In the wake of the Florida school shooting and the plethora of commentary from non-sworn pundits and other so-called “experts” (who have never served in the heat of battle – be it on the “mean streets” as a sworn officer or in combat as a member of the military) about the lack of an effective law enforcement response, I’m pressed to interject some truth here. This truth-based perspective comes through more than three decades as a sworn officer and trainer who, along with the vast majority of my police brethren, has made running to the sound of gunfire a way of life. It is – quite frankly – SOP (standard operating procedure) for the vast majority of us. It’s simply what we do (and train to do) on a daily basis!
With the understanding that we still have a lot to learn about the training (or lack of it), policies and policing philosophy (yes, it matters — a lot) of the involved personnel and their agency(s), one major question may stand out above the rest: Were the officers in question indoctrinated into a servant-warrior ethos or the ridiculous and disastrous “guardian” mindset?
In December of 2016, I wrote an article for Law Officer on that very subject (“Embracing Our Warrior Ethos in an Age of Guardians”) – please take the time to read it. Moreover, understand that I’m both a cop and police chaplain-minister who comes at this issue from a biblical worldview. No, “separation of church and state” does not apply as it is found nowhere in our Constitution and, regardless, Law Officer is private publication.
With this foundation in place, and while the leftist media and politicians are unlikely to admit it, we who serve know that our calling is unlike any other. The fact is that the vast majority of us would have done everything in our power to have been able to stop the carnage at Douglas High School; Las Vegas; the Orlando nightclub; Virginia Tech; Sandy Hook; Sutherland Springs; Dallas; Lakewood; the abortion clinic in Colorado Springs, Los Angeles, the theaters in Aurora, Platte Canyon High School, Columbine (my home state of Colorado is no stranger to these kind of incidents); the 9/11 attacks; the Murrah Federal Building and far too many others. Praise God, law enforcement intervention lessoned the body count at many of these, and there have also been countless other potential massacres that were prevented because we did in fact run to the sound of gunfire (explosions, crashes, etc.) — often at the price of our own lives.
Let me also simply state, for the record, the real issue here is not guns (or planes, bombs, knives, etc.) but rather the unchecked allowance for evil, disobedience to God’s standards and lawlessness in general. And it is us – the peace officer – who still stands on the thin blue line between good (order, peace) and evil (chaos, anarchy, the “wolf”).
While the leftists and non-police “experts” will again lose their proverbial minds over this, the powerful essay written by my dear friend and fellow trainer, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, rings true now more than ever (On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs). The gist? The wolves (evil, criminal element) will prey on the defenseless with impunity save for the warrior – the sheepdog. For too long, those of us who have answered the call to servant-warriorhood have been increasingly “leashed” (handcuffed) and even vilified while the wolf has been allowed to roam free to (literally) rape, pillage and prey on the defenseless.
Are there other things we can do better? Absolutely! For starters, stop trying to turn warriors into guardians or expecting guardians to transform into warriors when “all hell” breaks loose (an issue that I strongly suspect may have played a role in the police response to the Florida high school shooting). Put a stop to the “War on Cops” (God help us). Allow and encourage us to actively train for active shooters (and all that goes with it) and employ sound intelligence and analytics. Stop playing games in “the land of DENIAL” and start implementing (for example), Col. Grossman’s Five D’s in our schools!
More? Start being your kids’ parents again and not their “buddies.” Stop decriminalizing criminal activity (the legalization of marijuana, for example, has been an unmitigated disaster from a law enforcement perspective) and letting dangerous criminals out of jail to once again prey on the innocent and defenseless. Tighten our borders (“duh”). Get back into the preventative mental health business. Allow God back in our schools! Rest assured, if we don’t, what we saw in Florida will continue to occur with alarming alacrity.
Finally, again, understand that the vast majority of us who answer the call (it is indeed a calling) to “serve and protect” have no problem running to the sound of gunfire. It’s not only what we do, it’s what we live to do. For the sake of all we once held dear, embrace our God-ordained calling and support us for doing so.
Michael “MC” Williams is an active police officer, state criminal investigator, chaplain/minister and police instructor with more than three decades on “the job.” As a contributor to Law Officer’s Chaplain’s Corner, he provides a biblical, front sight focus on the daily issues we face in law enforcement. MC is a sought-after speaker who serves as the Director of the Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry and is a past National Board Vice President of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers – USA. MC can be reached at email@example.com.