Public Safety Graduates and (separately) mass shootings in 2017

As many of you know, I teach at the graduate level for Tennessee Tech University. Last weekend, we had several students graduate with a Master of Science in Public Safety. Any time this happens, I have hope for the future. I have hope that the young students will be able to identify gaps in public safety, and because they have never been or only recently started working in the field, they will think of ways to protect the public that us old crusty’s don’t think of (because of the constraints we often see). I also am hopeful that the adult graduates who have been in the field will take the information they learned from us, and think of innovative ways to find, and mitigate, the issues that we see in public safety. These people are the future of public safety. While myself or someone else may come up with a few pieces of the puzzle, these graduates may be able to finish the puzzle on a specific issue. Seeing how bright these students are, gives me more hope for the safety of our children and grandchildren!

If you have read my blog before, you know I am a data guy. I usually dislike collecting data, but I love to look at data for insight and anomalies. While many people look at the big picture, I prefer to look at the little pieces that make up a more complete picture. I have learned that the little pieces can reveal things that we were not aware of, or that has slipped under the radar because it seemed insignificant.

Recently, the FBI came out with a not-so-surprising report on the number of mass shootings that occurred in 2016-2017, and for the most part, it is portion of the larger narrative on mass shootings. If we look over the statistics from 2016 and 2017, then compare them to the statistics of previous years, we can see a stark increase in mass shootings which are up 34%. For those of us that are daily working on this problem, or even the common person monitoring the mass shooting problem, it should be no major surprise!

The FBI began collecting data on mass shooters in 2000 and has kept track of data since. Some key takeaways from the most recent 2017 report are:

  • 50 mass shooting incidents occurred in 50 different states
  • 221 people were killed by mass shooters in 2017
  • 722 people were injured by mass shooters
  • 13 law enforcement officers were killed by mass shooters in 2017
  • 20 law enforcement officers were injured
  • All 50 of the mass shooters in 2017 were male
  • 13 mass shooters committed suicide
  • 11 were killed by police
  • 8 shooters were stopped by citizens

Of course, there is a lot more data in this report, but I think you get the idea. 2017 is acknowledged as the deadliest year of mass shootings since data has been collected. In full disclosure, some of this death and injury toll can be attributed to two major mass shooting incidents; the Las Vegas Shooting and the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

While I could go on and on about the statistics, one key statistic sticks out: Citizen intervention. It appears that in 10 of the incidents, citizens determined that they were not going down without a fight. Of those 10 incidents, four individuals without a firearm confronted or persuaded the mass shooter to stop the killing. In four incidents, individuals with firearms engaged the shooter and stopped the shooter. In the two unsuccessful attempts, one citizen with a valid firearm permit attempted to engage the shooter and died, and one who engaged the shooter with a firearm caused the shooter to go to another location.

In closing, let me remind everyone that they should maintain situational awareness at all times. Seeing that little thing that is out of place, or not quite right might save your life or many others. It might also allow you to intervene and stop the shooter before they ever start, much like is shown in this video.

Be vigilant this week, because according to statistics, another mass shooting is about to occur. Until next week, be safe and aware, … Mark

Are you monitoring your child/grandchild?

First let me apologize for being late with this weeks blog post. I unfortunately had to spend a few days in the hospital, and I am now playing catch-up.

I wanted to take a few minutes this week to encourage parents and grandparents to monitor their children. All too often, after an attack we hear “We didn’t see any warning signs” from the parents. After further investigation, we find out that the signs were there, but the parents were too busy trying to make a living, taking their kids to events (or some other thing), so they missed these glaring signs.

We need to make sure that we listen to our children and grandchildren regularly! We see the case of the grandmother that reported her grandson in Washington State and most likely saved a lot of lives. She found a rifle hidden in a guitar case, and then his manifesto. His grandmother was alert, and watching for signs. She did the right thing, and likely saved a lot of lives.

Having said this, we need to know what our children are doing (even adult children). Who they are hanging out with? What are they posting on social media? Are they fascinated with guns or death? Of course, this is just the starting point, and there is much more that we need to be aware of.

Some say that this is an invasion of their privacy. Well, perhaps it is, but isn’t it our responsibility to ensure our children and family members are mentally and physically well? Shouldn’t we watch them and guide them so they do not get into trouble? Isn’t it our responsibility?

Beyond keeping our children from getting into trouble, we need to make sure all is well with them. In today’s world, our children can be bullied, and now it doesn’t even have to happen face-to-face. Cyber bullying and other types of bullying can lead children and young adults to commit suicide. Some have even suggested that it can cause them to become violent revenge killers. Being aware could save their life, or others lives.

We also need to make sure that our children are not suffering from depression. Sometimes, just the shear stress of being a teenager can cause a mental breakdown. Only those parents that are involved with their children will be able to see problems, especially if the child is trying to hide it from their parents.

We also need to realize that some children, young adults, and even older adults, can lose control if they feel unwanted. This is especially true if they feel unwanted by the opposite sex. Several male mass shooters have spoken (either on their manifesto or on camera) that the girls that have ignored them will pay. Others mass shooters were going through (or had recently gone through) a divorce or split. We need to make sure that friends, family, and our children are safe, and that they are not on the verge of committing a horrible and senseless crime or even killing only themselves.

Finally, I wanted to talk about the consequences of not identifying these behaviors prior to someone acting out. I am fairly certain that most of us could not forgive ourselves if we missed certain common signs, and family members or our children killed people. Even if they do not act, but just talk about acting on the impulse, it can ruin an entire family’s life. If you watch the video below, you can see how the actions of one had unintended  consequences for the entire family.

I hope that you will not forget what was said in this week’s blog. We can stop some of these acts of violence by being aware of what our children, grandchildren, and other family members are doing. If it appears they may be heading down the wrong road, do not hesitate to call the police. While it may be difficult to turn our own flesh and blood in, how much more difficult would it be to know you could have stopped them from doing something, and you didn’t! Until next week, please make sure you are vigilant, … Mark

Never enough information!

On Monday, I attended a Sheepdog training seminar in Peoria IL. Some of you may be wondering why someone who has tens of thousands of hours of research over 14 years would go see a competitors seminar.

Well, let’s start of with the word competitor. In our business, we are not competitors, or at least we shouldn’t be. We are missionaries looking for the same end, protecting the flock. We should be working together, just like multiple Pastors work together to save souls.

How true is this? While there, I talked with Jimmy Meeks, and when he realized who I was, he asked me if I had enough business cards to hand them out to everyone (I believe the final count was 402 people). Notice he didn’t revert back into a hole and try to be defensive, he wanted me to be active in teaching the principles to save peoples lives. Those of us that are in this for the right reason want to work together to protect God’s Children. You can see some of what Jimmy teaches and preaches by watching this video.

The second thing that I want to point out, I went there to gain more knowledge! Maybe they were teaching something new, something that I was not aware of, something that could save a life! I learned several things, but what was most telling to me were the actual testimonies, such as the one by Carl Chinn.

Carl was involved with two incidents, at two separate venues. The first incident in 1996 was a mentally disturbed gunman, who brought a bomb and firearms into Focus on the Family ministry. Carl and two woman were held hostage for hours. The second incident occurred in 2007, at New Life Church in Colorado Springs CO.  A gunman who had killed two people at a ministry the day before, waited until hired law enforcement left the church, then he began killing people. He started in the parking lot, and then worked his way inside. Carl talked about the way chunks of concrete pillars seemed to explode from the gunman’s shots, and how Jeanne Assam was in the right place at the right time, and she shot the perpetrator. Here is a brief video of Carl being interviewed about this incident. Carl is an advocate of tactical training for church security teams.

I should point out that Saving Lives and Souls does not advocate for, or against, using firearms to protect the church. We do however believe that that the right type of firearm in the hands of a well trained individual can save lives in the event of a church shooting. The decision is ultimately up to the church.

The third and final speaker was Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman. Dave talked about preparing yourself bulletproofing your mind. Dave, who has a graduate degree in Psychology, spoke about the mindset we need to have. Dave told many stories and provided a lot of information. One my favorite stories he shared was about World War two, and can be seen in this video.

In the end, I walked away with more knowledge about how to protect the flock. That is the reason I went to this and will go to other seminars. You can never have too much knowledge when it comes to protecting God’s flock. That is why we all encourage you to attend more than one training on protecting the church. I also invite you to look at materials that these men of God offer. Don’t forget the tourniquet, which can save lives! Until next week, … Mark

 

Another Active Shooter Last Week

We saw last week that an active shooter, a 15-year-old boy, caused more death and destruction in a school in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky State Police, the teachers and several students had recently undergone active shooter training. Unfortunately, it does not appear as if the entire school received the training.

Looking at this from my perspective, the lack of training to every student is a downfall in many school (and church) active shooter plans. Every person should be trained in what to do when an active shooter (or bomber) makes it to the parking lot or crosses the threshold of the doors. If one person does not know what to do, they become more vulnerable than those that have had the training.

It is for this reason that I implore churches and schools to make plans, to train everyone, and to practice that plan. The more it is trained and practiced, the more likely that those involved will not only act, but they will take the proper actions that will save not only themselves, but others too.
I think I hear some voices out there saying “We have layered security and a security team: Do we really need to disturb people with what to do, and then practice it?” The answer is YES you do! Why? When you practice something, you build up muscle memory and brain memory. If you have trained their brains and muscles to do something under calm conditions, it is more likely that they will do the right thing when trouble comes through the doors. Secondly, are you 100% confident that your layered security and security team can keep a shooter or bomber outside? I have known some of the best public safety officers and soldiers that have been surprised by active shooters and bombers! What makes you think that your team is superior to all active shooters or bombers?

The same principles we teach for churches, can be used in schools. Let me plainly state that if you do not prepare for an active shooter or bomber, and revisit your plans regularly, you are setting yourself (and all those you protect) up for failure. Do you want the next headline to be “20 dead, 18 Injured in Church Shooting” or do you want it to be “Would be Shooter Taken Down and Detained Before Hurting Anyone”? The decision is yours, and complacency and/or procrastination will not help you if, and when, the time comes, … Mark

Personal thoughts-Cleo Warnick

I asked my wife to write down her personal thoughts about filming the active shooter video we are producing. I have also asked others to do the same, so you will likely see more of these in the near future. I find it amazing that even though this was a bunch of simulated scenes, with specific breaks between shots, it still brought about some serious emotions. Please ponder this account, and enjoy it, … Mark

Cleo Warnick’s thoughts and feelings-

As the day of videotaping began, I tried to bring myself back mentally to the days of secondary school drama club when I tried to imagine to be in a real situation we were about to act in.  There, the similarities between the two end.  On the day of filming, we were about to try and show what may happen, how we may feel and react, based on being unprepared and uninformed on what to do or expect, while hoping to maintain some safety…

…It seemed like a normal day as part of the congregation; a few greetings were exchanged; a little light-heartedness in quick chats before settling into the pews.  Everything was as it usually is.  Aware that cameras were already rolling, it occurred to me this sameness was how many disastrous and tragic days often begin when an active shooter situation occurs.  Empathy for those who have suffered a active shooter or bomber situation engulfed my thoughts.  Unremarkable, indistinct beginnings of a day, can turn to horror and terror at the blink of an eye, lives never to be the same, or worse, lost.

While listening to the opening of the morning’s messages, I felt vulnerable, because I clearly knew why we were all gathered.  The speaker continued, and we listened to his words. It was a pleasant day, and the weather was good.  Good friends had joined us, which is always a blessing.  Suddenly, a commotion broke behind me and was increasing; I, in the middle pews, I became aware of an individual storming past me down the narrow aisle towards the pastor, strangely holding his arm up with something in his hand!

Shock; disbelief; unreal; people screaming.  What do I do? What do I do? In church; he has a gun! Everyone was scattering in different directions.  Do we try to get out?  We are helpless.  Fear; overwhelming fear was my primary response. I told myself that I needed to remove myself, yet I felt frozen to the spot. Not asleep. This is my worst nightmare.

Okay, cut!

Dr. Warnick who was directing, stopped us and explained all that we could have done to lessen the impact of this individual on the church, and its people.  We needed to work together, identify our available resources, and have select people be prepared in the ways he suggested.  We needed to be more vigilant, or observant, of unusual behavior, and its implications.  Dr. W surprised us by showing us how many ways to exit, and made me realize the importance of uniting in our efforts to prepare ourselves and in so doing, strengthen our defenses.  There are actions people can take, as opposed to being sitting frozen to the spot, that can help them and others stand a greater chance of survival.  To be honest, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought about crawling under the pews for protection, or as a way to escape.

Someone knowledgeable in emergency preparedness can work with the regulars to pinpoint all that can be done with greater safety, in the face of adversity to facilitate a better outcome.  We can understand inner turmoil and horror while witnessing horrible events, but would we not sooner have had some training and instruction on improving the situation?

An example is where we would not go out in pouring rain without a waterproof coat, and are therefore more likely to stay dry.  A raincoat helps to keep us dry and avoid colds.  At work, in the event of a fire or other emergency, we look to the trained individual(s) who have been prepared to work with employees in such difficulty.  Usually, there are practice fire drills.  It makes sense to know what to do.  The ‘its not going to happen around here’ is an ideal, not a guarantee.  Preparation strengthens the individual and the group.  Not knowing what options there are, or what to do for the best under the circumstances, creates fear in itself.

The above are some thoughts, feelings and visualizations that I experienced during filming an instructional video under the guidance of Dr. Mark Warnick, emergency management specialist.  He has spearheaded and is producing this video to help others be better prepared for the purpose of saving lives.

 

Cleo Warnick

Master’s degree learner in Clinical Psychology

 

Blog changes

After much thought and contemplation, the Board of Directors of Saving Lives and Souls has decided to make some changes to how often we publish our  blog at this time.

Due to the time constraints that myself, and that other board members face, we have decided that my commitment will be reduced in writing my part of the blog to only once per week. The reason for this is simple, providing this information and writing these blogs take time, and my talents are also needed elsewhere. I am still working on post-production of the instructional video, teaching university classes, attempting to finish a book, and providing seminars on active shooters. The blog has slowed all of these processes down substantially.

The information I have provided in the blog (to this point), has laid a basic foundation for churches to get started in preventing and surviving active shooters.  A church that has made the decision to protect their flock can obtain the basic information to protect their church and congregants from what I have posted in these blogs. They can at least get started from the information that has been shared via the blog. Should they have any questions, they can contact us and we will answer those questions, free of charge.

If you have made the decision to move forward, they should consider a seminar either for their church or even their community and include all houses of worship. Should you want a live seminar, we have suggestions of who to contact. These suggestions are based on a holistic approach of protecting the church with Gods word as the foundation. Those recommendations include contacting either:

Sheepdog Safety Training

Warnick and Associates

While there may be others out there, we are cautious with who we endorse. The reason, … we care about you! We do not want to recommend someone that may provide bad, incomplete, or non-scriptural information to you! If you have suggestions for other seminar providers, we would be happy to evaluate them for you and then potentially suggest them as well. These suggestions are not about making money for anyone, this is about protecting God’s children!

As we make this transition in our blog status, we look forward to any questions or suggestions. If it has not been covered in our blog, and it might be something useful that others may be interested in, either myself or one of the directors of the organization will address it in a blog, so everyone can learn more.

It is my pleasure to serve you in this ministry. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time through our “Contact us” form. Until the next blog, may God keep you safe, … Mark

Watch police training for active shooters

Today, I am sharing police training videos that we shot for our instructional video, which should be released in July. Please note, these videos will be substantially less professional looking than the instructional video.

Single Officer

Two Officers-Training

Three Officer Training

Training on clearing Sunday School Rooms

I hope this gave you some insight of what law enforcement may do if they are called to your church, … Mark

Bombings: Could they be coming to a U.S. church?

Some of you are looking at the title of today’s blog and asking “Is he nuts, that isn’t a problem!”. Well, it may not be a problem in the United States yet, but I firmly believe it will be in the near future. Much like I predicted in 2004 that active shootings in churches would increase, I am predicting that we will see active bombers in the churches sometime in the near future.

We only need to look at the trends of the past to see some aspects of the future.  Specifically, I am look at the bombings in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Egypt (each a separate link) to understand how these bombings could be in our future. I also looked at the most recent attempt to bomb the New York City subway system. With the availability of how to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) being easy to find online, it also leads me to believe that this type of escalation is not far-fetched.

It is important to note that not only Christian Churches may be subject to these bombings. We need to also consider the possibility of bombing attacks on Jewish Synagogues, Muslim Mosques, Sihk Gurdwara’s, and many other types of houses of worship. To be quite honest, no house of worship should be excluded from the possibility that an IED may be used to cause death and destruction.

The individuals who will commit bombings in houses of worship (in my opinion) will be religious zealots. Several have come to mind when using this term. On both sides of the Muslim religion (Shiite and Sunni), radicals have caused death and destruction using IED’s in the name of Allah. They have instigated bombings and shootings against what they perceive to be infidels. If they did it in other countries, what makes us think that they wouldn’t also do the same to houses of worship in the United States?

Let me PLAINLY state Not all Muslims are radicalized!!! 

Only a small amount of Muslims have violent tendencies, and in almost every case they have been radicalized by specific groups, or they are supporting those groups by “Helping them out”. We should not judge all Muslims based on the actions of a few: this would be prejudicial, and it would not be based on the Word of God (love thy neighbor)

Zealots come in all types of religions. Think about the church bombing (and many others types of bombings) in Birmingham, AL during August of 1963. This was a zealot group causing death and destruction against a race, and based on zealot religious beliefs. In most of those bombings, the KKK and their religious followers were thought to be responsible for most, or all, of the bombings. As we look at zealots, we could see the potential for bombings coming from other groups that hold religious, racist, or governmental beliefs (e.g. Timothy McVeigh and the OKC bombing).

The point I am trying to make is that there are a large group of zealot organizations that are escalating their rhetoric. Data suggests that not only will active shootings will continue to increase, but also bombings. Instructions to create IED’s are a dime-a-dozen, and houses of worship are soft targets. Often, they can walk in and nobody will confront or question them.

While the aforementioned zealots are the most likely to commit bombings, we also cannot discount those with mental or psychiatric disorders. They too can cause death and destruction using IED’s, and more than a few individuals with these conditions can be capable of building bombs. In fact, the list of individuals who could cause death and destruction could go on, and on. Almost anyone can be the bad guy, even that nice man at the grocery store.

As I close for today, I wanted to let you know that throughout this week, I will be sharing how you can protect yourselves from bombings and bombers. I will also share strategies on how to increase your chances of survival should they get past you defenses. As we head to the New Year, this information may come in handy. Until tomorrow, … Mark

Initial training for Church PIO

Today, I want to share a 45 minute long video created by the Christian Emergency Network. Let me plainly state that this is a resource, not information that Saving Lives and Souls produced or created. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we thought we would share this vital information. For that reason, today’s blog will only be the link for the PIO Basic (free) online course. You, and your team, can learn much of what you need to know about the PIO duties and responsibilities from this video. Thanks, … Mark

 

Planning the exercise

When we plan exercises, we want to make them as realistic as possible. That is why choosing which person should play the  perpetrator (or patient) is so important. You want someone that is imaginative, and who can think on their feet. With this, you should give them the basic scenario (man with a gun, robbing the church, heart attack, etc.), then let them do their thing. You should tell them the basics of what you want to test, but you should not tell the team what is coming. You don’t want the actor to follow exactly what you tell them to do, you want them to do the unexpected so that you can get a firm grasp on how your team will respond to surprise situations. You will find that if you pick the right person, they will push your team to the limits.

Even better, try using multiple people who could be the perpetrator or patient. If you have four or more people willing to play the bad guy or patient, then it tests you even more. Let them come in a sit down in different spots. Behaviorally profile them to see who is acting strange, or who is showing signs of carrying a weapon. If it is a medical issue you are testing, then the patient can be ill, and the person next to them is panicked or ill. Perhaps they become enraged and pull a weapon. Perhaps one is a perpetrator, and they injured (stabbed or shot) someone so you have to neutralize the situation, then treat the patient. You could even go with less probable situations, such as one active shooter that stands up and draws a firearm, and when the team responds, a second shooter engages the security team.

If approached properly, these exercises can be a lot of fun. In fact, several people I know have said “We need to do another exercise day soon! That was fun!” While it may be fun, it also allows the security team to look and act on different scenarios. Additionally, if and when the time actually comes, they will most likely not have to think about what to do, they will fall back on their training.

Finally, when all is said and done, then everyone should meet and talk about what went right and what went wrong. If the church has cameras, or someone is recording the exercises, you can even go back and look at the video. Make sure you incorporate the evaluators’ feedback, because they are a totally neutral party.

Tomorrow, I will discuss what to do with the feedback. May God bless you and keep you safe, … Mark