September 11, 2014. As I began to contemplate what I wanted to write in my training column for the September addition, I had several topics that came to mind. I arrived at my office here at TriCorps around 4:30 after teaching an Active Shooter class all day with the Highway Patrol Troopers and started to write about the stresses we all encounter on the job. I changed my mind. I need to talk about the significance of the date, not just because thirteen years ago thousands of people lost their lives in the deadliest terrorist attack in American history, but also because I spent the day with twenty law enforcement officers training to respond to bad things and we all talked about the 9/11 event many times throughout the day. It was heavy on our minds.
I was on the road heading to the gun range to help teach the 52nd academy firearms training when the attack started. I was listening to the talk radio out of Tulsa when they started reporting that a plane had struck the North Tower at the World Trade Center in New York. Like everyone, I’m thinking, “What in the world? How could that have happened?” Then, 18 minutes later a second plane struck the South tower. And everything changed. America was under attack.
I arrived at the gun range and we all gathered around the patrol cars and listened to the news. The range is in the path of the airport and Tinker Air Force base so we are accustomed to planes flying over every three or four minutes. That was a very strange feeling when suddenly there wasn’t a plane in the sky. Everything was on lockdown and everyone was on high alert.
It is amazing how dangerous things have become from the time I was a young boy growing up in Tulsa. I don’t ever remember closing the garage door at night, locking doors to the house, putting our bicycles up and I certainly don’t recall ever thinking anything bad would happen. And nothing really ever did. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a police officer for thirty years, but I’m not sure I have gone to bed for the last 15 years without checking on my boys and making sure every door is locked fifteen times a night. And I am confident we ALL do those types of things.
So as I reflected on the 9/11 events and the dangerous times we live in, I began to also think about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the Murrah Federal Building attack, the Edmond Post Office killings and several other terrible events that have happened since I became a police officer and how it has changed our training and our mindset. Today was the 100th two-day active shooter training class I have taught. To say that training current day first responders has changed dramatically is an understatement.
But here is what I realized. When bad events happen, we train and prepare ourselves so that we are able to defend against whatever evil comes our way. Training, preparation, awareness and mindset are the foundation of the job we do as Law Enforcement and Security Professionals. It makes little difference if we are working in the public or private sector when we are employed to secure and protect God’s people. Please don’t ever take lightly the incredible and important responsibility we have taken on with this career. It is critical that we train so that we remain prepared to protect and serve.
Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters. Remember that we are the ones running in when others are running out. No one ever said this is not a dangerous job. Isaiah 6:8 “And the Lord said, whom shall I send?” And I said, “I am here, Lord. Send me!” The biblical call of the warrior! I am by no means saying we are better than others because God called us to this line of work. I am saying that the “calling” is just the beginning. Train and prepare!