Monday, June 2, 2014

Dragon Slayer

The other day at the Violence Dynamics Semester Course we were discussing asocial violence and predators.

Because, if you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a pop culture guy, I quoted a recent episode of “Fargo the Series”

Here is the set up:
Billy Bob Thorton plays Lorne Malvo, a predator.  A professional criminal / hit man.  What makes this character cool is he is an agent of chaos.  Sure he does plenty of criminal activity himself.  But he likes to get people to do things that they might not normally do, and then  watch their worlds burn around them.

Colin Hanks plays Deputy Gus Grimly, a rural Minnesota law enforcement officer.  Grimly is low man on the totem pole at his department, even working part time as animal control when/if the regular animal guy calls in sick.

Grimly (a single father) is working overnight and talking with his daughter over a walkie-talkie when a car runs a stop sign and goes flying by him.  Grimly pulls the car (driven by Malvo) over.

Grimly asks Malvo for his driver’s license and proof of insurance.  You can hear his daughter’s voice over the walkie-talkie from his squad car.
Malvo responds, we could go down that road, or you could walk back to your squad car and pretend you never saw me.
Grimly asks why should I do that?   Malvo looks back at the squad car from which Grimly’s daughter’s voice can still be heard and says…

Because some roads you shouldn’t go down.
Because maps used to say – There’d be Dragons here.
Now they don’t.
But that don’t mean the Dragons aren’t there.

Grimly let him go with a warning.

A couple days after the class Lise asked me – Hey, you started as a rural Minnesota law enforcement officer.  What would you have done if you pulled someone over and they laid that dragon line on you?

I hope I would have said something cool like – Hey that is cute, ever hear of a fella named St. George? 
There is a reason maps don’t read – There’d be Dragons here anymore.
Step out of the vehicle please.

Lise replied, yeah you are not animal control.
No, no I am not.  But all professionals started somewhere.

There are still dragons out there, don’t be fooled (the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist).
There will always be dragons.  There will always be a need for Dragon Slayers.
Everyone starts somewhere and Dragon Slayers will always be needed.
So, how does one go from “somewhere” to Dragon Slayer?
  • Competence
  • Tools
  • Experience
  • Attitude / Mental baring
  • Teamwork

When I first starting writing this confidence was the first quality I listed.  However, the more I thought about it, I felt a need to change it.

Confidence in and of itself is worthless.  Especially now when an entire generation has been constantly told that they are special and everything they do is wonderful.  False confidence can be fatal.

Confidence earned through merit is a different matter entirely. 
Competence - the ability to do something successfully – breeds useful confidence.

Do you have the skills necessary to take the Dragon down? (Do you have fangs?)
What skills are needed?  I have used this analogy several time during the course of this blog but I still feel the best way to summarize the skills necessary is to examine a sample use of force continuum.
1.      Presence
Physical Fitness
2.      Verbal commands
Communication Skills
3.      Contact Controls
Touching or Seizing the offender
Escort Compliance
Standing Controls
Pain Compliance
Joint Locks
4.      Compliance Techniques
“Soft Hands”
Take Downs
5.      Disabling Techniques
“Hard Hands”
Impact Techniques
Striking / Kicking
6.      Potentially Lethal Force
Weapons Techniques
Impact weapons
Edged Weapons
Improvised weapons

Professionals have to have skill sets at all levels of force.
Even if you are not a professional user of force, that does not mean you will not have to face a Dragon.  You will need those skill sets too.

Competence is ingrained over time.  It is developed by a daily investment in yourself.  Competence is the result of a particular lifestyle not just a hobby or even a profession.

Do you work those skills on a regular basis?
Are you 1% better today than you were yesterday?
What have you done today to be a better hunter?

"Saving people, hunting things. The family business."
—Dean Winchester

C’mon you didn’t think I would have a blog about hunting monsters without a "Supernatural" reference did ya?

Do you carry the tools necessary to hunt?
If you are a law enforcement officer or hold a carry permit, do you carry a firearm with you?
Is it uncomfortable?  Is it inconvenient?
If something happened that you could have stopped had you been prepared could you live with yourself?

An excerpt from “Gun owner’s last prayer”
... Let NOT my last thought be, if I only had a gun,…

An amature sees a potential threat and wonders could I take him.  A professional sees a potential threat and devises the best way to take him.  Having the tools necessary gives you more options

Not just weapons.
Phone  - call first responders.  Take photos, film video
Clothes – can you run / fight in what you are wearing

One of my favorite episodes of Justice League Unlimited is titled "The Once and Future Thing- part 1"
Reader's Digest version:
Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman end up in the wild west of America in the 1880's
As soon as they arrive they are jumped by outlaws.  After they kick the outlaws asses they take their horses.

They also take their clothes to be less conspicuous

Wonder Woman complains that the boots hurt.
Batman replies,"Dianna you routinely fight crime in high heels"
She counters, "High heels that fit"

My point is, and I tell this to my daughters - I am clearly not a women's fashion expert, but if you can't fight in it don't wear it.  If you can, cool beans.  Wonder Woman can pull off fighting in high heels, me not so much.

 "Look at her shoes, if a fashion magazine told her to she'd wear cats strapped to her feet." - Giles

C’mon you didn’t think I would have a blog about hunting monsters without a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" reference did ya?

Other Gear / Tools
If you get cut / shot can you patch your self up until more / better help can arrive?

  • Israeli bandage
  • Tourniquet

Have you been trained in basic buddy care / self care?

Do you carry enough cash to get things in an emergency like:

  • A cab
  • A hotel room
  • Food / water
  • 1st aid supplies

Batman is clearly bad ass.  But much less so without the tools of his trade.

You probably can't pull off wearing a utility belt in public.

However, consider putting together an inconspicuous "go bag" with all the things you need to slay Dragons, and keep it with you.


My first DUI (catching one not being caught if you were wondering) was a lot like that seen from Fargo that started this blog.

It was my first job.  I was young and inexperienced.  I was all by myself working in a city in rural northern Minnesota.

Call came in over the radio.  Be on the look out for this make and model car possible DK driver.  I was getting a sandwich for dinner at the gas station.  The only restaurant open in town during the winter.  Sure enough a car fitting that description went right pass.  I threw my sandwich in the passenger seat and followed to observe driving behavior.

Wouldn't you know he crosses the fog line then crosses the center line back and fourth like that.  I turn on the lights and sirens and call it in.

I get out of the squad and start my approach as I had been taught.  He rolls down the window and leans out (spidey sense tingles) "What the fuck you want?"

I pulled you over because you were swerving between lanes is everything OK?

"I swerved to miss that deer didn't you see it?"

His breath reeks of booze

No sir I didn't, have you had anything to drink tonight?


Would mind stepping out of the car and taking some sobriety tests

"Fuck you I ain't taking any tests"

Shit just got real - adrenalin hits me.  I am going to arrest this guy.  Looks like I'm going to have to fight this guy.

"If I'm wrong the tests will prove it and you can go on your way" 

"Fuck you I ain't taking any tests"

Then I don't have much choice your are under arrest get out of the car.

No response

I open the door and attempt to guide him out

He locks onto the wheel real tight.

I yank him out of the car put him into the snow on the ground and cuff him.  My heart is beating a mile a minute.  My first really real hands on with a bad guy.  Shit now what?

I am kind of smart enough to get him in the car, notify dispatch, and start towards the law enforcement center.

Luckily for me a County Deputy lived in town, was working that night and listening to his radio.  He offered to meet me at the LEC to run the intoxilizer.

Did you read him his rights?
Did you read the implied consent?

OK this is what you need to do.

At a time when my brain wasn't working so well, that Deputy made sure everything was square by the time we got through testing and booking so everything was legit.

There was a moment between the intoxilizer and moving him to booking that the suspect tried to get behind me.  I moved so he couldn't and escorted him to the Sally Port.

Later, the Deputy said he noticed what I did there, and that I would be just fine.  I had passed his test I guess, because from then on he kind of took me under his wing and taught me a lot about copping that I never learned graduating with honors from Mankato State.

Next time I had a DUI I wasn't nearly as adrenalized and I handled my own business.  

Moral of the story?  If you are going to hunt Dragons learn the craft from a Dragon Slayer.  If someone is willing to mentor you, be your "Rabbi" take full advantage of their time and experience.

[Also understand if you do this the Universe will require you to pay it forward and Mentor some other dumb ass kid down the road]

The second moral of the story is every time you hunt Dragons and live it gets easier to hunt Dragons.  You retain cognitive function longer.  You get good at it.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

The difference between me and the character from Fargo is I understood I had a duty to act.  

On the show people died because he let Malvo go.

Even though pulling that guy over was scary at the time, had I not pulled him over, people could have died.
If I pulled him over and then let him go because dealing with him was difficult / uncomfortable, people could have died

That was something I was not going to let happen.
That was something I could not have lived with.

Which leads us to...

Attitude / Mental baring

In a later episode the Deputy Gus Grimly character admits that he never wanted to be a Cop.  He tried to be a mailman but the Post Office wasn't hiring.

That is fine.  Postal workers help people.  They get to know the community.  They have a good government job with decent benefits.

Law Enforcement Officers are not - can not be Mail Carriers that happen to wear armor and weapons.
Sadly there are plenty of Officers like Grimly that should be Mail Carriers.

Every few years I help teach a an active shooter class.  Part of that class is a frank discussion on what is required of responding Officers to effectively end an active shooter scenario.

The world learned hard lessons from Besaln Russia

One of those lessons being the longer armed response waits the more time the enemy has to harden the target and do horrible things to the people inside.

That means the first shooters on scene have to get in there and well, start shooting.

That is scary.  You may die.  But all the time the shooter is shooting at you he is not shooting kids.  You give more time for more shooters to get there and do their jobs.  So on and so fourth until the attacker (attackers) is no longer a threat.

Statistically in the U.S. when the assailant meets force the confrontation ends quickly.  Many times with the assailant taking their own lives.

When you look into the abyss the abyss looks back.  These guys didn't want a gun fight.  They just wanted a high body count.  If they wanted a gun fight they would go to a Police Station or a gun range.  When folks start shooting back it is a different ball game.

At this class we ask the Officers to take a hard look at themselves.
Are you willing to run towards the sound of gun shots and if necessary die to save innocent lives?
I overheard one Officer say under his breath no way would I go in there, it's dangerous

Clearly that guy is not a Dragon Slayer
Clearly he is a mailman with a gun

If that is how you feel, that is fine.  That is smart.  But stop being a cop.  Go get hired by the postal service
Not everyone can be St. George

Professionals have a duty to be
In many versions of St. George's legend he saves an innocent young girl from the Dragon.

I have a house full of innocent young girls.

I expect the Officers that would respond to my daughters' school to go in and slay that mother fucker before it can lay a finger on my girls.  If I expect that, I can give no less to the people I am responsible to protect.

I wonder if that mailman with a gun could live with himself if gods forbid innocent children were killed (or worse) because he would not act.

Everyone dies...

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and
demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life,
beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a
friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all
people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy
of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only
in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones
to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are
filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

 - Chief Tecumseh 

For further discussion on living your life (getting your shit together) that the fear of death can never enter your heart, please check out this previous blog:

Risk of death from another perspective - Blog

Don't read any of the above as advocation of throwing your life away stupidly.
One of the best ways to slay a Dragon is bring friends.  Lots of friends.  Lots of friends with guns.

Team Work

As cool as the above picture is, unless you have a mutant healing factor and unbreakable bones, that picture is the results of shitty tactics.

You may not have a choice.  If you are dealing with a Dragon because they were hunting you, you most likely will have to slay them on your own.

However, if you have the option  / resources use team work.

Calling for back up is not a pussy move.  It is smart.  So is stalling until back up arrives and the odds swing to your favor.

Even in the aforementioned active shooter situation you usually go in teams of at least two if not four.

Batman doesn't have a mutant healing factor and unbreakable bones.  But he is pretty smart...

Let's review - how do you become a Dragon Slayer:
  • Competence
Understand the skill sets you will require and work those skills every day.
  • Tools
Carry the equipment you will need with you.  Always better to have it and not need it than the other way around.
  • Experience
It gets easier.  Create a habit of doing what needs to be done (see building competience) especially if it is difficult, scarry, or you just don't feel like doing it.
  • Attitude / Mental baring
If you are a mailman be the best mailman you can be.  Don't do a job that requires you to slay Dragons.
Maps used to say – There’d be Dragons here.
Now they don’t.
But that don’t mean the Dragons aren’t there.

Anyone reading this may have to deal with a Dragon.  As bad and scary as they are they are still just 7 liters of blood in a skin sack.  Their spinal cords are only protected by thing rings of fairly fragil bone.  You don't fight a Dragon, you slay a Dragon.

I mean have you seen Billy Bob Thorton?  The only reason he is scarry is he is willing to and enjoys using violence.

The only way to stop evil violent men, is for good men (and women) to be more skilled (and willing to use) violence
  • Teamwork
Be smart use the resources and personell available to you.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe