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!

“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.)

A “Child-like” Faith

Dr. Ross L. Riggs

Few times in my adult life have I been truly afraid. In most every circumstance, I was afraid for someone that I loved. I’m not certain of any specific time when I was afraid of what would happen to me, particularly in a physical way. I might suggest, too, I’m not particularly courageous. It is not because I am a strong man who is never afraid of anything. It is more because, unlike many of my brothers in the emergency services and very much unlike those serving in the front lines of our military in combat zones; I have seldom been placed in a predicament that might cost me my life. Don’t get me wrong, in all my years in police work, I had threats, and guns or knives used against me and more than a few fights; some which, for a time, we weren’t sure who was winning. There was one time, in such a fight, that I awoke from unconsciousness, face down on a brick road and my first thought was, ‘If I don’t get up I am going to die’ Still, I don’t remember being scared, just aware of my circumstances. Once or twice, as a volunteer firefighter, on the end of a hose crawling through black smoke, unable to see, all I could do was feel my way and feel the intense heat around me… that was orifice puckering, without a doubt. Usually, though, it was after the incident, when there was time to contemplate what might have happened, then there was time to be afraid.

John Wayne is quoted as saying, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” Probably, if I had to stand in the open door of a C130 cargo plane, attached to a line to parachute out the door, I would probably be more afraid of that than anything else I can imagine (unless it involves a pit full of snakes in the dark…)  My son, Daniel, was in the U.S. Army Airborne and he loved the thrill of jumping. I would probably squeal like a little girl all the way out the door! daniel 325 1st brigade red falcons hhcAgain, John Wayne, in the movie, The Green Beret, spoke to a South Vietnamese colonel about parachuting. He said, “The first one is easy. It’s the second one that is hard to get them to make.”

Fear and courage are perhaps two sides of the same coin. In the Bible, there are several references to mighty men of valor. In the Chronicles and the books of First and Second Kings, we read of David’s army and men within those ranks that were such men. There were many who were very highly praised for their valor; but, only a select few attained to the highest rankings of the Mighty Men. At one point, outside the enemy’s camp, David spoke of desiring water from the well that was within the enemy’s headquarters. Unbeknownst to David, three of the ‘Mighty Men’ secreted their way into the enemy camp and obtained the water for their King. Upon their return, David learned of their honoring his request. He refused to drink the water, and said it was now of such value because of the risk the men took, all he could do was to offer it up to God as a sacrifice. The Mighty Men of Valor were more devoted to honoring their King than they were concerned about their own safety. They also, had a pretty strong belief in their ability to pull off the daring deed successfully. Did they experience fear? If they did not feel fear, could they truly have been courageous?

Can one exhibit courage unless it stands over the fear which seeks to overwhelm the man of valor? Courage from faith comes when one has gone through life-threatening scenarios because of one’s profession; even though, at the time, the adrenalin and training was enough to keep a person reacting.  Then, afterwards, to realize how fearful a thing it was through which they have come; to don the uniform again and go back at it, night after night; is what The Duke meant by, ‘saddling up anyway.’ A similar courage is found in the spouse of that person who, night after night, pats their loved one’s chest to make sure the one they love is wearing a vest; and then watches them walk out that door. Saddling up, also, is the soldier’s wife, a thousand miles away, as she says a prayer with her children for their daddy; kisses their foreheads and assures them, “Daddy is just fine, now go to sleep. He’ll be home as soon as he can.” She goes to her room then, and prays herself to sleep.

Perhaps some of the bravest people I have met are children. I have witnessed more courage by children in a hospital setting than anywhere else I have been. I volunteered with my dog, Gunner, at Akron Children’s Hospital. In the burn ward, on the cancer floor, awaiting surgery or overcoming an amputated limb, these are some of the most resilient and most tenacious; some of the strongest yet most fragile people I have ever met. The common ingredient among them… faith. Gunner at ACH.JPG

Many I met had a faith in God and in Jesus Christ. Many more weren’t sure about any theology, they just knew that Jesus loved them. Even though they did not understand why Jesus or God would allow them to be like they were, they just knew that Jesus loved them and was going to make sure they were Okay, even if that meant dying and going to heaven. That was the other thing they were sure of too, their place in heaven. That doesn’t mean there were not questions and doubts; fear and tears. At the end of the day, though, the children taught the adults around them great lessons in faith. Just knowing that Jesus would do what He said He would do; was enough for them! That is what Jesus was talking about when He said we must come to Him in childlike faith.

Childlike faith does not mean we blindly accept whatever comes our way with no depth of understanding. The Old Testament tells of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; three Jewish young men, taken captive and living as officials to the king in the palace, with faith as strong as a child. Refusing to bow in homage to the king in worship of his likeness, they were sentenced to be thrown alive into a super-heated furnace. Knowing the furnace would be certain death, they boldly told the king how certain they were, even if their God did not save them from the fire, He was still God; and everything would be Okay. They understood death was imminent, still they knew following what they believed to be God’s will for them was more important than what they might endure physically.

I come up against a misapplication of this theology at times when I speak to missionaries and others in similar service about contingency planning. Too often, there is an almost frivolous God will take care of it attitude and I make the case in my thesis: In Times of Risk, Developing Contingency Plans for Missionary Sending Churches and Agencies, which is available through Summit University, Richard J. Murphy Library, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. The Bible is replete with great examples of God-ordained contingency planning. Nehemiah is probably one of the clearest examples. One man works while another holds a spear and each works nearest their home to protect it also.

One particularly obstinate opponent to contingency planning, a former head of an international missionary sending agency, completely disagreed with my statement on martyrs for the faith. Often, we eulogize men and women who died while serving in a ministry capacity as martyrs when, in fact, they may have also have lived, Lord-willing by simple choices and planning. Sometimes, they could have stayed alive by just learning when to remain quiet. God knows, and I don’t judge; but, I also do not step in front of an on-coming training saying that God will protect me and if I die it must be His will! The Bible does teach, I believe, that God knows, from before we are born, the day that we will die. Because He knows we will die that day, stepping in front of that train, doesn’t necessarily mean it was His will for us to have done it! As a police officer, I always wore a bullet-proof vest and when driving, my seatbelt. Does that mean I did not have enough faith in God to protect me? No! It means I used the tools provided to me and the common-sense God endowed with me to be cautious.

Faith, the faith of a child, knows God will do what He says He will do. Such faith is what moves mountains. I can only echo the statement of the father of the little boy to Jesus.  When Jesus asked him if he believed, Mark 9:24 recounts the father’s desperate cry: “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’”

Man praying
Photo courtesy of How Crying Saved My Life by Marliza Gunter, HubPages

A Heavy Heart

Law Enforcement Officers have been branded with the name of ‘sheepdogs’ because the sheepdog will sense trouble and will place himself between the danger and the ignorant sheep; and yes, the sheepdog may even die protecting those sheep who don’t know enough to escape or fight for themselves.

by Dr. Ross L. Riggs                                                                                                                                       Blue Line badge

Often, I write light-hearted articles on a myriad of topics. Sometimes, I pen a more serious topic; but none, captures my heart as does this one. You see, America lost another brave warrior this weekend. An Ohio cop killed by a man involved in a domestic dispute who ambushed officers as they came to his home to try to restore the peace. This is Ohio’s fourth for this year and America’s 107th, an average of nearly 3 every week. With ten more week’s left in 2017, I cannot help but wonder who will be the thirty officers who won’t see 2018 ring in with their families come New Year’s Day? Most of them won’t be there for Christmas morning either. Not a very happy thought is it? As the father of a police officer, I cannot help but wonder if my son is to be numbered among them. Perhaps not this year, but next?

What is crucial to remember is that no one, no police officer, firefighter or any other human being dies without God’s consent and, I believe, that it must be that person’s pre-ordained time to die. I spent most of my adult life – up until not too long ago – wearing a badge and standing along the thin blue line. I always knew that I could die in the line of duty; but, I also knew that, if I was not doing the job that I loved, not protecting those who were not able to protect themselves, not serving my community as I felt I was called to do; that I could die on any given day by any number of means, even the threatened frying pan from time to time! What mattered to me the most was, if I was to die, that it would be for something that mattered.

Some may look at certain officers killed in the line of duty by ignorant, socio-paths who did not deserve to breathe the same air as human beings and say, What a waste! I say, What a wonderful sacrifice! Jesus Christ said, “No greater love has anyone than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Later in scripture, Paul writes to explain that Jesus died for the ungodly. He wrote, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die…” (Romans 5:6-8) And yet, police officers run toward danger when all others run away, and they don’t do it for the shooter, necessarily; although Officer Justin Leo was going to this man’s home to try to help them regain peace in their home. They do it for their community, their neighbors, their nation. The same people who deride them and seek ways to file complaints against them, declare their brutality to the social media hounds who pervert and distort the truth.

Law Enforcement Officers have been branded with the name of ‘sheepdogs’ because the sheepdog will sense trouble and will place himself between the danger and the ignorant sheep; and yes, the sheepdog may even die protecting those sheep who don’t know enough to escape or fight for themselves. Cops carry the moniker of sheepdog proudly. Would it be too much to ask if once-in-a-while, not expecting it might be more than that; but, at least occasionally, the sheep… instead of castigating and demanding retribution against police… maybe even a few of the sheep might, at the end of the day, look the sheepdog in the eye and say, “Thanks”?

Sheepdog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017, Pres. Trump, and Full Moats

If the first three weeks since the election are any barometer, the next four-year term of President-elect Trump will be filled with drama. Quality intelligence evaluation and contingency planning are not about drama but, as Sgt. Joe Friday, was known to say: Just the facts.

joe-friday

That is a simple enough statement about intel gathering and dissemination of information that may forestall the next major attempted attack on U.S. interests either at home or abroad. However, it belies the subtle art that is involved in not only reading the intelligence as it is gathered; but, in reading into its context. The message is often more than the sum of the translation. It includes a telltale hint of the motivation behind the dissemination of such information. That motivation will direct the seasoned analyst to dig beyond the face page and into the mind of the author of the text.

Recently, good intel was received that ISIS related malefactors had plans to rent U-Haul type trucks to obliterate crowds at Thanksgiving Day parades and festivities. SCI alerted local and the national offices to the intel. Later, a threat came against the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As anyone who watched the parade could attest, whatever might have been attempted was thwarted at some level by those prepared to take on the task.

In Dr. Riggs’ upcoming book, Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Times of Heightened Threat there is a call to arms for local citizens to first strengthen their homes, their castles – to make sure that the moat is full and the drawbridge is up. That doesn’t mean that the knights stay inside and await the attack. Rather, they have taken every measure to make certain their family is on a firm foundation in their faith, in their love for one another and in their physical and mental preparedness to meet the enemy at the gate. Once they have made certain their homes are secure, they prepare themselves to meet the enemy ahead of the enemy’s schedule and to help the local law enforcement authorities to do whatever it takes to keep their piece of America safe for themselves and for their posterity.bodiamcastle_cam2_021b

A quote from the book goes like this: “The enemy is on our doorstep. You can hunker down in the house, run out the back door to try to escape, or you can open that front door and send the enemy to meet the Judge. It is time to stop being afraid.”

This book is a call to arms and a call to re-kindle the faith of our fathers who forged the United States of America on the fires of battle against an enemy that was within their land as they held to their faith in God to bring about a peace with honor when the enemy was vanquished and not before. Watch for the book in early 2017 through Motivational Press.

On a Scale

We have all been asked that question in some form or another… On a scale from 1 to 10 how would you rate…? In 1978, I received my first collegiate ring. With a stone of deep blue, it was crested on its center with the scales of justice, reflective of my degree in criminal justice. The scale of justice is held high in the one hand of Lady Justice, who is blindfolded and carrying a sword in her other hand. Blind to preference, to position, status, race or creed, wealth or poverty; she remains in our history as a noble representative of what our system of justice should be. I know many noble minded persons who have dedicated their lives to being certain that the scales of justice are, in fact, balanced before the weight of true and tested evidence can be brought before determiners of guilt or innocence. Her shelforiginal name in the Latin is Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice and she is often accompanied by Prudentia the goddess whose name is contracted from providentia the ability to see the future as a sage might discern how best to proceed.  Representing the ideal of governing and disciplining oneself by reason, Prudentia’s accoutrements of a mirror and a snake allude to careful reflection and caution in moving forward. The Greek’s, whose gods and goddesses aligned with most of the Roman’s, called Prudentia ϕρονησιϛ (https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/tag/prudence-latin-prudentia) which is now usually translated as practical wisdom or rational choice. Together the pair would call for a careful weighing of all evidence upon the merits of each, alone and then choosing the best course for discipline.

What brought me to consider Lady Justice was a set of the scales of justice which I own. I was looking over a few items that adorn the library area of my study when it caught my eye. There sits, front and center the scales of justice and above it is the American and Christian flags, two symbols of my heritage, my faith, and my loyalty. Immediately to the left of the American flag is a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Immediately to the right of the Christian flag is a Bible from my father, which was given to him by a military chaplain, as he was recovering from wounds received when his ship was sunk off the coast of Normandy, June 6, 1944. Also there, among a few of the memories of my police and military service, stand three American Eagles from a larger set. These three are titled, “Courage Honor Sacrifice”, “Never Surrender” and “Never Forget”. The trio set the tone for what this small display means to me.

Among the books visible in the photograph are ones from the Ohio Retired Police Chiefs’ Association, a book from my time at the FBI National Academy and a book from my basic training days with the United States Air Force. More than my article or the information about me inside these books, each reminds me of people that reflect the titles carried by the three eagle sculptures.

Two retired chiefs, one who was gone before the Ohio Retired Police Chiefs Association was born and another who has been the heartbeat of the organization and the motivation behind many of my writings on honor within our ranks. They represent well Courage, Honor, Sacrifice. One was Chief George Ziga of the Alliance, Ohio Police Department and the other Chief Marion Taylor of the North Olmsted, Ohio Police Department. Near death, Chief Ziga admonished me, a young chief then, to stay true to my God, my values, my family and my profession. Anyone who ever knew Chief Ziga would tell you he represented the model for each of those objectives. Knowing Chief Taylor, his professionalism is informed by his Christian faith.

From the NA came a man, an FBI Special Agent, that I got to know while he was an instructor at Quantico. Now, a plaque and an annual service award commemorate his service which ended while on special assignment in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war in the mid-1990’s; less than ten years since I first met Livio A. Beccaccio. He is the epitome of Never Surrender. The award named for him is inscribed as follows: “The Livio A. Beccaccio Award is a living memorial presented to a FBI National Academy Associate member who has demonstrated exemplary character through an act of heroism, outstanding community service, innovation in law enforcement, or leadership reflective of that by which FBI Special Agent Livio A. Beccaccio lived.”

(http://www.fbinaa.org/FBINAA/About_Us/Awards___Scholarships/FBINAA/Members_Only/Awards_and_Scholarships.aspx?hkey=0346bbf8-a0ce-4a5b-87cc-65f5ffb87148)

Finally, from my days at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas, at the tail-end of the Vietnam War, a SSgt who took on a rag-tag flight of trainees, who had been to hell and back with our first TI who suffered severely with PTSD in the days of Vietnam when such a diagnosis was unknown. He was likely tagged as ‘shell shocked sergeant’ who probably never received any help. Our second TI, SSgt Gillam was a man of character and morals who knew his own true north. He took us from not knowing which end of the rifle the bullets exited to men prepared to move on in training and ready to head into harm’s way, if so ordered. He had seen and understood the cost of Vietnam and he stands strong as a model airman to never forget our POWs & MIAs, all our veterans, but particularly those from Vietnam; nor would SSgt. Gillam ever expect us to forget 9-11. Four men who represent the strength of the U.S.A.’s justice.

The bedrock of our criminal justice system, here in America, rests upon the scales of Lady Justice. Our honor is passed as a torch from those chiefs who took their oath with their hand upon the Bible and their hearts indwelt by the God of that Bible. Our freedom comes from the sacrifices like Livio Beccaccio, thousands of other fallen officers and even more men and women who don the shield every day and stand that thin blue line. Our heritage is passed to our next generations when we remember those who fought valiantly on foreign shores and here at home to keep the flag of America flying high.

Just as the banner of red and white stripes and shining white stars on a field of blue continue to fly and represent the most blessed nation on the face of the Earth, so too must our faith in the One Lord God who made us One in Him, compel us to live by faith and not by sight. We will always know times of trouble in our land and often they come from our own actions or our failure to act. But we, as citizens of America and saints of the Kingdom of God can know that Christ has already won the final victory. He calls us to remain faithful to our calling and to take up our cross and follow Him!

I know that there isn’t some fantasy goddess who holds the scales of justice in her hands. God’s Word informs me that it is Christ who brings justice. Isaiah prophesied and Matthew recorded Jesus quoting the prophet, ““Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles.” (Matthew 12:18 NKJV) Speaking of the role of police officers, Jesus also said, “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:4 NKJV)

It should be no wonder to us that, as I thought about those items on my shelf, those men came to mind in such a context. Each one of them were men of faith. They lived out remarkable witnesses because of that faith. Not one would claim any greatness on his own and certainly none would lay any claim to being anything apart from what they are within the Lord.

Law enforcement today is much maligned by the liberal media. Christians are too. Both are in good company since Christ, Himself, was counted among the criminals, scoffed at, beaten and abused. In America, the system may not be perfect, still though, the admonition of John Adams, a founding father and president concerning our legal system is upheld. “Better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man convicted.” The scales of justice balance out pretty well. Compared to other places I have seen firsthand, I’m proud to live and have served in America’s criminal justice system where restoration is possible for those who choose wisely. Likewise, for those who choose unwisely, there are consequences. On a scale of 1 to 10… I’ll score a ten that I’d rather be tried for something I’ve been alleged to do here in the United States than anywhere else in the world. I praise God that my life and my family are under the protection of American police officers and I thank Him daily for every single one of them and pray for their safety.

 

UNPINNED REVISITED

Sometime back I began a post that I titled, ‘Unpinned’. It was a reference to those of us who have retired from law enforcement. I realized this evening that I never finished that post. Allow me to begin again. Here are the first lines from the long ago post that never posted…

I have been connected, as most of you that have been following my writing for any period of time know, for several decades with law enforcement. It has been very difficult to ever see myself as ever truly separated from it. I have written, in times past, under the blog title of “Unpinned” which carried the picture of a badge with the pin open. My argument is that for those of us who are retired, the badge may be unpinned but it is never gone. You hear, at times, that there is no such thing as an ex-Marine and I think, for those who truly bleed blue as a life-long law enforcement officer, it is as true. That can have positive and negative consequences and it remains always for those who have such a dedication to their given profession, (many of us would use the term calling), to keep in a healthy balance family life and the job.

Even as I write this, my son is on patrol on midnight shift for the department from which I retired as Chief. I see, in him and in the comradery he has with the other cops (as well as some of the frustrations that come) quite a bit of myself so many years ago. However, he is going into the crucible of public police work in a much different era than I. When I began, America was just post-Vietnam. I was one of the last to enter the military during the time designated, the Vietnam Era. There was plenty of social unrest; but, it was mostly name calling and rock throwing. Today, it is assassinations from snipers at multiple locations without mercy.

Most of the retired – unpinned – cops I know still carry their credentials and with thanks to the H.W. Bush Administration, their firearms under the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act. We maintain our regular qualification at the same standards of officers working the streets. The retirees I know would stop to help an officer in trouble without a second thought for their own safety. Some might say that such retirees are not just unpinned, they’re unhinged! That may be more true than we want to admit! The inexplicable bond that comes from such a shared experience of law enforcement cannot be severed by time, age or distance. Many retirees may have angst toward the system which they left; but, never would they permit a brother officer to stand alone if they were in any way capable of standing with them… and when I use the term brother that is neutral to sex and determined only by the blue blood that courses through the veins.

This is a time when such a brotherhood must band together. At the same time, it must not erect a fortress wall against every citizen because there are armies of citizens who support that for which cops stand and are prepared to link arm-in-arm with them to keep the thin blue line resilient and strong. In my upcoming book, I use the term stretching the thin blue line for the way in which supportive citizens and the blue officers can stand as a force against evil and defy those who would seek to terrorize our homes.

Our local church now has a hired off-duty law enforcement officer at each service. Men of the church have dedicated themselves to meet with whichever officer happens to have the duty and before the day begins to pray with him. They pray for his safety, for the church, for his family and the community. Not once has the offer to pray been declined; but, every time it has been appreciated.

A local Christian university has just begun a four-year degree program in criminal justice. There is no better time for men and women studying to enter law enforcement or to improve their knowledge while in the career to receive such training from a faith-based, biblical standpoint. If you have never questioned and studied why you believe what you believe, you will believe anything. A bumper sticker bit of wisdom says that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything! An unexamined faith will never grow and the days in which police officers are now doing battle with the forces of evil requires a vibrant and burgeoning faith. Such a faith does not recoil for political correctness and as the Apostle Paul admonished, it does not grow weary in doing good.

If ever there was a time of vibrant opportunity for seasoned and retired law enforcement officers, who are men and women of faith, to take a hand in helping to nurture and challenge these current officers, it is now. America needs law enforcement officers who understand their work to be more than a calling. It is a ministry, God-given and God-blessed. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9 NKJV) Law enforcement officers walk every day and night along the thin line that touches evil on every point yet also touches goodness at corresponding points. To live within such a tension requires a strong faith in something. Most, who do know have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus, would struggle to define what it is that founds their faith except that they know there is something greater than themselves which is holding that line taut. It is little wonder, though, that when Jesus met a Gentile man of whom He declared had greater faith than any of the nation of Israel, that man was a 1st Century Roman police officer, a Centurion. (Matthew 8:10) Today is a day when America needs New Centurions of Faith. Thankfully, there are multitudes of them on the streets this very night holding strong in the battle against evil. If you have not prayed for them lately, please pray for them now. If you have not spoken to one lately and told them you support them, commit to doing so today and, if you have never asked a police officer if you can pray for him or her, I challenge you to do so. You will be overwhelmed by the response you receive.

On the back of my motorcycle helmet is a shield with a blue line through a field of black. It says, ‘to some this is just a thin blue line… to others it is a family crest.’ I may be unpinned. My family may even tell you that I’m unhinged. One thing I’m certain of and that is my Christ is who saw me through my career, even when I did not acknowledge Him and He stands ready to carry the next generation of cops to the end of their tours of duty, in whatever way that may come. I would ask every retired cop, who has faith in Christ, to join me in a strong commitment to do whatever it takes to uphold these new centurions in prayer each and every day.