some thoughts.

“The View” Joy Behar wondered why the officer who killed Bryant didn’t “…Shoot the gun in the air, warning, tase a person, shoot them in the leg, shoot them in the behind. Stop them somehow. But if the only solution is to kill a teenager, there’s something wrong with this.1

Warning shots were prohibited by Department policy. Police are responsible for every round they fire. That responsibility extends to unintended consequences and the potential for collateral damage. That is why protectors should not use warning shots under tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving violent confrontations. Are there any agencies in the United States that even allow warning shots in 2021?

Shooting someone in the leg or“behind,” juxtaposed to immediately stopping the threat, may still result in death via damage to major arteries (Eg; femoral artery), a bullet deflecting, shattering, or splintering bones, all of which could still end up damaging major arteries or a vital organ. But the real reason police don’t shoot to wound has to do with efficiently stopping the threat. If bullets need sent then the only direction to send them is into the person presenting an unjust imminent threat of great bodily harm (Illinois statute), or death. Unjust is a qualifying term. Words matter.

Men and women of good will who would take up arms to defend need to understand what Carl Von Clausewitz wrote in his book On War;

War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.2

How do you know the strength of a man’s will? In my professional experience I could make probable guesses on a man’s physical strength but occasionally I would be surprised. Once I physically locked up with a man, I knew immediately his strength, speed, and agility juxtaposed to my strength, speed, and agility. But the will is a different animal altogether. We come to know a man’s will as it is proven out in the combat.

Unjust criminal aggressors have no legitimate moral, ethical, or legal rights to threaten great bodily harm, or death, as a means of achieving their covetous desires for your material goods, your body (pleasure or ego), or your life. They have no moral or legal rights to rob, rape, or murder an innocent. Innocent is a qualifying term. Innocent police and innocent citizens absolutely have moral and legal rights to stop their unjust criminal aggressors from causing them great bodily harm, or death.

To understand something you often have to go back to the beginning. Humanity seems to have a problem with remembering her history. We ought to strive to see our Constitutional rights through our unalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.3

As Americans, we have an unalienable right endowed by God to life. I would argue implicit in that right to life, is a right to the means of defending our life (think 2nd Amendment). The Declaration of Independence (1776) preceded the United States Constitution (1787). Throughout our history, had our nation remembered and used these truths to illumine decision making as it relates to Constitutional types of questions, we wouldn’t have made as many major errors. For instance, slavery could have been rightly eradicated earlier in our history, as the word liberty means freedom. Likewise, had our nation remembered these unalienable truths in the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe V Wade, we would not have the evil of abortion, an unjust law, in the land of the free and home of the brave.

As it relates to the things of God we could go back to the Psalms:

Psalm 82: 2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? [Selah] 3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

There really is nothing new under the sun. In this republic based upon the rule of law – life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness have both moral and legal limits. A citizen can lose their right to pursue happiness, and liberty, by choosing the criminal life. This is why we rightly build prisons. Likewise, those who present an unjust imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death to an innocent can lose their right to life. God certainly recognizes legitimate defense of others and self. As a Catholic, the Church teaches in part: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others.4” In the case of a police officer this includes all innocent citizens, brothers and sisters in arms, and a right to protect one’s own innocent life. For a husband and father or mother and wife that includes one’s spouse and children. Self-defense is a well established legal term. The laws of all fifty States recognize to one degree or another this legal concept of self-defense. In the state of Illinois you find statutory language covering these things under 720 ILCS 5/ Article 7 Justified Use of Force; Exoneration.


Less lethal options such as a taser or bean bag shotgun apply when the unjust criminal aggressor does not yet represent an imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death, to an innocent. Seeing and acting early provides the opportunity for less lethal options which ought not be wasted with a goofy loop (search this site to learn more about goofy loops).

If we’re going to look for solutions we have to reason back from the effect to the cause. I recall hearing Catholic Priest and exorcist Father Chad Ripperger recently say in an interview:

The effect is never greater than the cause. The cause is always greater than the effect that’s the first principle of metaphysics.5

What’s the effect?  Officers shoot an unjust criminal aggressor in defense of self or another innocent person. What’s the cause? The unjust threat of great bodily harm, or death is the cause for the immediate action required to stop that threat. Unjust desire alone isn’t enough! If a bad guy is killing me with his eyes that’s not an imminent deadly force threat. When his behaviors or actions reasonably add up to an imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death, that’s the underlying cause or problem that demands a decision and commensurate action. The unjust imminent deadly threat is the cause.

Police officers train to stop the threat. It is not mere semantics to say police seek to stop the threat, while paradoxically having a willingness to deliver lethal blow(s).  Police officers secure suspects, render aid, and facilitate life saving help via paramedics.  Police cease firing as soon as is humanly possible. In other words police stop as soon as they eliminate the threat. Stopping the threat is a radical distinction from how a soldier on a foreign battlefield might resolve the problem of a threat of great bodily harm, or death.

How are threats eliminated? The first and preferable way is through voluntarily compliance by the unjust aggressor. I call that a psychological stoppage. Police and all people of good will, should remain watchful for clear and convincing signs of surrender once an imminent deadly force threat exists. With a psychological stoppage we see a 180° turn or change in the unjust criminal aggressor’s will. He fully abandons his threat of great bodily harm, or death, towards the innocent officer, man, woman, or child. This is where the unjust aggressor drops the gun, knife, or bludgeon. He ceases advancing. He ceases compressing time, distance, and cover with his perceived innocent victim. He stops reaching for the gun and shows his hands. If he’s been shot he asks for medical assistance. In other words, he immediately, voluntarily, and fully withdraws the unjust imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death.

What priority of life would you suggest police adopt in a republic under the rule of law? If I were chief for a day, here’s how I would order priority of life:

  1. All innocents
  2. Self
  3. Unjust criminal aggressors (last)

As a Catholic my Faith teaches in part: “…it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow.6” Are you willing to gamble with your people, or your own life? When time is of the essence, and the underlying cause is an unjust imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death, I would hope a good guy with a gun would not attempt to influence the unjust aggressor, but rather do their best to stop him, or her.

The difference between life and death in deadly force confrontations is often measured in milliseconds to just a few seconds. Therefore, a police officer or innocent citizen of good will defending must act as efficiently as is humanly possible in eliminating deadly force threats. How is this not common sense? The answer lay in Deuteronomy chapter 28 verses 15 and 28, which talks about madness, blindness, and confusion of mind. A part of the answer lay in a false compassion for the unjust criminal aggressors and increasingly a confusion between justice and vengeance. In part justice means:

“As a virtue, it is the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due.7

For the unjust aggressor who maintains an imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death, with no clear and convincing signs of a change in his will, we come to the second way of eliminating the threat. I call this second way a physiological stoppage.

In short a physiological stoppage involves delivering lethal blow(s) to efficiently stop the threat.  In Law Enforcement (L.E.) training we learned traditional means such as the failure drill. The failure drill was purportedly named the Mozambique Drill by the late Col. Jeff Cooper based upon the country from which this lesson originated8. For a single threat this drill consisted of targeting two rounds center mass with one round targeting the head. When dealing with multiple threats we were taught something different than the failure drill. In L.E. we were taught about the “T” intersection and expected physiological effects of sending a round into this area. In 2015, we learned a narrower and higher targeting called the thoracic area. This was a departure from the traditional targets of the bread box, as it were, which anatomically included the intestines.

Anatomically we know the thoracic area begins with the heart extending upwards including the spine, brain stem, and brain.  If you want more knowledge reach out via my email on the contact or training page and after a free consultation, I provide a custom tailored course for your specific needs.  I’m not giving away any great secrets as most unjust criminal aggressors already know what works as part of the criminal life and time spent in prison. Gang members have revealed through interviews what sources they look to in becoming more efficient killers and among those sources is the study of anatomy.

In general, a physiological stoppage efficiently stops the threat via incapacitation of the unjust criminal aggressor. Physiologically, a persons unjust will no longer matters when they’re paralyzed and unable to raise their arm and shoot, stab, or club you. Physiologically, a persons unjust will no longer matters when they’re unconscious, dying, or dead. When the heart, spine, or brain starts having a problem functioning properly a persons will doesn’t work so well.

Paraphrasing Clausewitz; all combat comes down to the will.  In a deadly force encounter, how do we target a man’s will? We seek to efficiently remove that unjust will. Ultimately, the outcome on whether the unjust man or woman live or die is God’s business. An unjust aggressor remains free to choose the psychological stoppage at any point in a deadly force confrontation. People of good will must not engage in vengeance or revenge. To engage in vengeance or revenge is to give uncontrolled anger primacy of place. In antiquity the word meekness meant controlled strength.  We must control our anger. God’s Word tells us vengeance is God’s business, not mans business. If we reject that truth and engage in vengeance we will have both a moral problem with God, and a legal problem with the state.

Why exactly must an unjust imminent threat of great bodily harm be stopped so efficiently? Time is a precious commodity in any deadly force confrontation. How long does it take an unjust criminal aggressor to pull, raise, and get to first shot with a firearm? At best, a quarter to a third of a second. How long at arms reach might an unjust aggressor deliver a lethal blunt or edged blow? At best, a quarter to a third of a second. A just defender who hesitates due to any number of legal, civil, or social fears (politics) or due to misguided deescalation training, abdicates his grave moral duty to protect innocent life and the initiative to win the fight over to the unjust criminal aggressor. Initiative is important to winning.

On my YouTube channel I breakdown deadly force encounters with first strikes often measured in milliseconds. The difference between winning and losing, living and dying, is often defined forever in just a few seconds. Windows of opportunity to win and live open and close quickly.


Action beats reaction: A person reacting has to observe (stimulus), orient, decide, and act (John Boyd’s OODA Loop). That involves reaction time. Reaction time when breaking down videos is often around three-quarters of a second. Professionally, L.E. training estimated officer response times averaging 1.5 seconds. This is why officers respond to the unjust imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death. Waiting for the assault (Eg; pointing his firearm directly at you) means giving away initiative.

Deescalation is big buzzword these days. The time for deescalation comes before an imminent threat of great bodily harm, or death exists. Once that threat exists, the only choice is to stop the threat! This presumes a window of opportunity is open for the defender. It’s unwise to try draw on a drawn firearm. If a would-be robber is pointing a firearm at me I’m going to comply, hand him my wallet and be a good witness. If he remains an unjust deadly force threat and a window of opportunity opens, that opportunity may result in a different action for my part. Again, I’m not talking about vengeance I’m talking about rightly responding to an imminent deadly force threat.

Back to the article; Mr. Rutz writes:

Earlier in the week, a reporter asked Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods whether an officer could shoot a limb rather than to kill. “Can an officer shoot the leg, can they shoot somewhere that would not result in a fatal wound?” asked the unidentified reporter, noting that observers have asked the same question. “We don’t train to shoot the leg because that’s a small target,” Woods said. “We train to shoot center mass, what is available to stop that threat … There was a deadly force threat that was going on, so the officer is trained to shoot center mass.9

I would add, if anatomy showed the heart, brain, or brain stem located in the upper leg area police would begin aiming for the upper leg area. Why? To efficiently as is possible stop the unjust threat of great bodily harm, or death to an innocent.

In conclusion, I understand the political reasons those who sit in leadership seats would want to avoid hard sayings. Hard sayings in 2021, are inconvenient and very much out of season. We will never build any real trust or relationships so long as we continue avoiding truth. Men sitting in leadership seats who play stump the chump or suppress the truth with their people do no one any good service. We waste our time with feel good buzzwords (community policing, accountability, transparency, et al), and things continue to go from bad to worse. A spiritual principle applies here: the truth will make you free (John 8: 32). Jesus is Truth. All truth that truly is; subsists in He Who is Truth. Time is precious in deadly force confrontation. Things like initiative, timeliness, & efficiently stopping threats must be considered when we talk about tactics for all people of good will. Innocent citizens have a right to life in these United States that goes all the way back to the Declaration of Independence.

Think about these things.

1Columbus police shooting prompts media pundits to offer ‘TV-inspired nonsense’ on police tactics By David Rutz https://www.foxnews.com/media/columbus-shooting-media-repeating-discredited-officers-legs

2On War, Carl Von Clausewitz

3Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

4Excerpt from #2265 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

5Fr Chad Ripperger and Dr Taylor Marshall Talk about Latin Mass, Latin, Exorcisms, Books, Prayer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUpsrW90uGQ

6Excerpt from #2264 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

7Justice – Modern Catholic Dictionary Fr. John A Hardon, S.J.


9Columbus police shooting prompts media pundits to offer ‘TV-inspired nonsense’ on police tactics By David Rutz https://www.foxnews.com/media/columbus-shooting-media-repeating-discredited-officers-legs

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

What do folks do who don’t desire to own or carry a firearm? Below are four public safety rules to help avoid violent confrontations. It is my opinion that a firearm is a great equalizer for smaller, weaker, slower, or outnumbered innocent persons. Pepper spray, edged or blunt tools, even hard surfaces are potential defensive weapons. Ultimately, your greatest weapon is your intellect and your will. A weak minded, or weak willed man gives away initiative, and perhaps loses his firearm to an unjust criminal aggressor. Please consider seeking out competent professional training for your self protection needs.

1. Avoid Dangerous Areas

Dangerous geographical areas are plagued by lawlessness. I prioritize the most dangerous areas as those with the highest illegal shots fired calls for service and unjust shootings. Why? Collateral damage. Regardless of a persons level of knowledge and skills, none of us can control where bullets go once they exit the muzzle of an unskilled and unjust criminal aggressor. Those crimes don’t occur in a vacuum. Included in those geographical areas will be a number of other violent, injurious, and deadly crimes.

Pro tip: Know your location. What street are you on? What is the nearest cross street and are you north, south, east, or west of that cross street? What address are you visiting? In recent years 911 county dispatch centers have made giant leaps in identifying a cellular callers location, though this still varies from one county to the next. Computers can and do go down. Know – your – location.

2. Avoid Dangerous Men

Trust your gut (if you’re Catholic trust your Guardian Angel; an angel is a messenger of God). Ignore all forms of political correctness that would urge you to let your guard down when your gut is telling you this, that, or the other person(s) are trying to isolate or corner you. Much like defensive driving tactics you have to observe farther down the road, that you might avoid and escape violent confrontations.

YouTube Grab

3. Avoid Dangerous Times

Avoid dangerous geographical areas from dusk ‘till dawn. Why? Generally there is an increase in party spirits, angry spirits, and lawless spirits. Folks having these types of dispositions have to sleep sometime, so it’s my preference to visit family or patronize businesses in these areas during early morning business hours.

4. Limit Time in Areas of Vulnerability

When driving into a dangerous geographical area realize proximity is king and time is a precious commodity. Efficiently organize and stage any items in your vehicle you are taking inside to family, work, or a business. This enables you to grab the item(s) and go. Sitting unaware in a parked vehicle gifts opportunities to unjust criminal aggressors to compress in, or to tactically stage, along your logical foot path. Strategies ought to limit or remove unjust criminal aggressor’s opportunities.

There are no guarantees, as vengeance and violence continue to ramp up, this scripture is sage advice:

Luke 21: 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.

Social Norms and Learning to be Unpredictable

Unjust criminal aggressors have no problem using social norms (folkways, mores, taboos, and even laws), to gain tactical advantages in positioning, timing, and over the will of their innocent victims. Unjust criminal aggressors understand the advantages of being unpredictable, and the gift of being underestimated. They understand the value of sandbagging or hiding their true intentions, skills, and weapons until there is nothing much you can do about it. The world today seems to be accommodating to criminals. In this post I’m going to talk about my introduction to rejecting the urge to comply with social norms.

I like simple definitions. In searching for what is a folkway, I strive to find the root meaning of words. In an article by Shanell Sanchez titled Social Norms: Folkways, Mores, Taboo, and Laws, I found what I was searching for. Folkways are normally perceived as rude. Mores are normally perceived as offensive. Taboos are normally perceived as something that will upset people.1 There are tactical advantages which can be gained in dealing with sketchy folks of the ambush predator type in being a bit rude, offensive, and upsetting. Primarily in ways that limit or remove opportunities for those sketchy folks to gain advantages in positioning, timing, or over our ‘will.’

In terms of law – think traffic laws. In Law Enforcement there are exemptions for emergency vehicles regarding traffic laws. We most certainly used those exemptions to our advantages. Now that I’m a retired LEO, am I willing to break a traffic law to keep my family safe from an unjust criminal predator? Yes! Officers have discretion and I’d be happy to explain why breaking a traffic law was necessary and the right thing to do. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll explain it to the judge. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll pay the ticket. Is a fine and mark against my driving record worth the rare instance where breaking a traffic law will protect my family or myself from an ambush predator? Yes, absolutely! In Law Enforcement when we broke traffic laws it was still with regard for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians. At O’ dark thirty in any big city USA, there may be no other motorists on the road as far as we can see. However, there might be a male 15-50 tactically staged for a street robbery or vehicular hijacking at the next blind corner. There may be a male 15-50 compressing / closing in direct alignment or a near pass with my vehicle which is a common ruse to gain point blank range where you can be threatened and dominated. If disobeying a traffic law can be done with regard for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, then it may well be the right thing to do.

In July of 1991, at 24 years old I was offered and accepted a job with the Springfield Police Department in Springfield, Illinois. I was sent to the Illinois State Police Academy, class 400-34. Our class motto was Honor, Pride, Esprit de Corps. Following graduation our class began the Field Training Program. Part of my experience included a brief opportunity with a Field Training Officer assigned to the Neighborhood Team Policing Unit (NTP). NTP was a small specialized unit. In 1991, NTP exclusively served the citizens of the John Hay Homes (public housing). NTP would later branch out to include working other violent hot spots in areas such as Evergreen Terrace and Brandon (public housing). NTP was the direct precursor to Springfield’s Gang Enforcement Mobile Unit (GEM). GEM was the precursor to Springfield’s modern day Street Crimes Unit (SCU).

Former John Hay Homes – YouTube grab

My introduction to tactically rejecting social norms came when a NTP-FTO said to me;

We’re going to get out with a suspect standing on the corner who has an active warrant for his arrest. I need you to grab hold of his arm, before you say anything. No talking. Do not say one word to him. If you say anything to him he will break, and he will run. Do you understand?

I acknowledged I understood. But did I? No. No, I did not! So guess what happened? As I approached the suspect, I said something authoritative like:

Put your hands on the car!

The suspect broke, and he ran. Thankfully, in those days I was fit enough to run him down, tackle him, and forcibly subdue him.

It did not feel right to grab hold of someone without saying something. Isn’t that rude, offensive, and perhaps upsetting? Because those authoritative words meant nothing to this young man, in reality, all I did was gift wrap initiative for him. The initiative to break, and run. The NTP-FTO was trying to teach me the difference between how a civilian thinks and how a police officer thinks. He was trying to teach me about a paradigm shift that I’d need to make if I desired to be competent as a police officer. At that time I had much to learn about social norms and initiative.

Had I listened, I would have gained an advantageous position (having hold of one of his arms). So long as I could hold on to that arm for a second or two, then the NTP-FTO could bring his intentions, skills, and weapons to bear. The deck would have been stacked against this wanted person with two innocents against one. Bad guys and galls have no problem using multiples to forcibly subdue innocent victims so why do we have a problem using multiple innocents to subdue an unjust criminal aggressor? Does it seem a bit unfair to our love for competition? I think the NTP-FTO was trying to teach me the difference between a competitive mindset and a winning mindset.

Why did I fail so horribly at such a simple task? Why couldn’t I just do what the NTP-FTO asked me to do? I still had a civilian mindset. The act of just grabbing a hold of this guys arm before saying anything felt odd, awkward, and outside all social norms – rude, offensive, and upsetting! When you grow up in tactics, as it were, you set aside the competitive mindset and adopt a winning mindset.

I still had a good amount of ‘buy in’ regarding a competitive mindset. The whole idea of tactics is to gain an advantage in positioning, timing, or over the will of an adversary. So why would I desire to intermix competition with winning? Part of the answer is ego. The good ego puts out in the service and sacrifice for others. The bad part of our ego is self-serving and the ugly part of our ego is how we feel due to the lies our ego’s tell us.

For my part, I couldn’t give what I did not have. There’s an awesome old Latin saying: Nemo dat quod non habet ~ No man gives what he does not have. Today I explain these things in a principle I call Throttle Control. There is absolute tactical gold in learning how to be odd, awkward, and unpredictable, and in doing that which is the least expected.

Ironically, several months later this same FTO was instrumental in bringing me into the NTP unit. At the conclusion of NTP, in 1994, he had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and went on to found and lead the Gang Enforcement Mobile Unit. Neighborhood Team Policing was where I cut my teeth, as it were. The experiences gained in this small six man unit taught me to be comfortable being odd, awkward, and unpredictable. NTP substantially served as my formation in Law Enforcement.

Me in the Neighborhood Team Policing Office – back in the day…

NTP targeted the most dangerous members of the community. Unit focus was on gang members, drug dealers, shooters, stolen firearms, firearms offenses, and drug interdiction. Our unit made hundreds of arrests. In the early 1990’s The Springfield Police Department published an annual top ten list for officers making the most arrests. In 1993, I had the second highest arrests on the department with a total of 246 (#1 top slot had 262). I had 196 misdemeanor, and 50 felony arrests. Two NTP teammates held the third (243), and fifth (214) top ten spots respectively. Both of these men had been hired on with me and we’re graduates of class 400-34. During our tenure team efforts resulted in the seizures of an abundance of crack cocaine, numerous firearms, and asset forfeitures of thousands of dollars in assets regarding both money and vehicles.

Former John Hay Homes – YouTube grab

What does all of this have to do with you the citizen just looking to protect your family and yourself? There are substantial advantages to be gained in learning how to become unpredictable. For instance stopping short at an intersection in a bad part of town, at night, when a male 15-50 is preparing to cross perpendicular to your vehicle, at the crosswalk. Stopping 70 feet short is odd, awkward, and least expected. That’s just one example.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add some context. This doesn’t mean being odd, awkward, and unpredictable in every circumstance, all the time. That would be really bad for both our social life and our relationships. Context matters. If we use Jeff Cooper’s color codes of situational awareness, we live and move, in condition yellow (aware). Depending on the environment we live and move in, it might be a very long time before we see a specific potential threat (color code orange). Some men make a statement to those around them through how they dress, adorn themselves, speak, and act that they’re a dangerous man not to be trifled with. So for that guy is it reasonable for me to maintain a six foot reactionary gap? Yes, that is reasonable. Maintaining a six foot reactionary gap could be deemed to be rude, offensive, and upsetting to some people. And I care why? If you choose to hold yourself out as a dangerous man why wouldn’t I believe you? Why wouldn’t I give you the respect and wide berth your demanding?

Political correctness (PC) is a curse and a pox upon the land – reject it in all of it’s various forms. PC may be deemed rude, offensive, and upsetting. Do you want to win or not? Winning can be as simple as avoiding dangerous men, dangerous places, at dangerous times, and by limiting time spent in areas of vulnerability.

Let’s imagine that I handled the arrest of the wanted man correctly, what might that have looked like? It would have looked a lot like a common ruse unjust ambush predators use. A disinterested near pass with a 90° cut at the critical apex point. Without a word spoken, I’d have grabbed hold of his arm and we’d go from there, based upon whatever he did next.

In general the same tactics and tools of violence can all be used for good or for evil. It comes down to the disposition and status of the one wielding the tactic or tool. What is the intention of the man or woman using the tactic or tool? Is the intention legitimate defense of self or others? Is the intention to rob, rape, or murder an innocent? Is the intention revenge or vengeance? Is the intention for a street reputation or gang initiation? Is the intention over some slight or offense given in response to entertaining the bad and ugly parts of a mans ego or is that man in actual jeopardy? Is the status of the person a mutual combatant, or are they an innocent man or woman justly using legitimate defense? These questions are a matter of spiritual life or death on the moral battlefield. As soon as the combat is finished (physical battlefield) presuming you win or survive, these questions are a matter of freedom or incarceration on that next legal battlefield. These questions may be a matter of financial stability or bankruptcy on the civil battlefield. And these questions may be a matter of gainful employment or beginning anew on the social battlefield. Choose – wisely.

Think about these things.

1Shanell Sanchez titled Social Norms: Folkways, Mores, Taboo, and Laws

A Man of Faith makes the best Warrior

Why? Consider the mindset of a man who actually believes that to die, is to gain. Saint Paul believed this as we read in Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ: and to die is gain. Our actions often prove out what we actually believe. We often lack faith. A friend in Law Enforcement who had served with me on the Neighborhood Team Police unit, and later became one of our Police Academy instructors, on occasion said: A man of Faith makes the best warrior. I reached out to my friend recently and asked him if he remembered his exact quote. He told me he wasn’t sure but he always believed if you knew where you were going, it freed your mind of fear and made it easier to focus on the task at hand.


In the early years I most assuredly to my shame was not a man of Faith. I have reflected on this idea many times since those young years. Here is what I’ve come to know. A major part of this comes down to belief. It’s not a coincidence that Jesus first public words of preaching were in part:

Repent, and believe the gospel. [Mark 1:15]

Recently I watched a cool time lapse video of a tattoo being applied bearing the words; Death Before Dishonor.

YouTube Grab

This kind of image and adornment plays to our ego. The good ego (in service of others), the bad (needy insecure part that desires to posture for reassurance and face saving), and the ugly, how the ego makes us feel.

The ugly part of our ego tells us a lie. The lie is if we’re unprepared to physically defend against mere insult, offense, or verbal attacks on honor (reputation in this sense) then we – are – a – coward. The lie makes you feel like a coward.

New pilots learning to fly an airplane in low or no visibility have to first become instrument qualified. They learn that when they have no visibility they may feel like the airplane is in a steep dive but actually it is flying straight and level. They might feel like they’re flying straight and level and be in a steep dive. They learn they must have a kind of skepticism for their feelings and instead of trusting these feelings they direct their attention to checking and cross checking these feelings with a reliance upon their instruments. This is a very good analogy for dealing with the lie that we’re a coward if we don’t go to war over insults.

First of all, Jesus taught that we ought to turn the other cheek as it relates to insults or offense. I believe the generation of men when Jesus walked on the earth viewed a slap as an insult. Today we suffer a loss of authentic masculinity. Secondly, if you are a husband and father your actual mission is to provide for, protect, and to lead your wife and children. How are you going to do that if you get yourself killed or end up in prison over someone trash talking you or yours? If you don’t have a wife or children is it worth it to engage in a physical ‘competition’ with a stranger who may in fact be an a-social criminal predator? An a-social criminal predator will not ‘compete‘ with you, but instead will show you what a high level propensity for violence actually is? Are his disrespectful words worth dying for? Are his disrespectful words worth having to deal out lethal blows to stop him? No – they – are – not. Third and lastly, how can a man who has no honor take away your honor? He can’t. I once heard Jocko Willink of Echelon Front answer this type question on a podcast. Willink said:

“How can you be disrespected – you cannot be disrespected by someone that has no respect for themselves.” Jocko Willink

Avoid these situations until such time it’s clear the unjust aggressor is not going to permit you to avoid it, nor to escape it. Then act decisively and win the fight.

More than a few men have found their way to an early grave and into prison because of this lie. Humble yourself and complete your real mission which is to protect, lead, and provide for your family.

In Law Enforcement you had better show up on day one with a healthy dose of ego. The good, the bad, and the ugly parts of our ego can and do help police officers to accomplish their mission. What’s their mission? In part, it is to protect innocent citizens (including innocent brothers and sisters in arms), from the unjust criminal aggressors of this world. Unjust being the qualifying term. Now this is a lower way of accomplishing the mission but even the bad and ugly parts of our egos can and do serve to move us into those gaps between unjust criminals and innocents. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have.

In the Law Enforcement culture peer pressure acts like a kind of force multiplier for our egos. Make a mistake like having a negligent discharge and you will never, and I do mean never, hear the end of it. This is as it ought to be. In a profession where life and death often hang in the balance good nature ribbing, and even ruthless reminders of errors serve to send clear messages to the brothers and sisters in arms: Become a craftsman or go do something else! The culture does not well suffer fools, nor does it suffer cowards. Get your act together, put out, and become a craftsman. I have known many craftsmen in the field of Law Enforcement.

In Law Enforcement you quickly come to believe whatever might happen down the road on the legal, civil, and social battlefields, those are future battles for another day. You end up with a mindset that says after this physical battle I will patiently paint the picture with a very thorough police report, providing a great many details viewed from multiple angles in preparation for those future battlefields.

There are other ways men learn to detach from fear. Good formation and building in a trained response helps. Well scripted role playing stress inoculation via force on force paint marking simunitions helps. Experience certainly helps.

Is there yet a more excellent way?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen was recently considered for Sainthood. Time will tell the tale on that question. Read what the Archbishop had to say about death in his book, Life of Christ. There is a lot of paradox in the spiritual realm.

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…We need a Christ Who will restore moral indignation. Who will make us hate evil with a passionate intensity, and love goodness to a point where we can drink death like water.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen

You have to be seriously detached from fear to even think about loving goodness to a point where you can drink death like water. The Word of God tells us perfect love casts out all fear. Isn’t that interesting. Some might expect perfect love to cast out all hate. Yet, perfect love casts out all fear.

1 John 4: 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.

So if perfect love casts out all fear, how pray tell do I attain perfect love? Obedience – to – God.

Acts 5: 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

John 14: 15 If you love me, keep my commandments.

John 3: 19 And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil.

The Word of God reveals to me why I personally don’t have perfect love. Why at times I still have too much attachment and fear.

We all have a Cross we might occasionally look at laying over there on the ground collecting dust. Some men embrace their Cross, and pick it up. Some try to advance following Jesus up a steep hill. This is the first battle a warrior ought to concern himself with. The battle with our own selfish, illicit, and immoral desires. We first have to do violence to our own immoral desires if we seek to advance towards perfect love. We have to do this if we seek to advance towards a more perfect kind of detachment from fear.

Hebrews 12: For you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin:

I have to acknowledge in this spiritual battle I have too often made of myself an amateur, outsider, and mere tourist when I look at the lives of the Saints.

However, there is still a more excellent way!

Perhaps another for instance: A Deacon and a Saint of the Catholic Church, St Lawrence was martyred during the persecution of Emperor Valerian in the year 258 by being slow roasted on an iron grill. St. Lawrence showed forth the loving capacity to as Archbishop Fulton Sheen said: drink death like water. At one point while his flesh was being cooked alive he had enough holy detachment to joke with his murderers “Turn me over, I’m done on this side!”

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The best warriors are men of Faith.”

Study violent videos and you’ll begin to notice some trends. When things get serious, and the chips are down those who acquiesce to a life of vice often seek to save themselves. As their bad guy buddy is getting shot they often make for the door. They get out of Dodge, as it were. They save themselves.

Many at the foot of the Cross using a worldly kind of wisdom looked to Him Who was lifted up on a Cross and began mocking Him saying:

Luke 23: 36 And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”

Luke 23: 37 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!

Why do you think they’d say something like that? Because that’s what they would do if they were in His position. That’s what makes sense to them.

Indeed, two ways are set before us my brothers and sisters. May God give us the grace to go the right Way.

Leadership is Both Steel and Velvet – Hard as a Rock and Soft as Drifting Fog

I read this morning on Father John Zuhlsdorf’s blog a tribute of sorts, regarding an old friend and mentor of Fr. Z, Father Reginald Foster, who died Christmas day 2020. Father “Z” went on to share some insight into what kind of a man and what kind of a Priest Father Foster had been in this life. Here are a few excerpts:

“He was a rara avis if ever there was one, simultaneously jovial and irascible… If he got on your case about something, holy angels help you. However, he was astonishingly kind… Fr. Foster could veer from curmudgeon to Samaritan in an instant, and he could both at the same time… Affable and gruff. Chipper and brusque.”

February 2, 1959 Poet Carl Sandburg gave a speech before the joint session of Congress, honoring Abraham Lincoln. Here is a pertinent excerpt from that speech:

“Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet, who is hard as a rock and soft as drifting fog, who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect. Here and there across centuries come reports of men alleged to have these contrasts. And the incomparable Abraham Lincoln, born 150 years ago this day, is an approach if not a perfect realization of this character.”

Carl Sandburg

Authentic love is strong. Authentic love is willing to pick up a heavy Cross and carry that Cross up a steep hill. Authentic love is steel and hard as a rock! Likewise authentic love is velvet and soft as a drifting fog. Love is a decision – not merely some sentimental emotion! Passions rise and fall quickly. Decisions can be burnt in. Decisions can – endure. Love – is – a – decision. Love is in the “will.” Love is both strong (justice) and merciful. God is Love.

“And I saw the River over which every soul must pass to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, and the name of the River was SUFFERING… and I saw the Boat which carries souls across the River, and the name of that Boat was… LOVE.”

St John of the Cross

Abraham Lincoln’s leadership was but a dim intimation of He Who IS the perfect realization of this paradox – Jesus. In an infinite way Jesus is Leadership. He doesn’t merely have a finite share in good leadership like we might have through grace. He is Good Leadership – infinitely! Jesus Who’s birthday we celebrate today, has many titles. Two titles that illustrate this paradox are: Lamb of God and Lion of the tribe of Judah.

In my classes I begin with the principle of leadership. Why? Leadership is a matter of spiritual and physical life or death. It is a matter of freedom or incarceration. It is a matter of financial stability or bankruptcy. Leadership is a matter of employment or beginning anew. Today due to a crisis in leadership we often must make exchanges in risk between higher things and lower things.

Leadership is about doing right things, at the right time, for right reason, and in the right Way. Jesus is that Way. Knowing when to be steel and when to be velvet has much to do with timing. The word paradox as partially defined by an older Merriam Websters dictionary says: something with seemingly contradictory qualitiesSeemingly being the qualifying term.

Happy birthday Jesus.

Merry Christmas my brothers and sisters, may God give all of us the grace to go the right Way.