“If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.” – John Steinbeck

Growing up in the 1970’s, and early 1980’s in a blue collar town youth fought frequently. I won some, tied some, and lost some. One of the things I noted in my own and through observing others fights was that fist fights vied for a social status. A hierarchy, as it were. Youth would deal out a few, perhaps several blows and then assess and ask “Do you quit?” The goal wasn’t to murder one another – at least most of the time. In one instance I lost in spectacular fashion to an upper class man and was choked unconscious, but that’s a story for another day. Vying for social status essentially means to “compete.”

I’ve heard it said that as Americans we love fair fights. Why? This post will explore some of the reasons.

We have a deep love for sports in America. We have a love for fairness and in particular for justice in America. If properly understood, and balanced, I think these are awesome things. For a Catholic, balance is a very important principle.

Two football teams take the field and they both have the same intent – to compete within a framework of rules and to dominate. To win. Competition and war are two radically different things. In competition we have referees who can call off sides, and administer penalties. Sports have rules. Sports have referees to enforce the rules. We get to see who’s the best on this, that, or the other given day. We get to see Mr. Murphy show up with things like fumbles, missed passes, interceptions, and sacks. We see the frictions of what appears like war on the grid iron. We perceive it as frictions of war. It ain’t war. It’s competition with rules and referees. That is a distinction that must be made.

In sports like boxing or today Ultimate Fighting Championships, Mixed Martial Arts, we see violent competitions – with rules and referees. We are a little shocked when we see one boxer bite another boxers ear. We’re satisfied when that boxer is disqualified for such actions. We come to see a heads up competition with the competitors bringing forth the best they have to offer. We sometimes confuse sports – for combat.

Unjust aggressors do not ascribe to rules. Dominating is their rule. Using unlawful threat or violence as a means to their ends – is their rule. Unjust aggressors have intentions like to rob, kidnap, rape, destroy, and murder. Fairness in this arena makes zero sense. Why? We are not talking about a competition. There are no referees to step in and ensure death is held at bay. We’re not talking about two competitors with the same intentions. There is no gentleman’s agreement to stop short of death. We’re talking about radically different intentions and responsibilities. We’re talking about unlawful intentions from the very beginning. That is not competition – it is war.

These things have to do with the “will” of the unjust aggressor juxtaposed to the “will” of the innocent defender. When innocents face a villain with unjust wicked intentions, the rest of us, should desire the advantages going to the innocent police officers, and to the innocent citizens. We should NOT grant legal, civil, or social advantages, to the unjust aggressors. To give unjust aggressors additional advantages is sign of how far our civilization has fallen. It is a function of blindness, confusion of mind, and madness to grant additional legal, civil, or social advantages, to unjust aggressors bent on doing evil . Some state’s attorneys, judges, media folks, and special interest groups have suffered a darkening of their intellects. Some, is a qualifying term. There are also some states attorney’s, judges, and perhaps lesser media folks whose eyes are wide open and they do consistently exercise common sense and good discretion. Those who consistently choose to do the wrong thing, for the wrong reason, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way, well they lay waste to the common good. For these, it is an inversion of reality. It is a turning upside down of the good. Some begin calling good things evil, and calling evil things good. It is the wrong way!

On a physical battlefield this kind of war, as it were, is unfair at it’s very inception. The unjust aggressor already has physical advantages by means of using lies and ruses. He does so by using surprise, speed, and violence of action. The unjust aggressors intentions are by there very nature unfair! Would anyone seek to grant additional advantages to a terrorist bent on the murder of innocent Americans? Of course not! Of – course – not. All tactical advantages on the legal, civil, and social battlefields, should go to innocents and to “just,” innocent defenders. That is common sense. That bodes well for the common good. Do we even still care about the common good? We are divided today on what that even means. I’ll tell you this much, it should not mean we make it easy for the unjust aggressors to prevail.

Imagine a scenario where you had two boxers and those boxers were to compete. At the amateur level for a title, or trophy. At the professional level for a purse, or prize money. Of course there are rules. The two competitors are not literally at war – they’re competing with rules, and referees. You can’t bite one another. You can’t stomp your opponents head when they’re down on the mat. You can’t pull a knife and stick it in their neck. Rightly, there are rules. What governing body would ever seek to stack the advantages to one of these two competitors? None. We all want to see that fair fight right? We all want to see these two boxers try to knock the other guy out. They both have the same intentions: Knock the other guy out.

Unjust aggressors are not looking for a fair fight. Their looking for a fast decisive win. It cannot, and it will not be fair from the very beginning. The unjust aggressor has different intentions than the innocent police officers. The unjust aggressor has different intentions than the innocent citizens protecting themselves and those for whom they’re gravely responsible. Unjust aggressors don’t obey any rules. Their rules are get in close, gain point blank range; dominate, and win; even if that means risking prison or death.

Americans, also like to win. Winning is a good thing. So why would we as society tell America’s finest – the police officers that they need to ignore the fundamental physical principles of combat, and come to believe in things like de-escalation, slowing down time, as if the officers choice of being “nice,” would somehow change the “will,” of their unjust adversaries? As if an unjust aggressors “will,” could controlled through such goofy measures. Sometimes it is tactically right for a police officer to offer warning. Those warnings are the attempt to deescalate. That is authentic de-escalation. Sometimes it is appropriate for a citizen to offer loud rebuke to an unjust aggressor. That loud rebuke is authentic de-escalation. The unjust aggressor, has to decide to de-escalate. He might fancy escalation.

Why would Americans begin granting additional advantages on the physical battlefield over to the unjust aggressors? He already has advantages. He picks the time and the place. The unjust use ruses and lies to close with and gain surprise. Surprise coupled with a high enough propensity for violence (like a two by four, a knife, or a firearm), and he’s going to achieve, and maintain what’s called relative superiority. Relative superiority can be looked at like momentum or a domination. Achieve and maintain it, and you win. Do we as a society now want the unjust aggressors to win? Do we want them achieving the means to their ends (robbery, rape, destruction, and murder)? Do we want the unjust murdering innocents? Some do. Many – do – not!

I don’t want to fight anyone. I have been there, and I have done that many times. I’m looking to avoid these things. I understand them far better now, than I did at fifteen years old. However, if that day comes I definitely don’t want a fair fight. It’s fantasy to think you can do the silly things we see in movies and television. Combat – ain’t about fair fights. Why? In dealing with an unjust aggressor it is inherently unfair at it’s inception. In part, this is due to radically different intentions. In part, it is due to the unjust aggressors “willingness” to depart from all rules of decency, laws, and even mercy. Ask a criminal who’s feeling in an honest mood if he expects to go to prison someday. Many expect to go to prison someday. Do you think the average innocent American expects to someday go to prison? Of course not. At it’s very root it is unfair. It’s not a competition. It is in fact combat. We ought to treat it as such.

Whether it’s a government like Germany in WWII unjustly seizing land by surprise, speed (Blitzkrieg), and violence of action, and Poland falls. Or whether it’s an unjust criminal aggressor seeking to use ruses and lies to gain point blank range where he can sink the ambush in deep. This kind of thing isn’t about trophies, prize money, or titles. This kind of thing is a matter of life and death. Win – the – fight. Encourage those sitting in leadership seats on the legal, civil, and social battlefields to think clearly and do right things, for right reasons, at right times, and in the right ways.

Psychological Versus Physiological Stoppages

During my law enforcement career I received firearms training regarding stopping imminent threats of great bodily harm or death to myself, and others. Is there an efficient way to stop an imminent deadly force threat? Generally speaking, yes. As always, no guarantees. Police officers are essentially trained to go for a physiological stoppage. That is the most efficient way to stop an unjust aggressor presenting a deadly force threat. What’s a physiological stoppage? The short answer is to physiologically remove a subjects “will.” Once unconscious his “will,” no longer matters.

If common sense were common, I would not have to say this. This ain’t legal advice. I’m not an attorney. That don’t matter, as you didn’t come here to hear what an attorney thinks about these things.

Every year in law enforcement instructors reminded us of the Illinois statutory language; “…However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or such other person…” 720 ILCS 5/7-5. Every word of that statute was important. The non-sworn civilian version is 720 ILCS 5/7-1 Use of Force in Defense of Person. The language is nearly identical for this portion of the Illinois statute.

If you have not read the previous blog please read it, as I explore the idea of a good working definition of war. Carl von Clausewitz gives us the definition from his book On War: “War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.” In other words, war has much to do with the will of men.

The hope, is the unjust aggressor will voluntarily comply and change his own “will” (a psychological stoppage), before we arrive at the physiological stoppage. Hope isn’t a plan. Once the shooting starts, the plan is a physiological stoppage. Time is a precious commodity in any kind of violent confrontation.

To prevent great bodily harm or death to innocents, our target area was center mass of the chest. The heart is located center mass of the chest. Head shots were a part of a physiological stoppage. Those two combat target areas never changed throughout the twenty six years of my police career, with the exception of working a narrower column, of the upper thoracic area from the heart to the brain.

The heart pumps blood and oxygen to the brain. Take out or damage the pump, and blood pressure is going to drop. Sooner rather than later, damage to heart or the brain will result in the unjust aggressor being rendered unconscious, dying, or dead. The brain stem portion of the brain can act like an emergency shut off.

How long are most gunfights? At point blank range, they are 2-3 seconds. Why is being efficient important? Time in any violent confrontation is a precious commodity. How much the more, is time a precious commodity in an imminent great bodily harm or deadly force confrontation? The answer is, all – the – more.

I was rightly taught as a police officer the intention was to “stop,” the threat. What’s the difference between “stop,” and “kill?” Certainly, targeting the heart and brain is likely to cause death. Distinctions have to be made. Stopping him? Yes. A willingness to deal out a lethal blow? Yes. Perhaps many lethal blows? Yes. The focus needs to be on stopping the unjust aggressor from continuing to present a deadly force threat to innocents. Once he stops – we stop.

An unjust aggressor may experience a psychological stoppage at any point prior to unconsciousness. What’s a psychological stoppage? In short, he quits, and we stop. It’s a change in his “will.” A change in his desires or intentions. He chooses to stop posing a deadly force threat as a means to an end (robbery, kidnapping, rape), or as an end in itself (murder of an innocent). A few for instances: He may clearly separate himself from his firearm. He may stop advancing on an innocent while wielding edged or blunt weapons. He may drop his weapon and move back away from it. Unarmed he may stop advancing on an innocent defenders drawn gun, and retreat. If he’s been shot he may make clear; He’s done and would very much like an ambulance – please!

All war – is – in – the – will. If he refuses to relent – then the defender must be willing to continue dealing out lethal blows until such time the unjust aggressor changes his will – or his will is removed, via a physiological stoppage. What’s a physiological stoppage again? His “will,” is removed as he’s been rendered unconsciousness, dying, or dead.

Some men you cannot, and will not reach. Some men will make a decision, and they will burn it in. They will not relent, and you will have to render them unconscious, dying, or dead, to stop them. You don’t have to like that reality, but it doesn’t change it. Many will quit. So we’re watchful for a psychological stoppage.

If a police officers intention was to kill the unjust aggressor rifles would have bayonets attached. Officers would approach the unconscious and finish them off. If the intent was to kill, officers would never render aid and would not request paramedics.

Having a willingness to deal out a lethal blow to an unjust aggressor is not the same thing as an unjust aggressors will to threaten and murder innocents. These two are radically different by their very nature. A willingness to deal out lethal blows is out of love for one’s own life, and a grave duty to protect those for whom one is responsible. It is out of love for other innocents. Juxtapose that with the unjust aggressors lack of charity for anyone, including himself, with his focus on his selfish wicked desires. Radically different things at their roots.

Police officers prepare and plan for the worst, yet remain watchful for an opportunity to stop and do what needs to be done in effort to save even the unjust aggressor. If he stops, police stop. If he goes unconscious, police stop. Pretty simple.

Dealing a lethal blow is not a guarantee of the unjust aggressors death. You aim, though there is no guarantee of accurate hits. A couple of millimeters any direction may be the difference between life and death. The fundamentals of shooting and the shooters skill level get factored in. The high stresses of potentially receiving great bodily harm and death, might mean your shots are a little hasty. The fundamentals of grip, and stance often diminish due to the unique stresses of combat, bearing down on you and yours. If both unjust aggressor and innocent defender are moving, accuracy diminishes yet again. If the innocent defender didn’t see this coming, and finds himself behind in John Boyd’s OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), throw in an adrenal dose of panic. We begin to understand how and why even police officers sometimes have horrible accuracy at 3-5 yards. Yet, police officers annually qualify at ranges out to 15-25 yards. Square range marksmanship, ain’t combat.

In conclusion, psychological stoppages have to do with the unjust aggressors choices. He decides if, and how much force it’s going to take to change his mind. Unjust aggressors vary widely in degree of “will.” If he’s made the decision, accepting even death, then bullet wounds to the torso won’t change his will. We’ll know when we get there. With some men you will have to achieve a physiological stoppage which renders him unconscious, dying, or dead. Once safe to do so, call an ambulance in effort to save to his life.


What is war? Probably the best working definition of war, as it would apply to legitimate defense, comes from Carl von Clausewitz. Clausewitz in his book On War, stated: “War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.” In other words, war has much to do with the “will,” of men.

What is the “will” of a police officer? Police officers are tasked with enforcing the law. Their “will” is to stop, detain, investigate, cite, and sometimes arrest law breakers. Those are things a police officer desires to do. Criminals do not desire to be stopped, detained, questioned, cited, or arrested. Who’s “will” triumphs? What exactly is the criminal “willing” to do to avoid being stopped, questioned, cited, or arrested? Likewise what is the officer “willing” to do, to fulfill his mission? Wait, what was the definition of war: “Acts of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.”

Let’s take a look now at the “will” of an unjust aggressor and innocent citizen. Unjust criminal aggressors have a “will” to steal and rob others of their money and material goods. Unjust criminal aggressors have a “will” to sexually assault or beat down the innocent at their pleasure. Sometimes unjust criminal aggressors use their “will” to take the life of an innocent. Innocent Citizens have a “will” that is the exact opposite. Innocents do not “will” to be robbed. Innocent citizens do not “will” to be raped or beaten. Innocents do not “will” to be murdered. So we arrive again at our definition of war; an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.

To understand things we often have to go back. God said:

Genesis 3: 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.

Going back to the beginning we find enmity. The word “enmity,” as defined by Merriam Webster’s means: an instance of such ill will or hostility. That is why we cannot, and we will not all just “get along.” Unjust aggressors have free will. They can and they do reach forth their hand and try to take what they desire from innocents – what they “will.”

This battle isn’t only between competing wills. That’s a major part of it however, good and evil battle in ideology. We see this with some states attorney’s, politicians, media folks, and others undermining and attacking a police officer’s “will” on the legal, civil, and social battlefields. “Some,” being the qualifying term. Some of these folks place obstacles in the way of just defenders like police officers. Realize that this ideological siege currently directed at law enforcement will work it’s way down to the level of innocent American citizens. I believe, Americans have a right to use any force reasonable and necessary to stop an unjust criminal aggressor from imposing their will upon the innocent.

War has much to do with the “will.”

Four Safety Rules

Note, I did not say the four “gun” safety rules. I have heard other instructors quote a firearms instructor by the name John Farnam of Defense Training International, as having common sense rules to stay safe. Rule 1: Don’t hang out with stupid people. Rule 2: Don’t go to stupid places. Rule 3: Don’t do stupid things.

I tweaked this a little bit as it’s prudent to 1) avoid dangerous areas, 2) dangerous people, 3) at dangerous times, 4) and limit your time in those areas of vulnerability.

There are valid reasons we sometimes go to dangerous areas. To hear the Word of God from faithful preachers who love God and who’s Parish is in a dangerous area. Perhaps it’s a specialty shop that has something we consistently need. Perhaps extended family or friends who live in dangerous areas. There is a major caveat to all this; If God calls you to some mission in that dangerous area, then by all means go do it. God’s first.

This goes to the heart of the question can I, should I? As a retired police officer, supervisor, and later administrator I knew well, the city that I served. There was a park in a dangerous area, where drug dealers and gang members would congregate, and play basketball. Now I’m an American. I’m free. I could (can I?) have taken my seven children and wife to have a picnic at that park every Sunday. I could have done that. Knowing my profession and understanding reality, I knew the probability that sooner or later (probably sooner), I may have to defend myself and my family with my firearm. I knew that if that moment came, I would not have been able to control where the unjust criminal aggressors bullets would go. I knew I couldn’t guarantee the safety of my children, and my wife. Yet, I have a grave duty to protect my family and part of that includes making good decisions, right? Right. Additionally, it wouldn’t be reasonable for me to draw down on every person who might approach us in that park. Unjust criminal aggressors wait until they have point blank range (say 3-4 yards) before surprising folks with their knife or firearm. They sink the ambush in deep because there are not a lot square ranges for unjust criminal aggressors to go practice at. Often these unjust criminals carry with them stolen firearms with the serial numbers filed off. Criminals don’t possess valid FOID cards, and may even be a convicted felon. So if that ambush is anything more than a robbery, the just defender will have to pay that bill with their life. If you have to go for your firearm when they’re firearm is out and they’re dominating the situation – that is not going to end well for you. That is a last resort self defense kind of thing. It amounts to mutual destruction. Why? It’s point blank range and you can’t successfully draw on a drawn gun. If you have to, you may still be able to stop the threat, but there is going to be a steep price for you to pay. If it’s for your people – pay it.

As far as missions go what’s my mission? As a husband and father it’s to protect, provide, and lead my family. That’s my mission. I have a grave duty to protect my wife and children. So I have to be prudent. I should be grateful for my family. I should not feel entitled to risk their lives over nonsense. Can I? Yes. Should I? No. I should not. So guess what? I never have, nor will I ever, take my wife and children to any park that I have knowledge is frequented by drug dealers, gang members, felons, and shooters. That is not – going – to – happen.

My daughter works at a place in a high crime area, where there are a lot of shootings each year. I have instructed her to plan well. I have instructed her if she needs gasoline to avoid stopping in that high crime area. To invest more time, in driving to a much safer area, to stop and get gasoline. To invest more time, in driving to a safer area, rather than stopping in that high crime area for something like fast food. These things are common sense. Common sense comes from God. When we disobey God, our intellects darken and eventually we enter into blindness, confusion of mind, and madness. Read Deuteronomy Chapter 28: 28.

When I drive through a dangerous area I revert back to ways I used to patrol. Odd and awkward, which amounts to unpredictable. On patrol we did not drive the posted speed limit. We drove slower, aware of the status of the next traffic control signal. We always left room in front of our squad, so that we could see the tires on the car in front of us. Why? Room to maneuver around that vehicle. We stopped short at intersections. We stopped short rather than even with the car next to us. We turned right and kept moving. If we were going to have to stop next to a sidewalk with a sign, or any other obstacle limiting our mobility, we’d stop short of that obstacle. It’s easy to get good at spending more time in the middle of the block, than stopping at the intersection. Many people today seem to be in a race. Race to the next intersection and then sit there. The posted speed limit seems to be a “minimum,” speed limit. Slowing down allowed me to see, and better read the environment, and any potential threats moving about in that environment. One of the principles I teach is throttle control. Sometimes it is necessary to speed up, to avoid stopping at a particular intersection. A great question to ask yourself is; Why now? Sometimes there are good reasons that things need to happen right now. If that be the case, don’t hesitate. Every tactical question in the world can be answered with just two words: It depends. The part to learn is exactly what it depends upon.

A few words about dangerous people. We have heard in our current generation we must not judge. You have to know what that means. I don’t judge whether you, or I, or anyone is going to Heaven or Hell. That’s called a biblical judgment. That’s God’s business, not my business. I don’t know the degree of graces given. I don’t know the mitigating circumstances. I don’t know the degree of slavery to a particular sin. I don’t know how this, that, or the other person will end. So I can’t touch biblical judgments. Those kinds of judgments are God’s business.

I can, and I must make moral and rational judgments. If I stop making moral judgments meaning I stop deciding whether something is right or wrong, then how can I do good and avoid evil? The Word of God tells me I need to do good and avoid evil. How long do you think I could remain married and out of legal trouble, if I stop making moral judgments? If I were to stop making rational judgments then I’d just walk right out in the street without looking left or right. That is a rational judgment. How long until that ends badly? This is common sense.

So if a man dresses himself up to appear like a member of a criminal motor cycle gang, he’s making a statement to the world. The statement is; he’s a dangerous man. Some would say ‘well, he’s just a want to be. He’s harmless.’ Is he? What is it that he wants to be? Answer the question – what does he want to be? He’s making a statement to the world that he places a high value, on the vices – yes the vices associated with this, that or the other lifestyle. He dresses and adorns himself with certain symbols or signs, that identifies him as a dangerous individual – or part of a dangerous group. Someone to be feared. Why wouldn’t I believe him?

If a man walks down the street cursing and yelling that he don’t “give no [fill in the blank],” then he’s telling the world he doesn’t care so much about social constructs. Angry spirit, right? Why wouldn’t I believe him?

If I start to pull into a gas station in a strange city and I see folks sitting on open window door frames, the hood, trunk, or roof of a vehicle, I’m not stopping at that gas station. Why? Experience as a police officer for over a quarter century. That’s why. Folks dancing on the tops of cars is not a good sign. Don’t expect good things in that atmosphere to be holding sway. Disorder and signs of lawlessness, means it’s time to move on.

If a man walks around talking, or singing loudly to himself, or he otherwise demonstrates signs that something isn’t quite right in his head, why would I think it a good idea to give him opportunity to approach me and mine? It’s said mental institutions had major problems in the first half, of the last century. Instead of reforming what may have been deformed, by sinful men, a certain way of thinking suggested it would be more compassionate to push those folks out onto the streets. Out on the streets they could have access to sharp objects, and interaction with police officers. How has that been working out for society and the common good?

If a man, pair, or group speak and behave like drunks, or like their on drugs, having party spirits, I’m going to give them a wide berth, as it were. I’ll go out of my way to avoid that. I’ll box around choosing another parking lot lane, and cut back over to my car once past all that. Why? I choose to believe what I’m hearing and seeing.

The way a man comports himself, dresses, adorns himself (prison or gang tattoos), walks, talks, and acts makes a statement to the world. Is he displaying his prison or gang tattoos with great pride? Does he demonstrate a spirit of entitlement? Does he hold high vices? Why wouldn’t I believe him?

It is simply false compassion to pretend like people are not what they purport to be. It is madness. I’m going to believe people when they’re telling me in every non-verbal (and sometimes verbal) way possible, that they’re dangerous folks.

Why should law abiding citizens be taught to feel bad about accepting things as they are? It is not prudent to ignore people who are telling you in all these ways, what they are about. Political correctness is a curse and a pox upon the land. Reject it, in all of it’s forms!

What times are generally more dangerous than others? There are no guarantees but don’t go to dangerous areas at night. Don’t go to dangerous areas in the summer time, at night. Don’t go to dangerous areas in the summer time, at night, on a Friday or Saturday. For some reason around the holidays (Thanksgiving & Christmas), armed robberies of businesses often increase. So if you must stop and pick up a pizza leave the wife and children at home. Delivery may be the best of all ways to get your pizza during this time period.

What is the best time to go to a dangerous area if that’s what you need or desire to do? Morning time, say between 7 AM and 11 AM. That is what I tell my family, and friends. Again, no guarantees but many dangerous people stay up late doing the party thing. In my experience many potentially dangerous ambush predators sleep during those early morning hours.

If I really have a desire to go out and get some food after dark I need to consider whether I’m stacking errors. Before becoming a police officer, I stacked errors. I didn’t know any of these things, so late at night if I was hungry I would drive up to a sketchy convenience store, in a dangerous part of town, on a weekend night, in the summer, and go get my snack food. I was fortunate. It’s about probabilities. I got away with it for awhile. Stack errors and you stack probabilities that you’re going to be a victim or you’re going to have to defend yourself, which may include the legal, civil, and social battlefields. If I had it to do all over again, I would simply have drove farther to a location where the probability of a problem would have dropped to near zero. In real estate we hear location, location, location. That is a pretty good way of looking at how to keep yourself and your family safe in these troubled times.

One of my relatives lives in a dangerous area. The kind of area where drive by shootings wouldn’t be a big surprise. So my children are not permitted to go to that area until they’re adults, living on their own. My house, my rules. That’s my call. If my wife decides to go to that location, I have offered some suggestions:

1) Leave early: If she leaves early she has options. When pulling up to park if she sees a sketchy looking guy passing by, she can simply drive on and in a few blocks turn right, and box back around. He should be long gone when she gets back. What I’m looking to remove is his opportunity. If their paths are logically going to come close to intersecting as she walks from the car, to the house, then he has opportunity. Leaving early gives her options she would not have if she is running late.

2) Don’t linger out front: The longer we stand in a dangerous area the more access we grant to transients passing by on foot. Some of those transients will be opportunists or dangerous men. Get inside. Stay inside. If the shooting starts, lay on the floor until it’s over. Basements are great for sheltering in place, if you live in an area where drive by shootings are common. If your friend wants to chat you up by the street, sidewalk or front yard – ask to use the restroom. When leaving look before you leap, as it were, to see if there are any potential dangerous people passing by and go use that restroom again to freshen up. Don’t chat in the front yard, sidewalk, or street. Tell your friend to call you. Get in your vehicle, start your car, and get moving. It’s hard to hit a moving target. Limit your time in areas of vulnerability.

3) Time of day: Go in the morning hours, if possible.

Sometimes I will drive my wife and simply drop her off. Being a retired police officer I have concealed carry, and I apply the above tactics. This is the preferred way. When she’s ready to go she calls for a ride, and I call her back when I’m out front.

It’s about being on the right side of as many good principles as possible. Since it is a dangerous area then do what you can to avoid dangerous people, dangerous times, and don’t loiter or linger in areas of higher vulnerability. Back yards are better than front yards. But that’s going to depend upon who the neighbors are. Privacy fences add a layer of security, but again, who are the neighbors? Inside is better than outside. Basements are better than main levels if drive by shootings are common place.

Again, the caveat is if God sends you on mission then go do it. But short of that, I’m going to strive to make good decisions and use sound tactics. I’m not looking for any problems. I’m looking for ways to avoid unjust criminal aggressors. It’s the job for active law enforcement to go deal with those guys. My job, is to protect, provide, and lead my family. Another important question for every person in a leadership role is: Where are you leading your people? If I’m doing my job I’m not leading them needlessly to their deaths, prison, or any other bad place.

Carl von Clausewitz in his book On War defined war as having to do with the will of men. Unjust aggressors have free will so solving your problem with early intervention means way before we’re entering into jeopardy and violent confrontations. I know, that’s not always possible but where it is possible, I’m looking to exploit the opportunities to avoid it.

First Things on the Streets

Where are you? Do you even know your location? When I started in Law Enforcement in 1991, police officers did not have locators showing dispatch the officers location. It was a high priority for new recruits to study the city streets. It was critical to know the direction you were patrolling. If you conducted a traffic stop and that transitioned into a foot pursuit the initial direction of travel was very important. That was the basis for all future twists and turns.

Squared away Field Training Officers would do things like suddenly shout out “Stop, the car!” As a probationary recruit you would immediately stop the car. That got the blood in your heart pumping. The Field Training Officer FTO would say something like: “You’ve just been shot at.” Or, “I’ve just been shot!, You need help! Where are you? What is your current location? Advise! Where are you recruit?” Of course the FTO was paying attention. He noticed you were not paying attention. You had no idea where you were. That’s a problem. That sort of thing makes a lasting impression. Years later you still find yourself paying a lot of attention to street signs. Every now and then you get caught not paying attention, and somebody flags you down. You get that panic feeling – Oh no, what’s my location? Knowing where your location may be the difference between life and death.

As new officers we studied the maps (before smart phones), and memorized the major streets. In the city of Springfield, Illinois we knew odd addresses were on the north and west sides of the street. Even addresses were on the south and east sides of the street. What’s it like in your city? I don’t know, it’s up to you to figure it out. We knew the hundred blocks preceding and following the major streets. We new this in all directions. We paid attention to what directions we were travelling. If we had someone bail out on a traffic stop and run, we paid particular attention to their initial direction of travel. St. Thomas Aquinas said “an error in the beginning is an error indeed!” Why? Errors in the beginning especially at the level of fundamental principles tend to compound. Great care must be taken in the beginning to ensure we’re not compounding errors. Knowing that initial direction of travel we could make adjustments as they turned north, south, east, or west.

How is this relevant to civilians? Why should a civilian care about this?

Think about it for minute. We take the same roads to and from work everyday. Do you even know the name of the roadway your on? Does your wife know? Does your teenage son or daughter know? Do you know the names of the major cross roads? Do you know if you’re travelling north, south, east, or west? I live in Tazewell County, Illinois. I know the Illinois river runs north and south. That is just one reference point. Do you know if you’re a little south of the next major cross road and what the name of that crossroad is? An awareness of where you are, that’s what we’re talking about here. It might mean the difference between life and death, especially if your commute takes you through dangerous areas where there are a lot of crimes each year. A lot of firearm related crimes every year. There may be police officers just a couple blocks away, but if you can’t provide your location to the call taker those police officers may miss an opportunity to help you.

The 911 system is on the verge of getting much better. Currently it varies from place to place. It may vary widely from place to place. Next generation 911 may be out late 2021. Depending on where you are in the United States current technology may triangulate your cell phone within say 50 meters in any direction. May is a qualifying term. It may be far greater distance or less. Emergency communications are gaining ground, and sooner than later, they will have the capacity to locate your cell phone within a few feet in any direction. The next generation may also provide what floor of a building the caller is calling from. To my knowledge that is not currently the case. The more details you provide a 911 call taker, the better.

Does that mean there’s no reason to do the work of learning where you are? No. Technology can fail. Systems can experience glitches. Mr. Murphy (Murphy’s law) sometimes shows up and wreaks havoc. Learning the map, as it were, is still a worthy pursuit. Knowing what direction you’re moving in relation to your map, or landmark, is a good thing to know.

As I spoke about in an earlier post, going out into the most dangerous neighborhoods of any city USA is so much easier as part of a brotherhood. Trust in your brothers and sisters gives police officers a major boost in confidence. You have no doubt they will take great calculated risks to get to you, and help you in your time of need. That said, I always knew the radio (cell phone for a civilian), could be a liability rather than an asset. How could it be a liability? If someone was about the business of murdering another human being in front of me, or drawing a bead on me, I decided I would forget about my radio (or the phone), and solve the problem. I knew then, and now, time is a precious commodity. I knew I would either solve the problem, or I would be killed. Should I win that battle even if I were injured, that would be the time (timing matters much) to key up (or dial 911) and call in the cavalry. That is where the lines are. Never forget that. That phone is not any kind of guarantee for you and for yours. If you have time to use it, do so. If you don’t have time, solve the problem. It’s that simple.