TREE of LIBERTY

May the lessons of the Spring of 2020 give us wisdom, encourage us to use our own common sense and embolden us to stand for what we know to be right.

               If you enjoy writing, like I do, there are times when something comes to mind and it almost writes itself as you sit before the blank ‘paper’ on the computer screen. The text flows like a mountain stream, careening over rocks and splashing into small pools as it winds its way down to the valley. Other times, there is a tug inside you, letting you know there is something you are to write and you hope it will burst forth like that stream and give you what you are to say. Still though, at times the tug is just that, a tug. There is a piece you are to write but no matter how long you stare at that blank screen, the only thing that envelopes you is how blank the screen truly is. Instead of a mountain stream you feel like a dustbowl farmer following a diviner with his crooked y shaped  stick, hoping he will find a trickle of water somewhere! You couldn’t put two sentences together to make an interesting opening line if the threat of three more weeks of quarantine hung over your head! If there were no tug, no sense of something worth writing and, more importantly, something worthwhile for others to read, it would be no big deal. Without the feel of something to write, you turn off the computer and go take up couch-potato duty. Thankfully, revelation struck almost simultaneously with me stubbing the pinky toe of my foot on the leg of my desk. Of course, it was the same foot that carries the weight of the recovering broken ankle. Such an event is the confluence of the Laws of Physics and the Laws of Natural Stupidity.    

            Like many Americans, if I see come across my news feed another COVID-19 update, I will not be responsible for my actions. Anyone who sees a desk or laptop computer come sailing out of my study window or an I-phone hurled from my F-150 at 70 mph will know that likely, the saturation level for COVID-19 news has been breached. It is difficult enough to deal with America’s 24/7 news casts which have as many talking heads as there are opinions. When there is no new news, the editors and producers beat the bushes looking for someone who has trained their pet to don a mask and protective gear whenever it goes out to do its business.                            

            At the risk of violating my own restriction and perhaps stretching the limits of my personal sanity just a bit further, there is something I would like to explore not about COVID-19 but because of it. I promise not to even refer to the 19 word again. If I do so, may the writing gods Penna and Pencilius  and their elder minions, White-us Outus and Carbona Paperia, wreak havoc upon my writing forever more.   

            Most have seen a shortened version of a quote by Thomas Jefferson from a letter he penned while serving in Paris. A few know the background and some know the extended version of the quote. It is replicated here.

   “And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms… The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Thomas Paine

A bold statement for any man in those days and particularly one serving as a representative of his fledgling country. Jefferson wrote this in a letter dated November 13, 1787, to William S. Smith who was in London. It reflects upon poetry by Thomas Paine. The ballad was written in 1775 upon the eve of the American Revolution. In the ballad he paid homage to a 130 year-old elm tree that stood in Boston Commons, under which, according to historians, colonists gathered to discuss the events leading to revolution. He  dubbed it Liberty Tree. The first stanza reads:

“In a chariot of light, from the regions of the day,
The Goddess of Liberty came,
Ten thousand celestials directed her way,
And hither conducted the dame.
A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
Where millions with millions agree,
She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,

 And the plant she named Liberty Tree.”

Liberty Tree on Boston Commons

Delicate is the balance of the branches of the Tree which upholds a diverse nation of peoples gathered in unique states, each united together ‘with the consent of the governed to permit representatives to conduct national affairs for their common good. The sacred document ratified by the diverse states permits the national government to do only those few things enumerated within this Constitution. In times of national crisis, certain powers are given to both the federal government and the state-houses of the individual states which can impose upon and restrict the rights of the individual citizen when it is deemed as in the best interest of the common good. The viability of such decrees are tenuous at best and it is very much a sure bet, those who find themselves wielding such new power will do two things.

            First, they will stretch the permission they have been given to decree from on-high too far. It will come almost to the breaking-point of the citizens’ willingness to obey, even if it truly is for ‘their own good.’ The citizen unused to such restraint will chafe at the bit and will not take kindly to the whip,

            Second, they will battle against the disassembly of their new-found power, seeking to maintain such power as the new status-quo. The public should be vigilant of any efforts to codify the new powers into legislation that would extend the usurpation of citizens’ rights beyond the crisis for which they have been approved.

            These two axioms are all but written in celestial stone as the negative result of the extension of power to fallible mankind. Therefore, citizens must consider at great length the nature of crises for which they are willing to subject themselves and their posterity to a curtailing of their basic rights. Persons in positions of power can always find enough experts, enough people of a single-mind who urge the restriction of citizens’ freedoms. They will claim to endow power to those who know best  what is  good for the majority.  For that reason alone, citizens must refuse to permit such a transfer of rights from the many to the few except in the most grievous of circumstances and for a specific period of time. Yes, even under the declaration of a national emergency, there are limitations and such a forfeiture of rights cannot continue without the consent of the governed through their representatives. The people must also be vigilant to revoke their permission when the true common good dictates. To do less, is to invite tyranny where there once was a republic.

            James Monroe understood the principle of certain basic rights which must never be traded for the promise of security. He wrote:

        Of the liberty of conscience in matters of religious faith, of speech and of the press; of the trial by jury of the vicinage in civil and criminal cases; of the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus; of the right to keep and bear arms…if these rights are well defined, and secured against encroachment, it is impossible that government should ever degenerate into tyranny.

            As an aside, for those who choose to twist the 2nd Amendment to refer only to the possession and carrying of firearms for sport and hunting or with some other imagined restriction, the mind of the founding fathers is clear in both Jefferson’s and Monroe’s quotes included here.  The same follows for James Madison’s and Patrick Henry’s statements which follow. Tyranny cannot exist minus the voluntary or coerced acceptance by the majority. The latter cannot be coerced when the inalienable rights of the citizens as outlined by Monroe in the quote above are kept sacrosanct and inviolate.

In a brief titled, Second Opinion two others from the earliest days of our nation’s founding make their stand on the bearing of arms and the keeping of American government (or any government) in check regarding the rights of the citizens, James Madison and Patrick Henry write convincingly on the subject.

 James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, wrote in Federalist No. 26: “The advantage of being armed…the Americans possess over the people of all other nations…. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several Kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

In Virginia, Patrick Henry argued: “The great object is that every man be armed…. Everyone who is able may have a gun. … Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.” George Mason said of the need to bear arms, “To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

These Founders are not talking about defending individual liberty from foreign invasion — but from tyranny within.[i]

May the lessons of the Spring of 2020 give us wisdom, encourage us to use our own common sense and embolden us to stand for what we know to be right.                                

CLOSING THOUGHTS                      

Patriots met at the 130 year old Liberty Tree in Boston during the late 1760s. The tree got its nickname from an act of rebellion that occurred on August 14, 1765.  On September 11 of that year, a plaque was placed on the elm tree commemorating the event with the words, The Tree of Liberty. [ii] The tree was chopped down by loyalists and British soldiers during the siege of Boston, August 1775 ten years following its rise to fame.

Author’s notes:

Circumstantial events lie the aligning of dates is cause for reflection. Notice the date the plaque was placed at the tree.

The aligning of the Laws of Physics and Laws of Stupidity (page 1 paragraph 1) do not take full responsibility for the inspiration of this piece. Next to the desk upon which I stubbed my toe is a credenza upon which I caught my balance. Resting in a locked case on that credenza is my custom made “We the People” Colt .45 1911 firearm. My epiphany came between the outbursts exclaiming pain and holding onto the table to keep from falling!


[i] CelebrateBoston.com

[ii ] https://www.tysknews.com/Depts/2nd_Amend/tree_of_liberty.htm

NIGHT PEOPLE

Four-sixteen a.m. I am hard of hearing due to my early line of work so as I sit at my desk in my dimly lit study, I faintly hear what I think is a clock ticking from high on the wall to my left. It reminds me that my rest time, the hours now in the early morning are slipping away and I should try and redeem them. Pain, however, is a nemesis to sleep.

When I was a young police officer, I worked mostly midnights for about thirteen years. In the small town where I worked, you got to know what houses would have a reading light on in a room at a particular time of night or see the blue lit haze through a curtain of a television on in another. Night people, many probably awake because of pain. Those who drive by my place at night now  can probably know the nights the study light is brighter than its normal small light. The small one assigned the task of preventing me  from smashing a pinky toe when I come in to turn on the other light at my desk. They may even see the light from the computer screen brighten the drawn shade.  Telltale signs of a person awake perhaps because of pain, or perhaps, just one of those I nostalgically call, the night people.

When I was out and about at night all the time, I became acquainted with the night people. The deli store clerks, the truck driver preparing to leave with a load, those who had just left the bar carrying their own load, and some folks who just preferred to be out and about at night for no real reason because their own body clock kept them dwellers of the night season. I didn’t usually meet up with those who were awake, because of pain. Those souls were normally home-bound. The last thing you want to do is go out and roam around when you hurt but they remain people of the night.

One lady, an older, somewhat rough around the edges, kind of person; one who had been pushed around by life and pushed back really sticks in my mind. I’m remembering back to the very early 1970’s, maybe even late 1960’s when I came to know her. She lived in a small village of Lodi, Ohio. For a few years, my older brother was a police officer there and worked the night shift before going to the sheriff’s office. I would ride with him every chance I got.

The department had two means of being dispatched. The overarching one was the county sheriff’s office. The vintage one was this lady I’m thinking of. Since she was awake most of the night, calls for the police were routed to a phone in her home. In a small corner of a room she had a desk with a police radio transmitter and receiver on it. Next to it was her coffee cup and almost always a cigarette burning in the ashtray. No computers. No bells or whistles. A phone, a radio with its mic and this dear lady. We’d stop by for coffee when the night permitted it, which was most nights. Her raspy deep voice, shaped by years of cigarettes would crackle across the radio usually about this time of the morning to give the call-sign of the transmitter and say, “Rod (my brother) I’m switching over to the SO now. Good night.” With that she’d literally flip a switch on the phone and it would again go directly to the sheriff’s office. 

We met others, too. Some interesting ones were always found at the Royal Castle. I’d call it a restaurant along IS 71 at SR 83 but a truck-stop greasy spoon would be a more apt description. Long gone from the scene at that intersection now, taken over by large corporate truck stops on either side of the Interstate. At the Royal Castle you knew how good the coffee was by how long your spoon could stand straight up in the cup, held only by the density of the black tar like semi-solid they called coffee. You could grease one of the 18-wheelers in the lot with the grease scraped off the stove, if they would have ever scrape it off. Not sure they ever did. The burgers though, were fantastic, dripping until you had a puddle of grease on your plate. Ah, the healthy lifestyles of the night people.

The folks of the night were not usually embroiled in the national or international news of the day. What happened locally, though, they knew well and had an opinion. If it was an election year, it wasn’t party that would divide a conversation (it never divided friendships just conversations). It was who believed which candidate would really do what was best for their local world.

Their world is different. Not better or worse, just different. It was unlikely the day people would ever meet the night people. Most daytime dwellers never realize night people exist.

But they do, or they did… once upon a time, in a land far, far away, in the quiet dark of the night.

This Royal Castle coffee mug is now being sold for about $50.00 It has withstood a LOT
of heavy coffee! I don’t own it and at those prices, I won’t!

AN OFFENSIVE DEFENSE: Church and Business Security

A good defender is always on the offense, looking for ways to stop the evil before it can erupt.

Charles Edward Greene, coming out of North Texas State College, in 1969 was to be the NFL’s First Round #4 pick. Unheard of for a small school? It didn’t take long for the school and Greene to be heard of. By his second year in the NFL, Greene was in the Pro Bowl. He received the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award twice between 1969 and 1982, his time spent as a Defensive Tackle with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Charles Edward is better known as, “Mean Joe”, “Number 75” part of the STEEL CURTAIN of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive line. Married to Agnes in 1968 until her death in 2015, he honored her in 2018, setting up the Agnes Lucille Craft Greene Memorial Scholarship. Of his defensive role, he said, “The kind of role I play is like an offensive lineman: doing a good job but not being noticed.” [i]But noticed, he was, and he was noted for his leadership, fierce competitiveness, and intimidating style of play for which he earned his nickname.[ii] It was his character, for which he credited his mother which earned him a nomination for the 1979 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Greene said, “Above all, there is Mother. She taught me how to love, how to have respect for other people.”

The PITTSBURGH-CLEVELAND Rivalry

Okay, I’ll say what has to be said. Having spent more than a few years attached to an Air Force Reserve Unit in Eastern Ohio near the Pennsylvania border and a torrential mix of Browns and Steeler fans, I am a tried and true Brown’s fan. That makes, for me, the Steel Curtain an offensive defense. That is not the nuance you must take from the title, however!

Here we will discuss SECURITY from the viewpoint of a man like Mean Joe. He sees the defense a place to be on the offense. With thirteen seasons to his credit, Greene is widely considered one of the greatest defensive linemen in National Football League (NFL) history.

DEFENDER Security, Ltd., a subsidiary of Security Consulting Investigations, LLC has as part of its new logo, a shield with crossed swords. Defensive weapons and offensive ones. It isn’t enough to be defending if your mindset is, I’m here, let ‘em come at me… they won’t get through. That’s good; but, it’s only half the strategy. A good defender is always on the offense, looking for ways to stop the evil before it can erupt.

The PATRIOT missile system is a defensive system which is strategically deployed in the places it is most expected to be needed. It remains on high alert, continuously probing  the sky, looking for the incoming trouble. And then, when deployed, it goes out to meet the trouble, head-on; literally.[iii]

Patriot Missile System

CHURCH SECURITY, or any professional security really, is programmed to be on the offense for their defense. It isn’t enough for a uniformed police officer or security person to be standing gallantly in the narthex of the church, there to wipe out the evil doer as he presents himself. What he is doing, when that is his total plan of action, is being the blue canary.

Canary in coal mine

My grandfather worked all his life in the West Virginia coal mines. He would come home in the early morning, the only visible white was in his eyes. Every other part of his exposed skin was as black as the coal he had been mining all night. Eventually, too, his lungs were just as black. In those days, they used canaries in the coal mines to determine if the oxygen level was too low. When the canary dies, time to leave. It was widely held that they used parakeets. Actually, the miners used canaries, rather than parakeets for several reasons. 1. Canaries metabolism makes them very susceptible to methane and carbon monoxide poisoning. 2. They give an audible warning. They sing most of the time, when they stop singing, it is an indication that they are being overcome by the gas. 3. They give a visual warning. When they start to sway and fall from their perch, it is another indication that they are losing their ability to function, due to the poison gas they are breathing.[iv]

So, there is our blue canary. A well-groomed appearance, sharp uniform, shiny badge; he is standing in the open foyer, the most susceptible to the on-slaught of evil. He’ll likely give an audible warning when he is shot first and, visually, others will see him fall from his perch. If a single officer is the only option a church or business can afford, then there must be a plan in place to keep him or her from being the blue canary!

I met a blue canary once, who truly understood he was a blue canary. That was his job. I’d just come out of the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem. Friends of mine wanted to visit a nearby bookstore. I headed for the police station. Outside the station, where the razor wire was strung was a singular, phonebooth style guard post. In it stood a young police officer wearing two sidearms, a bandoleer full of ammunition and an automatic rifle. We spoke for a bit and he learned I was a retired police officer from the U.S. He recognized, somehow, I was a Christian and, discreetly showing me a crucifix under his vest; told me that he was a Christian, too. He then admitted that, for whatever reason, his youth or his faith, he was there as a blue canary. When things hit the fan and he was overwhelmed by attackers, those inside the barricaded walls and bullet proof glass would know there was trouble. So stands our stoic ‘Church Security Officer’ ready to defend; but, having no offensive plan whatsoever. That must change. Again, if the only affordable option is a single security officer, the church or business would be better off having him monitoring a security video system. It isn’t the best option, but it is better than having an officer sacrificing themselves as a target. Plans can be put in place using volunteers and team strategies to make it possible to view the security monitors and keep your security officer moving.

Israel has a couple of steps up on the U.S. when it comes to security, such as we need for houses of worship, regardless of faith. The principle is an offensive plan to their defense. The evil must never get close enough to do harm. It must be, and can be, stopped before it ever enters the narthex or the foyer, or coffee shop, or youth center. Certainly, it’s warmer inside, especially in February in Ohio; but evil is going to come inside from the outside. Don’t you think we should be there to meet it?

Roving patrols in parking lots have merit and challenges. The merit is they can be the first to see the evil before it enters. If they are looking, truly looking and not sitting in a corner of the lot checking their cellphones. They are visible, so there can be the possibility that evil never attempts to enter. It comes by, sees proactive ARMED security and goes off to find weaker prey. Being visible, though, it can also be circumvented. That is why there must NEVER be just one ring of security, but multiple, over-lapping rings.

The second ring, which is an over-lapping one, is the video monitoring system. Cameras, OUTSIDE, pointing in varying directions watching for evil to come within reach. Lots of churches have video cameras. That’s great. Some are also recording. That’s good, too. Most are not being manned. That is a mistake. What you have, if you have a recording video system not being monitored, is something the police will try to look at AFTER the carnage, bloodshed and death left by evil as it disperses back to the place from which it came. I believe evil comes and goes. It may arrive inside a demented mind of someone battling demons of their own; but should that person succumb to wounds on the scene, the evil within slips silently out, looking for its next victim. In 1 Peter, the Bible says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”[v] The, be alert and of sober mind, that’s an offensive strategy for your best defense.

Security Surveillance keeping the evil on the outside
https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=VFnloFva&id=0B768220A946A

If you think, when you take your shift as a DEFENDER, you are only going to battle against the punks of the neighborhoods within which you work, remember Paul’s admonition to the Christians in Ephesus. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”[vi] If you are planning a great offensive strategy, it’s a must to begin and end with prayer.

In future writings, we will be reviewing more offensive defenses. We hope you’ll join us. Look for future topics at www.docriggs.com and at www.defenderltd.com under SECURITY NEWS- Church & Business Security or click on: https://www.security-consulting.us/church-business-security 

Until then, be vigilant, be prepared, prayed-up and don’t be a blue canary!


[i]  https://www.bing.com/search?q=mean+jjoe+greene&form=EDGTCT

[ii] https://www.bing.com/search?q=mean+jjoe+greene&form=EDGTCT

[iii] Video available at: https://www.bing.com/search?q=patriotmissilelaunch

[iv] https://www.answers.com

[v] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Peter+5%3A8&version=NIV

[vi] https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=+flesh+and+blood&qs_version=NIV

“UNATTENDED BAG!” Surviving the Terror of an Active Shooter

The ONLY person who is absolutely, positively, guaranteed to be with you when danger threatens is YOU. You must prepare yourself to be Situationally Aware, Mentally Ready to Act, and Know Your Options.

“The world is a dangerous place. ‘Although there is danger in the world, one does not have to become resigned to fate and passively wait for acts of violence to occur. There are some simple steps ordinary people can take to help them avoid danger – or at least to mitigate its impact.’”[i] Those simple steps begin the process, or better, the lifestyle called SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.

Knowing what is going on around you is the basic premise. Seeing a man wearing a black mask,  body armor, hearing protection and carrying an AR-15 rifle walking into the patio area of your millennial packed bar on a busy street, in Dayton Ohio, is a clue things are about to get ugly. Such was the scenario on August 3, 2019, just about 24 hours before I am writing this blog. In an  El Paso, Texas Walmart, a man wearing all black comes in carrying a long rifle. It is time to act. Situational awareness gives you the advantage, the few extra seconds someone, whose face is buried in their Smart Phone, will not have. Those few seconds can save your life…. IF.

 I intend to answer the IF, but first, there needs to be a true understanding of situational awareness, what constitutes a threat and what it means to be prepared for an event. The third is the first piece of the IF answer.

When I was first asked if there would be a blog about this weekend’s horrific shootings, my intention was to speak to one of the causal elements for why people go out with the purpose of killing as many other human beings as possible, usually people whom they have never met. Most of the answer to this question is dealt with in my book in sections titled, The Battle for Our Homes, Keeping the Faith, Retaking the Castle and Keeping the Drawbridge Up. Please, take advantage of not just what I write here, but go to our website and order the book. It’s a cheap investment which just might save your life or the lives of your family. The link is simply, www.security-consulting.us and from there you can order the book, “Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Times of Heightened Threat.”

My intent is to give  you the basic information you need to survive an Active Shooter terror. First, a very short video which will clearly show you, between two cowboys in a cantina, one who is aware of his surroundings and one who is not. You can guess which one is about to die. Go to: https://youtu.be/czb2xfmmJDM

Assuming you viewed the video, provided with SCI’s great thanks to TCM Classic Movies, the clip from El Dorado, you have the basic concept. If the man about to be killed had seen James Caan circling him, he would have had a few extra seconds to act. I’ll give you a spoiler alert, bad cowboy never gets to finish the cigarette he was so intent on rolling. Notice, even the cowboy who watched Caan circle the table did not perceive there was a threat requiring him to act. He read Caan (and, likely, he’d read the script too) and could see Caan’s focus, although worrisome was not on him and, something that was not noticeable in the clip, Caan is not wearing a gun. Our alert cowboy had little reason to act. He was aware enough, however, to act if the need arose. Such speaks to our second point. The question is: “What constitutes a threat?”

Being situationally aware is not limited to seeing the bad guy come in. It is knowing, wherever you are, bar, movie theater or church, where the exits are, where the choke points are, and what your options are. Staying aware of these things, you can gain extra seconds when you can recognize the threat.

The two instances this weekend, El Paso in the Walmart and Dayton at the nightclub patio are obvious threats. The minute they are seen, it is time to act. Not all threats are as obvious. There are a great many profiles on active shooters. The current FBI director was quoted as saying currently, most active shooters in the U.S. are young white males and are often linked to a white supremacy belief system, whether formally or personally.

A couple of years ago, the focus was more on Middle Eastern males with the intent of jihad related attacks. Such profiles can be useful, but not particularly tangible for the average American shopping in their local Walmart, enjoying a drink at a local nightclub or parking in a busy parking garage before a large sports event. You must try to articulate what is setting off your spider senses. We all have them, though not spider bite incurred. We have a God-given ability to sense danger if we tune ourselves into our brain’s proper frequency.

The person who looks so intently focused on where they are going, moving deliberately as if on a mission; unable to make eye contact they seem almost under a spell, for lack of a better term. Those should be watched carefully and, as is always taught in police training, watch their hands. Are their hands visible and what, if anything are they holding? Are their hands hidden? What are they wearing… a long coat in the summer? Something which appears to be body armor? If it is someone you know, have they been  articulating dangerous comments on social media? It isn’t a one answer for the total picture, but more like a puzzle, the pieces you put together as you watch the individual. Is there an air of despondency or virulent anger? Put all your observations together in a very quick analysis and prepare yourself, if your internal alarm starts going off, to act.

A recent shooting incident in our small town of Louisville, Ohio began when a person, known by his wife to be violent and capable of assault threatened to shoot her and others. She knew his violent record and how he previously had guns taken from him because of domestic violence. Since he got the firearms back from the court, he was stockpiling large amounts of ammunition and putting them in large capacity magazines long before the shooting incident occurred. She saw the danger signs but waited until he began firing to notify authorities. Two police officers were pinned down behind bullet riddled police cars, a large number of neighboring houses and vehicles were shot. Hundreds of rounds were fired before SWAT was able to secure an arrest. One person was wounded from other than a bullet round but there were no other casualties. The threat escalated over time, as most do, and those who are in such a scenario need to talk to authorities long before the body count begins. Those who could be impacted by a threat must be prepared to act.

While training in Israel with persons from the IDF, we were taught the simple action known to all those regular residents of Israel, particularly in the cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Following many episodes of bombings, the practice of yelling “UNATTENDED BAG” while in public and seeing a package or bag which had no one with it. The people within earshot of the alert will scatter, quickly in every direction.

IF

If you have prepared yourself mentally to act when a threat presents itself, those few seconds can save your life and the lives of those with you. Why is it necessary to mentally prepare? Your first instinct when seeing a threat is to not believe what you are seeing. This cannot be happening here! This can’t be happening to me! You must quickly accept the reality of danger.

If you have opted to carry a firearm, whether it is open carry or concealed, you must be mentally prepared to act. One can say, ‘I have no doubt, I’ll waste the sucker!’  When it comes time to pull the trigger and end another human’s life, you must be reconciled to the fact you are protecting countless others and doing the only thing possible at that moment.

If the use of a firearm is not an option, then PLEASE understand the concept of Run, Hide, Fight. A short video put together by the City of Houston a few years does a great job of explaining it. . You can view this video on our website at: https://www.security-consulting.us/resources

The ONLY person who is absolutely, positively, guaranteed to be with you when danger threatens is YOU. You must prepare yourself to be Situationally Aware, Mentally Ready to Act, and Know Your Options.

May God bless you and may you use all your faculties God has given you to stay safe and keep those around you safe as well.


[i] Riggs, Dr. Ross L., Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Times of Heightened Threat, Motivational Press, 2017

(Dr. Ross L. Riggs is a retired Chief of Police, a lifetime Certified Law Enforcement Executive, a graduate of the FBI National Academy and owner and president of Security Consulting Investigations, LLC. He is the author of the book Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Times of Heightened Threat and numerous published articles on police tactics and security. Dr. Riggs spent over fifteen years consulting to mission teams in difficult places around the world and has appeared on radio and television programs in relation to his work and doctoral dissertation on developing contingency plans for mission groups and agencies. He may be reached through SCI at 1-888-719-5636 or 1-330-956-9561.)

EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING

Hopefully though, every once-in-a-while, everyone can have an oportunity to realize easy, like Sunday morning

The late Michael Conrad, ‘Sgt. Esterhaus’ on Hill Street Blues with his famous admmonition to the cops from the ‘Hill’ precinct, “Let’s be careful out there!” He and most of the real-world cops and first responders who have been around the block more than once would agree Lionel Richie was using a metaphor which only exists in the minds of many. For the rest of us, first responders, cops, clergy, doctors, nurses etc. the idea of an ‘easy Sunday morning’ is laughable. Just when you think you are having one, BANG, the celing comes down with just one beep on the radio receiver.

I recall a frigid, sub-zero Sunday morning, our officers and an area SWAT team were surrounding a house where a male suspect has been shooting at anything he felt like for about three hours from inside his parents’ home. There were many reasons we wanted to get this settled as soon as possible. Daylight was coming, the neighborhood would soon be antsy about being evacuated, it was colder than an elf’s toes on Christmas Eve (you know those shoes they wear CAN’T keep your feet warm!), and most importantly to the cops with me from Rittmann PD, we had Cleveland Browns football tickets for us and our wives! Kickoff was at 1:00 and this was back in the old stadium when the Brownies had the ‘Cardiac Kids’ on the field!

No, there is seldom a ‘typical’ Sunday morning which fits the mental picture one gets listening to the Lionel Richie song.

Today, however, may be an exception. I am with my lovely wife and four of our grandchildren, ages 7,7, 5 and 10 months, at a campground in the middle of wooded hillsides. The sun is just coming over the rise of the hills to the East and the rays are making their way through the tree branches. The three older grandchildren have just come out with coloring pictures and donuts in hand, our plan is to do some fishing after breakfast. Yep, easy like Sunday mmorning.

Most Sunday mornings we enjoy being with fellow believers at our gathering of the church for worship, teaching and fellowship in preparation for service in the week ahead.Yes, there are many people who work diligently every Sunday to make certain things go off as they should. Hopefully though, every once-in-a-while, everyone can have an oportunity to realize easy, like Sunday morning.

Survival Strong

What you take away from this article may mean the difference between your own or your officer’s survival and not letting the evil, that sought to destroy, win.

In today’s world, every minute has the potential to turn into a life or death decision for law enforcement officers. A decision made by a cop in a split-second of sheer terror, judges and law makers can ruminate over for months or years. They will take all that time to judge those actions made in the blink of an eye. Thankfully, police officers react in times of threat based on their training and experience. Sometimes, the bad guys win the moment; but, not the day. What you take away from this article may mean the difference between your own or your officer’s survival and not letting the evil, that sought to destroy, win.

Professional police prepare physically to enhance their strength and their endurance to handle the fights which come after the foot chase of someone ten years their junior. They build upper body strength and they diligently work to improve their competence with their firearms, both on and off-duty guns. They are aware of which holster works best in specific circumstances and they jealously watch over their tactical equipment keeping it all in place and ready. I never left the house for a shift without the pat-check by my wife. That’s the tap that comes during the ‘see you later – have a good night’ kiss assuring her that her cop had his protective vest on.

Over 30 years ago, police survival instructors developed the concept of survival role-play. It is a mental exercise where officers on patrol visualize a possible scenario in their jurisdiction of an armed encounter and how they would react. The training stressed the need for positive outcomes. Even in the mental role-play, if the officer visualized themselves as shot in the encounter, they always also visualized themselves as surviving the event.

Being mentally prepared for whatever is coming next is perhaps the most difficult area for being survival strong. How can you be prepared for something when you have no idea what it might be? The possibilities are almost endless. So, how does one figure out which ones are the most likely to be on your horizon? What if you can have no way of knowing what it might be? What do you do? There is only one sure way of being completely prepared for whatever might come your way and to be the one who will be ready to respond no matter what.

In firearms training, for accuracy and consistency it is critical to have a solid shooting foundation. If the shooter is in a standing position, there is a certain way that the feet should be planted, the knees, flexed, the shoulders and forearms aligned, the wrists kept straight. If not able to shoot from a standing position or it is necessary to move while shooting, there are still foundational methods which enable the shooter to keep aim on target and effectively send the shots down range.

When involved in a high-speed pursuit, there are very specific skills the driver must use to keep the car upright, on a solid path and box-in or overtake the offender to affect a safe apprehension. None of those skills can be completely effective, however, if the vehicle the officer is driving is not in good shape, with good tires, solid steering and dozens of other normally minute issues which become incredibly important when speeds scream past 100 miles per hour. If the foundation of the driver’s training and well-cared-for equipment is not solid, the risks spiral upward and the expectations for a safe end to the pursuit dwindle.

Award-winning author and columnist, Regina Brett wrote, “It doesn’t matter what has happened to you, it matters what you do with what has happened to you. Life is like a poker game. You don’t get to choose the cards you are dealt, but it’s entirely up to you how to play the hand.”[i] I’m going to ask her to indulge me when I add a qualification to her quotable-quote. Let’s consider the poker analogy. First, players, must ante up. They put in the chips agreed upon for beginning the pot. Then, once they see what they have been dealt, players can opt to fold or continue to play. A player who folds risks nothing further; but, they lose what they have put in so far. Even though there is nothing left for them to lose, they have no opportunity to gain anything more either.

Those who have not folded are known as active players. When all active players have contributed an equal amount to the pot, the betting round ends. According to the variant being played, further cards may be dealt, or players may have an opportunity to exchange some cards, after which there is another betting round, and so on. When the last betting round has ended there is a showdown. All active players show their cards, and the owner of the best five-card hand takes the contents of the pot. If at any point only one active player remains, that player automatically wins the pot without having to show any cards.

The objective is of course to win money, and there are two ways to do this.

  1. To have the best five-card hand at the showdown.
  2. To persuade all the other players to fold.[ii]

When you decide to sit in this poker game called life and you choose, as many reading this article have, to serve your community in a very hazardous, life-threatening role which few people understand and even fewer appreciate, your ante is in and you have already decided folding, at this point is not an option. You came to play and not to fold. The betting round has begun, and you are all-in, right from the beginning. Every chip you have, your time, your talent, your skills, your family time and yes, even your life is on the table and how you play your cards matters more than anyone can imagine.

Here is where part of the analogy of Ms. Brett’s needs to expand just a little. Technically, she is correct; you don’t get to choose the cards you’re dealt. But, as part of your deciding how to play the hand, you may opt to replace some of the cards you were dealt originally and get new ones. You do not know what they will be; but you do have the option to initially discard those which do nothing to help you, those you believe will hinder your success and keep what you believe are best. It could be staying stuck in bad past experiences – that’s a card to discard. Your tendency to have habits which are detrimental to your health – another set of cards to discard. Being forced to ‘play the hand you’re dealt’ is not completely true.

According to the rules of the game, the objective is to have the best hand at showdown or convince all the other players to fold. Remember what I wrote?  You have all your chips in. Once all your chips are in it includes your family and your life. You have only two options when it’s time for showdown. You must either have the very best hand or force the others to fold. There can be no other options. Everything you do to prepare to play the game will set the foundation for the showdown. It may be the tactical training you have absorbed. It may be your attention to your situational awareness senses. However, it may also be a divine appointment.

There is one given about the poker game we call life. So far, in history, only two persons got out of this life without dying. One was Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and the other Elijah (2 Kings 2). One was simply no longer, and the other God took up in a whirlwind. Very likely, both will be back in what is called the “End Times” and they will be killed and resurrected during that time. Even Jesus died before He rose again and then returned to heaven. Everyone who sits down at life’s poker game will have a divine appointment and then the showdown. The foundation upon which you have built your hand must have one specific card in it – the card of your acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord. You have prepared to survive every dark evil that comes your way as a strong, gifted, committed, professional law enforcement officer. That foundation is strong. Why would you risk your eternity by not preparing to survive? That one card is foundational.

Then, learn this well. Every game you play in life, for every showdown – before your divine appointment, will only come together if you keep, in every hand, the card of your acceptance of Christ. It will change how you play each hand. You will no longer be looking for what it is to win; but you will know every win you receive is a gift from God. Everything you do will be focused on how that card impacts every other card in your hand. It is your choice to keep that card and not to fold; but, to play each hand with everything you have – all in.

Many years ago, there was a cartoon posted on our bulletin board at work. It showed a stork with a frog in its bill. Reaching out from the beak of the stork, the frog had his hands wrapped around the stork’s neck, trying to choke him. The caption read, Never Give Up! The strength of your faith will be the foundation upon which you survive. Regardless of the rest of the cards in your hand and no matter how the evil of this world throws every jagged barb at you, your foundation will remain strong as you exercise your faith, you nurture it and you sustain it. An interesting thing about faith, it is not something you acquire for yourself or for which you are responsible to obtain, it is a gift. God’s Word tells us that we are saved by grace through faith and that God is the One who gives us that faith. We can nourish it, but God grows it!

In today’s world, if you work your entire career in law enforcement or other similar public service, you may never hear one single of word of thanks or appreciation for what you do. I hope you do. In fact, if you are reading this right now, I am telling you that I, and every member of my family, appreciates you. I can also assure you of two things. First, God sees everything that you do in His Name. Second, He will reward you for it some day in the not too far distant future. Keep building your foundation, keep strengthening to be survival strong, keep training, keep practicing and preparing, and NEVER FOLD.


[i] http://www.reginabrett.com/

[ii] https://www.pagat.com/poker/rules/A

Line of Duty

Keep building your foundation, keep strengthening to be survival strong, keep training, keep practicing and preparing, and NEVER FOLD.”

How wide is the Line? How straight the path? What is it within a person driving them to take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, to uphold the laws of the city, county or state for which they serve? For so many, it is a dream of a lifetime to someday become part of the Thin Blue Line. Just last summer, Natalie Corona fulfilled a lifetime dream of receiving her commission as a police officer for the City of Davis in California and on January 10, 2019, Officer Corona was gunned down while responding to a traffic crash.  She had told her father, before attending the police academy, “Dad, this is what I want to do.” Her father is a retired Colusa County Sheriff’s Deputy. No doubt her Dad is asking the same question  many retired law enforcement officers ask themselves each time another officer is killed in the line of duty. Why them? Why not me?

No doubt, most every retired police officer has faced a share of hard times, even wounds and some debilitating injuries. This author is one of those who has shared in instances where life was on the line and has scars and pain to remind me of the good ol’ days. I survived. I lived long enough to be able to complain about the pension fund and look with envy upon the young officers who are now walking the Line, praying for them daily because the threats are real, and the Line is narrow. I fulfilled my early life’s dream to be a police officer like my oldest brother and I have seen, now, my son pin on the badge. How the Line will fare for him, only the Lord knows and thankfully, my son trusts in Christ’s capable hands.

Each year, as the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty increases, there are thousands of officers who bend their knees in prayer to ask the Lord’s grace upon the families and department for each one. The Lord knows when every sparrow falls and, so much more, when servants of the public lay down their lives. Christ spoke highly of those who lay down their lives for others.

Recently, I wrote an article titled Survival Strong which I hope will appear soon in the POFCI magazine. In that article, I wrote:

“I can also assure you of two things. First, God sees everything that you do in His Name. Second, He will reward you for it some day in the not too far distant future. Keep building your foundation, keep strengthening to be survival strong, keep training, keep practicing and preparing, and NEVER FOLD.”

Again, to the family of Natalie Corona and the Davis Police Department, I send our prayers and deepest sympathies. To Natalie’s father, I give the assurance of Scripture when Jesus says, “No greater love has any man than this that he lay down his life for a friend.” May she be remembered always for her zeal and dedication to law enforcement. Would it be Natalie’s would be the last line of duty death for 2019, though we know such is not to be.

May God bless each and every officer and keep them safe, trusting in the strength of Christ.

Clouds on the horizon create a reminder of the Thin Blue Line
Photo by Daniel W. Riggs, used by permission from “Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Times of Heightened Threat”

RECIDIVISM, RADICALIZATION, RESTORATION

To merely bemoan the brokenness of the system and offer no good recourse or some viable alternatives is to promote cynicism and defeatism. There are already enough isms wreaking havoc upon our society..f.as a society we must (follow Dr. House’s prescriptions and) get good.

Dr. Ross L. Riggs 20 December 2018

U.S. PRISON DOUBLE STANDARD  

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has an interesting, if not warped view of information necessary for dissemination to law enforcement and to communities when certain individuals are released from custody. According to a recent article by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the Bureau has mandatory reporting requirements to law enforcement when registered sex offenders are released. The same is true for drug offenders. There are programs for both for re-entry into the mainstream and there are channels of communication to alert law enforcement of their known whereabouts when released. However, there is no similar programs in place for convicted terrorists who are paroled or have completed their sentences. To quote Patrick Dunleavy of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “That is absurd.”[i]

“The Tracer Act, presently awaiting passage in the U.S. Senate, would require authorities to provide state and local law enforcement with ‘release information from a Federal correctional facility, including the name, charging date, and expected place and date of release, of certain individuals who may pose a terrorist threat.’”[ii] The bill was introduced in the House in May of 2017 and then received in the Senate in September of 2017. At that time, it was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and a year and three months later, it remains in committee.

Nearly thirty-two years ago, while working a special detail seeking out persons with outstanding warrants for violent crimes, I came across just such a person trying to hide behind a dumpster in a bar parking lot. He had multiple felony warrants for aggravated burglary, robbery, arson, escape and a host of others. A lengthy foot chase ended with the suspect in custody, the two of us at the bottom of a culvert and my right shoulder dislocated. Within a couple of years, I had my first reconstructive surgery on that shoulder. Just five days prior to writing the first draft of this article, I had a total shoulder replacement after years of dealing with chronic pain, arthritis and joint inflammation. When the felon was sentenced, he received 25 years in prison, of which he did the entire two-bits. I sometimes said to folks, (he) got 25 years, I got life. Today, my quip seems more real than ever. It did not take that felon very long after his release to be re-arrested and back in the system. Recidivism rates for violent, repeat offenders are disconcerting, to say the least. According to the study conducted by Jesse Morton and Mitchell Silber, “The recidivism rate among violent extremist offenders within the United States is unlikely to be zero. While the re-offender rate for violent extremist offenders appears to be much lower than among other federal prisoners,13 in 2010 the Director of National Intelligence assessed that 25 percent of former Guantanamo Bay detainees were confirmed or suspected of re-engaging in terrorist or insurgent activities.”[iii]

Twenty-five percent is probably a very low assessment. Most, if they have learned anything at all during their time at Guantanamo, learned how to keep a lower profile. Could it be that fifty percent or more of those who were detainees are still part of the terrorists’, jihadists’circles? Those who are not are more likely to be disengaged either by the simple fact that aging takes its toll on even the most resolute fighters and injuries incurred during their career have also left them unable to fight. For others, they may be out of touch because they are no longer trusted by those currently holding the reins of power. There may even be a few who are reformed. My expectation is that it is very few. To have a system which, if it tracks these violent offenders after release at all, does not permit the law enforcement in areas where they will reside to be notified of their location, is, as was quoted earlier, absurd. It borders on criminal negligence on the part of those who run the systems. The blood of any law enforcement officer or citizen who is subsequently killed by a released convict when no effort was made to inform police of his whereabouts or potential of his continued complicity to terrorism, should be legally upon the hands of those who had the power to change the system but did not.

I have a son-in-law who has, what you might call, an inquiring mind. He asked me just the other, ‘What is really wrong with having places like Alcatraz or as the British first planned to use Australia as a dumping ground for those too anti-social to work and play nicely with others?’ In the Philippines, al Qaeda and its brethren have ruled over Mindanao for decades. Okay, let them have it… take out those who have no dealings with the brothers of the sword, invite any who want to join them to go on in and then remove all forms of communication with the outside world to the island and let them fend for themselves. Such a comment is hyperbole, of course. I would never presume to instruct a sovereign government what to do with their lands; for the same reason I won’t live in a gated community. Without effective communication between prisons, probation, customs, INS, and local law enforcement, it becomes a matter of the stow-a-ways commanding the ship.

I have a good friend, a brother-in-Christ who is serving a fifteen-year sentence with the Ohio Department of Corrections. I know of murderers who did not get as severe a penalty as my friend and I believe he suffered greatly because of inadequate legal representation. However, with such issues aside, he knows why he is there and, as you would expect, he has lost everything which was important to him while he has been inside, with the exception of his faith. Tested mightily, yes; but his faith has endured. He has grown into a much stronger and wiser brother in the faith than most men I know. As with Joseph, (although my friend admits he was not innocent of all charges as Joseph was in the Genesis account), God is using him in amazing ways where he is.

A huge difference for my friend is his faith and because of his faith, he was ‘reformed’ even before he was ever charged with a crime. Almost two decades passed between the time of his crime and when he was charged. When he was arrested, he was already no longer able to commit his crimes because of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. To say the ODC has any programs helping him to be prepared to re-enter society is a stretch. My friend has grown greatly; but, it is because of the Holy Spirit and through his own initiatives in seeking out educational options and discipleship and mentoring programs.

In 1974, I wrote a college paper on recidivism rates. I would like to report on the great advances made in corrections to reduce recidivism in the intervening forty-four years. Such is not the case. Lots of money has been thrown at all kinds of programs; but, the nature of the beast is beyond any quick fix. Without the life-changing, eternity altering, soul reclaiming power of Christ, none of our man-made efforts can make a significant difference. The Constitution of the U.S. has a clause known as ‘The full faith and credit clause.’ The actions of one state will be backed by the others and by the federal government (with specific exceptions). Without such a clause, the ability of the states to work as a united republic would be impossible. As an analogy, each act of kindness must also be backed by the full faith and love of Jesus Christ to have any eternal efficacy.

To merely bemoan the brokenness of the system and offer no good recourse or some viable alternatives is to promote cynicism and defeatism. There are already enough isms wreaking havoc upon our society, I shan’t be involved in promoting any others. A quote from the immutable Dr. House is simply, ‘you must either be good, get good or give up’ and nobody can afford to give up. If our dealing with recidivism and radicalization are not good and our attempts at restoration have not been good, then we need, as a society to get good.  I suggest the following:

  1. Improve our grammar. A sentence is a sentence. Ten years for armed robbery is ten years not 3 years with credit for time served. The sentences, however, must fit the crime and the individual charged. Too harsh or too lenient, both are wrong.
  2. Repair our doorways. To deal with recidivism, prison doors do not swing open and they do not revolve. They lock. Repeat offenders need to know their future is certain.
  3. Become better gardeners. Remember our roots. America is built on Judeo-Christian principles. It will be the only faith available for study in prison. A free American has the right to freedom of worship. If you are in prison you are not a free American. There will be no radicalizing imams strolling the halls of our penitentiaries unless they are prisoners themselves and still, they will not have the opportunity to preach and teach.
  4. We will sing-along with Aretha Franklin R-E-S-P-E-C-T will be afforded to parents by children, students to teachers, citizens to police officers and, young people to elders. This will be taught in the homes and in the schools with local churches available to help-out any time.
  5. We will encourage reading. The only OPEN Borders will be bookstores. If you choose to immigrate LEGALLY into the U.S., you will learn English as our national language. The phones will be freed from the option to ‘Press 1 for English’. Tourists out west, if they see a sign for WALL DRUG – it will be for the great tourist trap in South Dakota and not some marijuana they got between the U.S. and Mexico.
  6. We will encourage a STRONG economy. You desire health benefits and a paycheck, you will work. The definition of those who truly are not able to physically work will be determined by those who pay for the social services, the tax-payers.
  7. Pharmacies will be available 24 hours a day. They will be the only places where anyone can get drugs. Anyone who wants to dispense drugs can go to pharmacology school. Failing to get a Pharm degree but still selling drugs will invoke number 1 and number 2 and if the person is an alien, number 5 will come into play and the person will be invited to return to the land of their birth, do not pass go, do not collect $200.00.

Perhaps these Stringent Seven are a bit tongue in cheek or, at least, too simplistic to merit any true consideration. Still, they are the basis for what needs to be accomplished within our system to begin to regain some control over the miscreants threatening our society.


[i] Dunleavy, Patrick “The Strasbourg Terror Attack – Only the Names Have Changed” IPT News 17 Dec 2018

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] https://ctc.usma.edu/nypd-vs-revolution-muslim-inside-story-defeat-local-radicalization-hub/

Novochok Nerve Agent Threatens More

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 Amesbury, England Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were found in their home apparently poisoned by the same nerve agent that nearly killed Russian Intelligence Officer Sergei Scripal and his wife Yulia in March. Sergei was accused of spying for Britain. They survived the poisoning but are now in protective seclusion following the narrow escape. The nerve toxin, Novochok an A-234 nerve agent is nicknamed by the Russians as newbie – and consists of a series of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union and Russia between 1971 and 1993. The symptoms of the drug’s ingestion is a headache, unconsciousness, convulsions and foaming at the mouth. Both Rowley and Sturgess are in critical condition. Reports indicate that they were at Salisbury’s Queen Elizabeth Gardens prior to becoming poisoned which is not far from where the Skripals had been found.

Photos of the  Skripals have been redacted for security concerns.

On the heels of the intel of the arrest of a person was arrested in Germany with large amounts of the drug Ricin and terrorist plans to contaminate the water system. It is apparent that the proper amount of vigilance on the part of international, national, local and civilian intelligence and security persons is warranted.

Amesbury

British police have categorized this as a Major Incident and, with over officers from forty departments involved in the last poisoning may be recalled to the newest incident.

The two most recent targets of the attack are being treated at the Porton Down Defense Research Facility just 18 minutes by car from the Salisbury District Hospital.

porton down defenseSCI’s intelligence agents and our network will continue to follow this and other leads as these cases progress.

The full story on where the gas came from is known: https://youtu.be/fXX4znMsHFk

MAY, A Month for Memories

MayMay is a month for memories,  for remembering. It is the month we, here in the United States, remember mothers for their magnificent role in all our lives. Mostly good, some with sadder memories, still the women who are our mothers and grandmothers impacted our lives in ways we will never even fully know. So, we choose, a weekend, a particular Sunday, to remember particularly those to whom we owe so much.

We remember others, as well in the month of May. One weekend, in particular, has become synonymous with the month, with the ushering in of summer time, a time for picnics and family outings. Memorial Day weekend has become a time-honored tradition. Thankfully, many communities still honor the weekend with a parade, a quiet and solemn ceremony at a local cemetery; and events not marked so much by frivolity and fun; but, reflection and reverence. It is a time we remember the sacrifices of all the men and women who have given their lives in the guarding of our freedom in wars all across the globe. First begun immediately following the end of World War I, known then as, The Great War or the War to End All Wars, a new organization, the American Legion set out to honor the fallen soldiers from that war.

What became an enduring symbol of that war, is the poppy fields that cover the French hillsides. A poem made famous from that time and often read on Memorial Day in ceremonies across the country is called In Flanders Fields. I present its short verse to you here:

In Flanders Fields                 by John McCrae, 1872 – 1918

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields

Flanders Fields

Today, a small, paper poppy is worn by many to remind the rest of us that this weekend of Memorial Day, we have many people for whom to be grateful.  From the 40 million men and women injured or killed in that Great War, about fifty percent died. The photo of fields from the movie, Atonement by Alex Bailey gives a short glimpse back to those fields.

Since that war, another 1.5 million Americans have been wounded in war and of those at least a quarter were killed.  So, it is appropriate that we remember their sacrifices for us, for our way of life, for the freedoms we have to enjoy those picnics and parades. This Memorial Day, remember those who gave you the America you have today, with all its sores and stubbed toes; she is still our America where we have the freedoms so preciously bought for us by those long gone and by those yet born who will walk their own walk, in Flanders Fields.

On a weekend before Memorial Day; Americans have chosen to honor yet another group of heroes. Men and women who, every day in America walk the thin blue line to keep our homes, neighborhoods and communities safe. Our law enforcement gathers with family and friends each year in May at the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial where those killed in the line of duty over the past year are immortalized with their name etched in the marble walls that, sadly, grow longer and fuller with each new year. This year, over three-hundred names will be added to the wall from the U.S. and her territories.  The war against police must stop but, until it does, those of us honored to be watched over by the men and women of the thin blue line should take this time in May to remember those who have given the last full measure of devotion to their brothers and sisters in blue, their communities and their nation. We should especially remember the families of those officers who have been murdered and re-commit ourselves to seeing that not only is justice done; but, those families never want for any single necessity because of the sacrifices made.

LEOMF

Yes, May, a month of memories. Let us never forget to remember.

 

Written by Dr. Ross l. Riggs, Chief of Police Retired, Member American Legion Post 44 Canton, Ohio