Paratus et duro [ Prepare and Endure ]

How it pays off…

By Michael VanSteenkiste of Jericho Defense


The other weekend was one of those weekends that we all prepare for but never think it will happen to us. It was one of those events that many people don’t know what they will do if it actually happens; will I freeze or will I react.


On Friday when I was driving back in my driveway from work I was greeted by my neighbors who looked somewhat frantic. I had spoken with them a few times and they knew who I was and what I did. They also apparently thought enough of me to come to me for help should they need it. I got out of my truck and walked over to them as they told me about a man they had never seen before at a house next to mine trying to steal the AC unit. He had clipped the wires and then asked if the house was being foreclosed on. I’m still not sure what happened but he ran off in his little blue car.


I continued to speak with the neighbors and told them to call the police and file a report. As a former cop I can attest to the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know. At least if a report was filed the police would be aware of the incident and possibly be on the look out for like activity in the same area or start to show a pattern of lick incidents. Shortly after the police officer arrived another neighbor came out and I filled him in. We were all in agreement that we would look out for this guy and this car.


Later that night my wife came home from work and I told her about what happened. I gave her all the details that I knew and we went over a plan should the guy come back. We discussed who would do what and where and how. It may not have been a perfect plan but it was a baseline and we could deviate from it if we had to. Like they say, a plan is only good until boots hit the ground. We left the window open a crack that night so my German Shepherd could hear if anyone was next door. She would more than likely wake us up. We went to bed with the usual Glock 19/taclight combo complete with awesome paint job (yes, the paint job makes it shoot better) and Remington Tactical 870 (again with paint job) on and by the night stand. We will get into why I do this later.


The next morning we woke up and decided to go shopping at a town that coincidentally was also home to Bass Pro. For some reason we were taking our time. It had been a long week and we felt like riding the line just on this side of lazy. I was in the shower when I heard my dog start to bark. This usually happens when the UPS man shows up but her bark was a little different this time. Still, I figured that my wife would check things out and let me at least rinse the soap off. About 30 seconds later my wife came in and sounded half excited and half nervous. I had never really heard her like that before. “I think that guy is back!” Naturally I asked her the five W’s and she rattled off everything.


I promptly got out of the shower, threw on some PT shorts, and walked over to the window. As I looked out I saw a man who matched the description perfectly from the day prior. I looked over in the neighbors driveway and saw a vehicle that matched too. This guy really came back! And both my truck and wife’s car were in the driveway. This guy is ballsy. And this is where I started thinking tactical and not practical. I didn’t know if they guy was going to run but if he did I did not want to chase him with a 12 ga. I also didn’t want to grab an AR because when the police showed up I didn’t feel like answering a lot of questions. Glock 19 with taclight and sweet paint job it was. I told my wife to grab her phone and call the police just like we had rehearsed. I looked over and she was already dialing. I grabbed my dog and moved to the side door that faced the criminal. My wife’s car was between him and me so I knew I had some cover until I determined that he wasn’t armed or as armed as he could be. Notice I’m still in shorts and nothing else. At this point I did what was probably the best move I could have made. I took a tactical pause. I knew my heart was racing, I was getting tunnel vision, and I needed to make sure I was in check before I threw myself into a situation that I couldn’t handle. I took a deep breath, told myself “SCAN, BREATHE, SCAN, BREATHE. GIVE CLEAR AND CONCISE ORDERS.” I grabbed the door handle, turned it, and walked out behind my dog.


My dog did just what she was supposed to. She charged the guy as I pointed my gun at him and scared him as only a pissed off German Shepherd can. I had her stop just short of him as I ordered him to get on the ground. As he did I moved SLOWLY around the car, watching his hands as he went to one knee. I again explained to him to get on the ground in a stern command voice. He eventually got there. My dog began to circle him and keep him where he needed to be. Just in case I told him that she would bite if he moved. He kept his movement to a minimum. He begged and pleaded to for me to let him go giving me sob story after sob story. He wanted to sit against the wall but I told him no. If he were to get up his car was running and all he would have had to do is beat me there and he would have been gone.


About 10 minutes later the police showed up. Yes, I was standing there for ten minuted covering down on this turd waiting for the police. When they showed up the first officer made sure that I did not sweep him when he went to cuff the suspect. I wasn’t insulted as he didn’t know me or what level of t raining I had. I responded affirmatively and he cuffed the guy.


They found meth in the car along with burglary tools and other stuff Mr. Bad Guy wasn’t supposed to have. He had been arrested 14 times in the last 18 months and also had prior felonies to include assault with a deadly weapon.


So what did we learn here?


1) Know your neighbors. Make sure they know that you are a sheep dog. Develop trust in your community and it will pay dividends.


2) Rehearsals. You can never rehearse enough. Go over events like this with your family. There is a saying in the military, “Never go anywhere or do anything for the first time”. If you rehearse your response, even if it doesn’t go according to plan, at least you have something to go off from. If the plan changes, SO WHAT! Fight the fight, not the plan.


3) Weapon choice. I chose a specific weapon for a specific purpose. Shotgun was too heavy and I know I would not have been able to cover down for 10 minutes or chase with it. AR was actually still locked up in the safe. Pistol with attached taclight looked menacing enough to do the job in combination with the dog. Plus it ended up being light enough (although it got very heavy after 10 minutes).


4) The tactical pause. We do it in combat. There is no reason why you shouldn’t to it either. Don’t rush to failure. Take your time. Make sure you have everything you need, physically and mentally. I really needed to slow things down. My wife said I looked calm but I didn’t feel it. I needed to take that 2-3 seconds of time and gather my thoughts. Look for cover and concealment and know the difference.


5) If you only have shorts on then you are wrong. Should that guy have wanted to fight I would have had a gun flopping around and no holster to put it in . If I had to chase him I didn’t have shoes on. If I had to re-holster for any reason I would have been screwed. I have now started to look into shoulder rigs for stuff just like this.


6) Physical Fitness. Being an Infantry Officer in the Army I’m in, what I like to think, pretty good shape. I lift a lot of weight, run a lot, road march a LOT. You are probably thinking, “where is he going with this?” Well, I live in an urban area. You would think it wouldn’t take very long for the police to get here. Well, I stood there, covering down on this fool for over 10 minutes. I’m here to tell you that little Glock 19 felt like it weighed 50 pounds by the time the police showed up. Had I not been in decent shape I wouldn’t have been able to push through and cover down until the police arrived. Also, if I did have to chase the guy I felt that I would have been able to catch him, if I had shoes on. Which leads into my next point.


7) Restraint. While they come in many forms and you can pretty much use anything there are only two types I will ever use. Handcuffs and flex cuffs. Now, as I say this I will caveat this by also mentioning that you NEED TO BE TRAINED IN THEIR USE. If you aren’t trained you can seriously hurt someone including nerve damage, tissue damage, and all sorts of other stuff you can and will get sued for. But the bottom line here is I own multiple sets of handcuffs and flex cuffs. I couldn’t remember for the life of me where I had put them. Had I been able to place restrains on the guy things would have instantly become a lot safer for him and me. Me because I wouldn’t have to worry about him taking off or trying to hurt me. Him because I wouldn’t be able to misconstrue any of his actions as hostile, forcing me to escalate force.