A Lightbulb Moment

The Well-Trained Mentality Everyone Should Have

There’s no question about a cop helping you. The problem is the response time of getting there.

I remember the moment clear as day. I was a young patrol officer working midnights, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. The overlapping shift worked from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., so from 2 to 6 a.m., it was just our shift covering the roughly 160 square miles of our district. It was February, so it was cold. Due to illness, approved leave, in-service schedules and whatever other uncontrollable reasons, we only had five officers covering the district, including the sergeant.

A late-night arrest (early morning, actually) lowered the number of responding officers to three to cover the whole district. During such shorthanded times, it was common practice for officers to meet in the middle of the district and wait for calls to go out so we could back each other up the best we could. Smaller petty offenses, such as minor thefts, disorderly conduct, etc., were often overlooked to keep officers in service so they could back up fellow officers for more serious offenses in progress.

Although not a common occurrence, it happened enough that we knew how to handle these trying times. It was during one of these times the proverbial lightbulb went off. Having two or three officers responding to calls from the middle of the district could take several minutes to get on scene. I knew if our district was shorthanded at times, others had to be, too, especially in the area where I lived. I thought about my wife, who was home alone while I was working.

A lot can happen in the minutes it takes for officers to respond. I’d seen it happen several times. While patrolling, you have a lot of time to think, ponder and solve the world’s problems. I thought about my wife being home alone and how she should have the right to defend herself. Obviously, the best way for her to do so would be with a gun and proper training.

Fresh out of the academy, I mimicked what I was taught about gun handling, safety, sight alignment, trigger press, and shooting. I taught her how to reload. We’d go over scenarios if she heard someone breaking in.

The Plan

After hearing the noise of a break-in, I told her to retrieve the gun and squat down on the far side of our bed, using the mattress as cover so she could call 911 from the phone which was on that side. She could rest her hands on the bed for support and wait with the phone receiver on the bed. If anyone entered the room, she would challenge them. Their response would determine any further actions.

Tank’s daughter shooting an AR-15 pistol.

Deep Cogitation

I’d never really thought of scenarios like this until I was a cop. There was never really a need. Or better stated, I just wasn’t aware until I witnessed evil does exist. It was the typical transformation of the cop mentality or a well-trained mentality everyone should have. Being a fresh college graduate, I had never thought of such things before. Hence, the “lightbulb” epiphany moment. I’d have several other moments like this after witnessing other events on the street and tuck them away for future reference.

This shows how vital experience really is. I can’t tell you how many times I’d handle a call and critique myself afterwards, so in the future I could handle the same type of call in a safer manner by giving myself every possible advantage

Tank’s daughter learned about gun safety and shooting
from wanting to hunt with “daddy.”

Daddy’s Girl

Teaching my daughter to shoot came along quicker than I expected. I’d always secure my duty gun after every shift. It wasn’t my duty gun that piqued her interest, but she’d see me hunt groundhogs when she was old enough to understand. This led to her asking me if she could go with me the next time, to her saying she wanted to try it. I told her she’d have to practice safe gun handling and shooting and explained why we shot the alfalfa-stealing rodents. After a few weeks, Samantha was ready. She got her groundhog. Next came deer season and going through hunter safety.

Over the years, Samantha has taken several deer and shot everything from 9mm and .45 ACP semi-autos to revolvers of every caliber, muzzleloaders, bolt-action rifles and AR-15s. She is an extremely good shot and knows how to handle guns safely. When she went away to veterinarian school and moved into her own apartment, I got her a gun for all the above reasons.

Every cop I know would do everything in their power to protect someone from harm. It’s why they signed up! But the problem of staffing issues, response times and being in the right place at the right time can sometimes make it impossible, so it’s imperative to do everything in your power to give yourself a fighting chance.

Over the years, Samantha has shot just about every kind of gun there is.

Get Trained! Go Armed

My advice — enroll in a fighting school like Gunsite Academy. Don’t be intimidated by the name. They have everything from beginner to advanced classes, using a graduate system of advancement for more challenging courses. You’ll gain confidence with the new skills you learn and new thought patterns on keeping your hide in one piece while protecting yourself and your family. Your safety is your responsibility. Give yourself a fighting chance to do it!

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