Killers wearing Body Armor – New Trend?

The thought had crossed my mind listening to the news over the past 48 hours – both the perpetrator of the Binghamton, New York, massacre and the Pittsburgh Police Officer slayings were wearing body armor.

Our good friend and Academy Instructor, Rick Neal, pointed out the similarities to me this morning that started my thinking that this violent modus operandi needs to be carefully studied. Rick is in a position to know about these types of situations having recently retired as a S.W.A.T. Commander in Florida and having responded to more than three hundred “call outs”.

Another person who is well qualified to comment on these type of mass killings is Dr. Park Dietz, a criminologist and forensic psychiatrist at UCLA who was a consultant on the Columbine killings in 1999. Dr. Dietz made a disturbing observation, but one that many of us in the security profession have known for a long time; people in the respective communities were aware of both killer’s propensity to have carried out something of this magnitude.

According to Dr. Dietz; “many people knew of the shooters’ anger, unreasonableness, the fact that they had made previous threats and were armed. In fact, they’ve known for a long time, but none of them did what they should have done with that information”.

We wonder how many similar killers are lurking out there amongst us and how many of us know they they are there, but are not doing “the right thing”. If you know, tell somebody before any more innocent lives are lost.

Police Officers are hard working public servants who are more than glad to come to our assistance when we call them – regardless of the dangers involved. We only have to look at the brave actions of Officer Kelly in Pittsburgh to know that. This brave officer was off-duty at home when he heard the shots in the neighborhood and ran out to help. Let’s work with them and give them a fair fighting chance so they don’t have to go into a situation blind.

Sometimes danger lurks right under our nose.

When Executive Protecion Specialists think and speak about “Threat Assessment”, they are usually focusing on a known or suspected danger that may prove life-threatening. Sometimes, that danger may already have made itself at home and is silently destroying lives and eating away at victims like a cancerous growth.

One such story was highlighted by the “Washington Post Magazine” on May 25th, 2008. It involved a young girl who had been molested and raped by her own father. A man who was something of a hero to many. A man who had walked side by side with Dr. martin Luther king and who was only a few feet away from the Civil Rights leader when he was assasinated. That man is James Bevel.

I had the pleasure of listening to Col. Dave Grossman speaking at UCLA last April. He was eloquent in his description of how young lives are taken and families estroyed by School killings. He also spoke about those who prey on the less suspecting. He equated it to the Wolves hunting down and eating sheep. Mr. Bevel appears to be one of those parasitic wolves.

For years he raped his little daughter, telling her it was something of an “experiment”. In his mind, he didn’t think that it mattered. His unfathomable belief (and apparently remains the same until this day) is that all women are prostitutes until they reach a certain age, when sex is set aside for procreation. This beleif allowed him to allegedly rape his eight year old daughter on many occassions.

His daughter, Aaralyn Mills, finally found the courage to step foward and contact the Police in 2005. She assisted the Leesburg authorities to tape record her conversation with her father. In that conversation, James Bevel admitted raoping his daughter and that it was part of a scientific process. Unfortunately, her mother, like many other mothers, did not want or couldn’t face the truth. This gave the big, bad wolf all the space he needed to desecrate the little sheep.

Sadly, men like this are living throughout our communities. they come in all shapes, sizes nd colors. Some are Doctors, Community leaders, Priests, Police Officers, Electricians and Preachers. If you have been entrusted with the job of protecting an innocent lamb, be a strong and fearful sheepdog and protect your flock, with your very life if need be. Be brave like Aaralyn Mills. She stepped forward at this time in her life because her father who has many children with many different women has now a young daughter and her half-siter is afraid that he will rape her too.

Teen bomb maker stopped in his tracks in South Carolina.

The parents of Ryan Schallenberger undoubtedly saved a lot of lives when they turned in their son as a potential bomber. Authorities said he had all the components he needed to make several deadly bombs.

Ryan Schallenberger had used E-Bay to order 20lbs of ammonium nitrate from a supplier in Kentucky. The teen has been described as being “mad at the whole world”. In a search of the family home, Law Enforcement officers discovered hate filled writings in which he praised the Columbine killers.

Having just returned from a Threat Assessment workshop at UCLA put on by Gavin De Becker Associates, I was able to identify many of the same characteristics that we looked at when examining other teenage killers who have wreaked havoc in schools across the U.S. Teens like this tend to have a “chip on their shoulder” and feel like they need to cause grave damage in order to “get even” or “teach people a lesson”. Unfortunately, the “copy cat” phenomenon is a common denominator and these troubled teens seem to look up to those who have killed previously.

We all have a part to play in keeping schools safe. More parents need to emulate the Schallenbergers, who were willing to turn their own son in, knowing that he will most likely be locked away for a very long time thereby ensuring the safety of others. Class mates who hear rumors need to alert guidance counsellors and teachers and not be so quick to dismiss their fears and concerns. We need to get rid of any feelings that might suggest:”this could never happen at our school”.

It is a sad fact that this terrible trend looks set to continue and violent behavior is capable of happening in any school where adequate security precautions are not taken. Whether it is from television, video games, broken homes or any other contributing factor, our youth are being exposed to higher and more toxic levels of violence every day. Perhaps we can do a better job at home and help to nip this evil trend in the bud before our classrooms begin to resemble battlefields.

Parents who say "No" to guns, but also "No" to metal detectors?

If there ever was a case of “having your cake and eating it”, this must surely be it.

Daniel De Vise, a reporter for the Washington Post wrote an article that recently caught my attention. The title read: “Suburban Schools Reject Metal Detectors”. The word “Why” kept ringing in my ears as I read the story. Apparently, many parents feel that metal detectors in schools make the schools seem like camps or prisons. Surprisingly, consensus is building against the machines even at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, where last week, three loaded guns were found in a locker.

As if this was not bad enough, the article claims that many school officials view metal detectors as costly, impractical and fallible. Costly? Compared to what? If a metal detector saves even one life (and from what we have been witnessing at school shootings, single shootings are the exception while multiple killings are the “norm”), has that machine not paid for itself for the rest of time?

Another complaint amongst teachers appear to be the fact that the detectors will slow down access and leave children a few minutes late for class. I have not conducted a poll amongst parents but I am 100% sure I know what the result would be if I polled parents on which was most important: their child being five minutes late for class because they had to walk through a metal detector to keep them safe or getting to class in time but possibly becoming the victim of a deranged classroom killer who was able to bring a weapon into school because there was nothing to stop him.

I recently returned from a Threat Assessment workshop at UCLA hosted by Gavin De Becker and Associates. We studied school killings in greater detail. The one thing that was repeated throughout the course was the fact that many people are in denial. They want to believe that it couldn’t happen to them or at their school. The sad fact is, it can happen anywhere that does not have adequate security. We live in more violent times and there does not seem to be any sign of things getting better any time soon. Sticking our heads in the sand and hoping the “Bogeyman” goes away is not the answer. We have got to act responsibly and demand that schools take every measure they can to keep our children safe.