Do you have a plan?

In nearly every business large and small, you can often find a floor plan posted on the walls that the employees could use in case of a fire. You can usually find the tornado drill directions hanging near this posting, as well. This has been commonplace for years and years. Many of these businesses will take several times a year to practice these drills by having all of the employees do a walkthrough to make sure everyone would be prepared in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, in today’s world, there is another emergency that is becoming more and more common. Workplace violence and active shooter incidents are growing to become a regular story on any given news program. Many businesses and public places lack the preparation needed in this kind of emergency. Just like the fire drill and tornado drill, it is an excellent idea for any business to have an active shooter/workplace violence plan in place with the proper practice for its employees. Proper planning and rehearsal could save lives, should a situation ever arise.

As a law enforcement officer and nine-year S.W.A.T. veteran, I take great pride in training to respond as rapidly and ready to neutralize any threat to the best of my training and capabilities as do my brave brothers and sisters in blue. However, the reality is that an active shooter can take many lives and can cause an enormous amount of damage, both physical and mental in mere moments, long before law enforcement could be on the scene. Being prepared and developing a well-rehearsed plan should be your first line of defense against a violent predator. This plan could be the only thing that stops casualties and saves lives. This plan should be taught to all personnel and practiced regularly. Like anything, the more an event happens, the more we learn from them. Unfortunately, this is true of violent predators as well. These situations are becoming more and more fatal, for every incident that happens, the next monster learns how to take lives more efficiently than the last.

We too, can and should learn from past devastation. Using past events can teach us a lot about what actions to incorporate into formulating a plan to defend our workplaces against violence. Every day we go to work to get our jobs done, make our paycheck, and go back to the safety of our homes. Have you ever given any thought about what you would do if the unthinkable happened? Would you have a plan? Would your co-workers know what to do if someone came through the door and created a storm of violence? Much like the tornado and fire drills that have been in place for years, we need to have a plan where everyone works together to reduce the damage that a violent monster could create. The right moves at the right time could be the difference between survival and unspeakable horror.

If your company or business needs help to put a plan together, contact GäRD Defense Solutions for a free consultation.

Sheep Within The Sheepdogs

LTC Dave Grossman author of On Killing wrote of an analogy told to him by an old Retired Colonel. This analogy compares the general population, Law enforcement/Military, and people who wish others harm, to sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. In short, this comparison talks about how the vast majority of the population are sheep; in that, they would never intentionally hurt anyone. Law enforcement and Military are the sheepdogs, who watch over the sheep, ready to do violence to anyone that may try to harm the flock. Lastly, the wolves, these are the people that prey on the innocent through crime and violence. This has become a very popular analogy, especially in the law enforcement community, complete with cool t-shirts and bumper stickers so we can constantly remind ourselves that we are noble heroes that will charge toward danger at a moments notice. Don’t get me wrong, I love the analogy, and it fits within context. The problem I see is that people fail to recognize that this analogy is more of a mindset comparison and not a physical comparison. LTC. Grossman talks about being a sheepdog is a decision, not an assignment handed out by some genetic code. You see, unlike real sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves, people are all physically the same creature. Merely by deciding to go from sheep to sheepdog does not automatically make you grow fangs and long claws, with the speed and agility to hunt the mighty wolf. You’re still physically a soft, fluffy sheep.

The thing that truly separates us other than our mindset is education and training. As I began to commit myself to teach the law enforcement community, I began to see a pattern. A pattern of officers, who are great human beings, who would run toward danger at a moment’s notice, who are true sheepdogs. With one problem. They do so with all the training of an everyday sheep, sheep chasing down the wolves. I would make an argument that this is even more dangerous than simply being a sheep wandering about the field minding my own business and simply hoping that the wolf never comes. Law enforcement, however, does not have the option. We all raised our hand, voluntarily, and said we will find the danger, seek out the bad and violent and run straight toward it. So how is it that the people that have chosen such a path in life are so reluctant to prepare for this moment? To put time on the range, draw your pistol from your holster and get some dry fire time in, to put added time and money into learning self-defense or a martial art or simply lift some weights. It truly bothers me to see brothers and sisters from all over have to be dragged into a defensive tactics training, and reluctantly go through the motions to the absolute minimum. When in reality, they might learn something that could save their life. From the bottom of my heart, I truly have a deep-seated love and respect for anyone that would choose the life of a sheepdog. Sheepdogs are not only Police Officers, Soldiers, but anyone out there prepared to defend their fellow man. But, I implore you to make sure you’re not just a sheep chasing wolves. Be prepared, get more sleep, eat a little cleaner, workout, train with and be proficient with all your weapons, and learn something about how to effectively put your hands on someone. Do these things even if it means a sacrifice of money or time. You, your partners, your family, and your community are worth it. Run toward enough wolves you’re going to catch one eventually, know what to do with it. I write this, knowing that I have a lot of work to do on myself. I will never be satisfied with the level at which I operate, and I have so much room for improvement. My business partner and I are always students first, looking to learn new things. 

If you or your department are seeking training, you can find us at for all training options. Contact us today for questions or a free quote.  

Tough Guys Talk Love

As a follow up to "earn your Post-Its, " lets talk about tough guys talking love.

In the life of a sheepdog, we spend countless hours witnessing horrific car crashes, violence, death, suicide and are recipients of grievances from many, it has become common to develop a hard exterior. We spend many hours practicing violence physically and mentally. We shoot guns at lifelike targets, punch each other in the face, choke each other, and rehearse footwork for room entries to avoid being shot in the face. We scan our surroundings each time our environment changes, looking for the ninjas to come and get us. We study case law and legal codes, so we don't get beat up on the stand by a defense attorney.

At times, I have put my walls up, and for a long time, I kept only those who share those experiences with me close to me. Many influences recently have helped me grow, everything from podcasts, music, my assignment within the police department, and the most apparent, friends and family. These influences have encouraged me to take a step away from the constant negativity that my senses endure and to focus on the positives. If you know me, you know that I am a very optimistic positive dude, so this isn't a "turning a new leaf post" this is a post to shed some light on the fact that it is OK and even beneficial for tough guys to talk love. Unfortunately, it often takes a critical incident for us to stop worrying about all the things that aren't truly important and to focus on what is.

While being fully emerged in the pressures I described above, finding and focusing on the things you love is essential. What do I love? The sun coming up, birds singing and a cool breeze in the air during a morning run. A "normal" work schedule that allows me to be more involved in the lives of my wife and kids. A night hanging with my brothers in blue having beers and busting balls when inevitably one of them says, " I love you, bro."

What does that "I love you, bro" mean? It genuinely means I love you. When confronted with life-changing events daily with others, the bond is unexplainable. And it is OK to tell your bro that you love'em. Likely, any tough guy you know talks about the things he loves, maybe not publicly, but when traumatic events are the norm, the appreciation for things that we love intensifies. In a time when Veterans and LEOs are taking their own lives, it is essential for us to love and support one another. So the tough guys here at GäRD Defense Solutions will talk about how much we love our wives, kids, friends, the sun, stars, ocean and anything else we find beautiful and loveable because it is OK for tough guys to talk love. If you are a Veteran or First Responder who needs an ear, reach out to us.

Take this opportunity to reach out to someone you love and let them know!


What do your Post-Its say about you?

Every year since I’ve been with my wife, including when we were dating, she has gone out of her way to make some great Valentine’s Day gifts by hand. These gifts are typically hand made and well thought out. Usually planned months in advance, and quite honestly blow my gifts in return out of the water, as I am not the biggest Valentine’s Day guy. She self admittedly does this as much or more for herself, than she does for me. My wife is incredibly crafty and loves making handmade crafts, however, tasked with being a power mom, house and schedule manager, cooker, cleaner, and runner of most tasks, and crafting falls by the wayside. Valentine’s Day allows for her and her sister to get together, drink wine, and make crafts by hand. The end result often leaves me feeling pretty bad and slightly guilty about the generic card I got from the store. This past Valentine’s Day was different.

Both our cups were flowing over, schedules were hectic, and the sister, wine drinking date never came to fruition. In an almost apologetic manner, my wife kept advising me not to expect anything like past gifts and that her idea was “okay” but not great, and thrown together at the last minute. For me, this was good news because I was feeling less guilty about my V-Day shortcomings with each reminder. Valentine’s Day came and nearly went, and no gift was given until late evening when I walked into our master bathroom. As I walked into the bathroom, taped to the mirror, 54 heart-shaped post-its in the shape of a large heart. Each post-it started with “I love that” or “I love when” or “I love how,” followed by a thing that my wife loves about me or something I do. I began to read through the list of traits that she had listed on the mirror, and I could see through the spaces between each heart I was visibly smiling. Some were light-hearted about some inside joke, and some were deeper, maybe about the way we’ve handled personal moments together. By the time I had finished, the gift that she had proclaimed to be hastily put together had quickly become one of my favorites of all the gifts that she’s ever given me. You see, many of the things that I was reading I’ve never heard her say out loud before. It was a deep insight into the things that we do for our loved ones that are often observed, appreciated, and then glossed over due to the fact that the four-year-old has to be at dance, and I have to be at work, or teaching or the yard needs to be mowed...dinner is ready...etc… This simple gesture of handwritten notes on obnoxiously pink heart-shaped paper let me know that I’m being observed, noticed, and appreciated. It then hit me. My wife is not the only person watching me and making post-its of me. I know in my head that I’m trying to be the best husband, father, friend, employee, business partner, and teacher that I can possibly be. And though I fall short often, my efforts are there and appreciated.

I left those notes up for nearly three weeks until they started to peel and had a hard time sticking to the mirror. (not to mention it was time for some Windex in between those notes) I didn’t leave them up for my ego, to remind me of how great I am. I left them up as a reminder to go into each Day and earn those same appreciations. A reminder that people are watching, observing, and making post-its about me. I am a father of two, husband, employee, teacher, and son, proudly. The decisions we make that make the most impact on the people we touch are often not the ones we make when those people are watching, but rather the decisions we make when the camera isn’t looking. There is a trickle-down effect that happens when we are always trying to do the right thing. Be a better, more disciplined human who tries with all their effort to make the right decisions even when no one is watching. And when we fail, and we will, how do we learn and respond differently. The trickle-down effect will shape who we are when those that matter are watching. Who is watching you? Who is taking notes? Your spouse, partner, kids? Perhaps you’re a teacher, coach, or boss. I ask, what do your post-its say about you? If you like what they say, remember to wake up each Day and earn every damn one of them again, and new ones if possible. If you don’t like them, start now and change them. I’m not for a minute trying to say go into the world and worry about what every stranger that you run across thinks about you, lord knows I do not do this. I am saying, go into the world and care about how YOU think of you. Care about what those that are the closest think of you.

My wife eventually took the post-its down, laminated each one of them individually and placed them in a small bag for me to keep with the gifts of years past. But I continue to look at them from time to time as a reminder to earn my post-its. I strive each Day to make more. Thank you to my wife for noticing my efforts and putting up with my fails. I love you.