mans best friend

empty bowl

Todays Crossfit WOD had a link to the Saddleback Leather Company. It was to a story called In memory of Blue. If you are a dog owner it may make you feel a bit down, but its worth the read anyway.

He certainly wasn’t a backyard dog that I threw a bone to now and then. We were usually together 24 hours a day. He always had to be leaning against me at night and during the day always had to at least have his paw or chin resting on me in the truck. When I was sad, he was quiet. When I was happy, he was too. He knew me almost better than a human could have and I knew him almost better than I know myself.

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follow me if you want to live

Another GREAT post over at Straight Forward in a crooked world. This one is called Dark arts for Good Guys: Flight Plan. In it the author discusses how to “beat feet” if you are ever caught away from home when the shit hits the fan. Right away he addresses what is perhaps the the most important issue when it come to getting people to do ANYTHING…leadership:

The other thing you are going to have to do is lead. You may think its a given, but its one of the single biggest components missing in a crisis. When the shit has hit the fan there is no room for democracy. One person must lead and direct and the others must follow.

CCW classes teach about using shooting tactics and techniques, clearing holsters, and repeating the worn and increasingly untrue statement that most shootings happen at night with less than five shots fired inside seven yards. Very few are teaching students how to lead their people and/or families out of harms way.

Hang with me on this, because the immensity of leading a group, regardless of who they are in your life (co-workers or family), out of an extended hostile environment is far more important than the weapons cache you have in your room.

I’ve been taking to reading this guys stuff more and more lately. In my blogging I tend to focus on “rules of thumb” and “information nuggets” with a philosophical or opinion piece here and there. This guy has a talent for explaining the “nuts and bolts” of this sort of stuff. Give it a read.

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belts and responsibility

English: simple image of ICHF black belt denot...
English: simple image of ICHF black belt denoting rank of 1st Dan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Urban Samurai has a good post about martial arts belt ranks and the idea that they confer some sort of responsibility. I posted the following comment on it;

Hmmm…I’m a little split on this issue. At its root, belts were developed by Dr Kano solely as an indicator of skill, not as some form of status, power or authority. In our western culture I believe that people easily confuse the idea of “rank” in martial arts and “rank” in military terms. In the martial arts “rank” should simply be a way of telling who knows what by sight IMO. The rest of it should be expected of EVERYBODY in equal measure. In the military, “rank” has to do with authority over subordinates (and responsibility for mission accomplishment) for the accomplishment of military goals. It is limited in terms of span and scope. In the dojo rank should be a mutually accepted system that helps in instruction..it should NOT be a system of “authority” or “command”.

I think there is a real “danger” when people invest too much in the concept of “belt responsibility”. Belts having “responsibility” within the walls of a dojo or the political responsibilities of an Art as you describe here are perfectly reasonable, as they have much to do with Kanos initial concept..the transfer of skill and knowledge. When it comes to “morals/honor/duty/warriorship/etc”, I have a few issues with the idea that a belt confers any more or less responsibility than what would be expected of anybody else within a dojo or outside of one. Sure, a black belt who has been around the schools “honor code” longer than a white belt would be expected to “know better” when they behave in a manner that conflicts with it. But when it comes to behavior and personal traits like honor, does anybody think that coming to a dojo a few times a week to move your limbs around confers some sort of moral authority that is superior to any other physical activity? I know..I know.. the “yes except in the martial arts we teach people how to injure others and with that comes responsibility…” explanation will invariably arise. Except for the fact that there are many activities like boxing, shooting, wrestling..etc. that do the same thing. They just dont have the benefit of exotic origins, nifty uniforms and philosophic associations.

It’s my .02 that the idea a belt means that someone is “superior” in anything except physical skill within the art is all mystical “mumbo jumbo”. Yeah you can “kick my ass”, but you are in no way proven to be more honorable, courageous, dutiful, or more of a “warrior” than I am. That sort of “ranking” comes from a lifetime of influences and many many more sources than the martial arts…from upbringing, to the influences of teachers, friends, employment and other “life experiences”. I think that the “mystical awe” some people seem to ascribe to high rank comes from watching too many movies. I can list a veritable “rouges gallery” of high ranking martial artists who have been involved in nefarious criminal activity.

I have a longstanding criticism of people who walk around living fantasies of “warriorship” based solely on martial arts training. The types who like to spice up an otherwise “ordinary” existence by believing themselves “warriors” because they drive down to the dojo for a few hours every week. There are many more authentic “warriors” out there who have ZERO martial arts experience. Unless you are out in the world putting your ass on the line for “something” you are a warrior in thought rather than deed. In my environment I look at people who spend a fortune in weapons, weapon schools, tactical gear and training in much the same way. You may be able to purchase all the stuff and train in all the skills of an SAS trooper on your own time. But to say “Im as good as..therefore I am equal to” is a warning that this is about ones Ego..nothing else.

Whew…enough of my opinionated rambling…dont let that lead you to believe that I find ANYTHING objectionable with this post though. When it comes to the issue of “belt responsibilities” as they SHOULD apply I think you are dead on. The belt should represent a standard to live up to for YOU. An..”as a black belt I expect myself to live up to a standard”….vs a “Im a black belt and THEY are not” mindset. It’s about what you expect from YOURSELF, not what you expect from others.

Originally posted as a comment by tgace on Urban Samurai using Disqus.

Go check it out.

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L’Affaire Gates – Jack Dunphy – The Corner on National Review Online

An analysis of the Gates fiasco written better than I could manage.,

L’Affaire Gates – Jack Dunphy – The Corner on National Review Online

A man of ordinary sensibilities, having forced his way into his own home in broad daylight, might consider the possibility that he was seen doing so by someone who would misinterpret his actions and summon the police. Mr. Gates apparently failed to foresee such a contingency and instead assumed dark motives on the part of Sgt. Crowley. In fact, if Crowley’s account is accurate, it was Gates who profiled him, imputing racial animus as the reason for the sergeant’s presence on the front porch. When Crowley made the reasonable and tactically sound request for Gates to step out onto the porch, Gates, by his own account, refused to do so. “I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association,” Gates told a reporter from The Root. “All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, ‘No, I will not.’” Thus the stage was set for a test of wills, one that ultimately saw Gates arrested and carted off to the jug for a few hours.

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the “skip” gates fiasco

As a Police Officer it’s always safer to just keep ones mouth shut when it comes to matters of politics, race and public controversy; but in regards to this “mad professor” situation I am going to air some personal opinion. Keep in mind please that this is just one man’s opinion. It is not to be construed as an “official position” and in no way reflects the opinion of my dept.

The way I read this situation, it can be broken down into three areas. The officers actions, the professors actions and the presidents/media actions. My analysis:

The Cop: According to Sgt. Crowley’s report, he responded solo to a call of a burglary in progress with TWO possible suspects. While on the porch of the residence, the Sgt. sees a man inside, tells him that he is investigating a possible break-in and asks him to exit so he could talk to him and if there is anybody else in the house with him. This is a common and wise practice. You never want to go into a structure against a possible threat..especially alone. Calling the man out also means that if he is an innocent resident being held against his will, you may have the opportunity to remove him from danger. Instead of doing as he is asked, the professor starts out by being confrontational. He immediately injects race into the situation by claiming the only reason the cop is there is because he is a “black man in America”. Not something you want to do to a police officer that just told you the reason why he was there, investigating a possible break-in at your home. AKA-doing his job to protect YOUR PROPERTY. Eventually the professor comes to the door and continues to be disagreeable, at first refusing to provide the officer with ID. Once the officer has identified the man as the homeowner, the rest of the story is the continued, racially charged ranting that flows out onto the porch of the house, a public place in view of a gathering crowd. From the sound of things there was a lot of “you don’t know who I am”…”you are going to regret this”…comments about the officers mother..etc being yelled and screamed. After giving the man two warnings that he was being disorderly, the officer had enough and arrests the man for disorderly conduct.

The Professor: Without rehashing what I just wrote, and attempting to remain as impartial as a cop who has faced similar situations can be; the professor claims that the officer was rude, confrontational and refused to provide his name and badge number. He also claims that the officer arrested him after intentionally luring him out onto the porch of his home because the officer was irritated over his exercising his right to complain.

The President: A friend of the professor… states at a press conference “I do not have all the facts” and “the police acted stupidly” in the same breath. We all know where things went from there.

Because I don’t want to say anything here that could reflect badly on me or my department when seen through the lenses of people who like to find fault with any police activity I am going to cut this short. Let me sum up:

In my opinion many things could have been done, if not “better” perhaps differently. First and foremost, could the professor have acted differently? Could he have looked at the situation as a police officer responding to ascertain the security of his home and his own personal well being? Versus immediately looking at the officers race and jumping to an unjustified conclusion? Absolutely.

Did the officer “have to arrest” the professor? Could the Sgt.have used some discretion and just left? Sure he “could have”. Did he “have to walk away”? Was the arrest unlawful? I would have to say no.

We officers have to make many decisions and 0ftentimes make them under stress and time constraints. While I may often think “man I could have done that better” the real bar I set for myself  is “was what I did legal and within policy”? Ultimately, probable cause trumps officer discretion. I don’t think it’s fair to judge Sgt. Crowley on discretionary matters, what he should be judged on is the legality of his actions, and from what I see he had PC to support his charge. The dropping of charges in cases like this often has less to do with the propriety of the arrest as it does with political expediency.

And last but not least. While the president is free to say what he wants, I would hope that the leader of the free world would wait for all the details before making inflammatory remarks.

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Heckler & Koch’s HK416 Assault Rifle

I really like the HK416. When I was down in Quantico for the FBINA I got to tour the FBI HRT facilities…what great toys THEY have (nice to have money be no object), and I saw one or two of these bad boys floating around. IMO it’s a sin that the military isn’t picking up the operating rod system. I wish I had the Benjamin’s to afford one.

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carry off-duty

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I just read a great post over at Front Sight, Press about the reality of active shooter situations and what has stopped them in the past. The author says that what stops them is Instant Response:

Rapid Deployment training is great training. It should be mandatory for all officers and should be refreshed at least annually. But, Rapid Deployment must be considered a follow-on technique to supplement the Instant Response of on-scene personnel or first arriving officers. Any other technique will delay contact with the killer and allow them more time to snuff out innocent lives. Even at the World Trade Center, a large percentage of those rescued and evacuated before the collapse where directed by civilians who stepped up and filled a vacuum of leadership. The 9/11 report dubbed these heroes “First – First Responders.”

…I recommend one iron clad rule all sworn officers should obey. Carry a weapon off-duty. For those of you who feel your only off-duty obligation is to be a trained observer: I disagree. And, more importantly, the reality of this spiraling increase of mass murderers also proves otherwise. Remember examples such as the security guard in Colorado and the construction workers at the World Trade Center, who were last seen headed up the stairs to direct the evacuation of one more floor. Step up and remember your oath to protect and serve.

I agree. Dont be a Sheep. When the wolf shows up its do or die.

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SWAT rocks for sale!!

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One of my brother in blue bloggers over at Spartan Cops talks about gear, tools and the “chicks dig it factor” in one of his recent posts called Ever buy a SWAT Rock? An excerpt goes:

“What’s a SWAT rock?” the handler replied.

“One of these.” He said as he grabbed a small stone off the ground and threw it at a car deep in the parking lot. The sound the rock made hitting the car caught the attention of the searching dog and made him investigate that area and eventually find the suspect.

The instructor continued. “A SWAT rock is the same thing except you paint it black, put it in a bag labeled SWAT, and sell it to guys like me for $14.95. Paint it black and I’ll buy just about anything.”

Many of us in this line of work, or subject of interest, have fallen into this mode of thought. I think that to some extent we all still do, it’s just as you get older and “wiser” you start to recognize that you just want something because its “cool” and don’t bother trying to justify it in any other way.

As long as the “SWAT rock” works and you don’t mind paying 3X its actual value for it then who am I to judge?

If you neglect your training because all your time and cash go into “SWAT Rocks” instead of lessons and ammo..well then you are a fool.

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