SFC HEADQUARTERS DOCTRINE
"Read by Thousands Round' the World!"
29 January 2010: Father versus Son Stakeout: Part Six
Two looked scared. Pale. Nervous. One started bobbing a bit like he was in a Saudi prayer house.
The third one, the roof guy just stared at me.
“Who’s out there driving?” I asked them. I knew there had to be a getaway vehicle.
The head bobber gave me a name. The roof guy shook his head.
“What kind of vehicle.”
“What kind of truck?
“Like an orange...tan.”
“80s I think.”
In about 10 minutes, with great relief, I heard Darren and his son emerge from Darren’s office. Darren flipped on all the plant’s lights. They walked into our room. Their clothes looked messed up. Darren’s comb-over wasn’t combed over anymore. I saw some red, rashy skin on their arms and faces, but didn’t see any blood or bruises. A regular LEO might have to report a family violence incident! Good thing I was an “irregular.”
“You all could be in jail tonight!” Darren told them.
I stepped back and waved my gun barrel up for the three to all stand up.
Darren started a tirade of coherent and incoherent ass-chewing for all four. I hit a button on a copy machine by a desk and it charged up.
“Drivers licenses,” I told them, interrupting the tirade. “Let’s go. Get em’ out.”
The three pulled out their wallets and handed me their licenses. I put them on the copy machine screen. The thing groaned, gurgled and whined into operation. I waited. When the buttons lit up I hit “copy.” The light bar rolled up and down the screen and made a copy of the three DLs. The photos looked decent and I handed them back.
“Out.” I said. One reached down for a flashlight and I told him no. The roof guy wanted his tool bag and I said no.
“If you ain’t arresting me. I have a right to my bag.”
“Riiiiight, You go on and push that issue.” The little shit! He can forget about his burglary tools.
“Statute of limitations is 5 years for burglary, boys,” I told them. “ Mr. Hall here has a five year noose hanging over your head. If we hear about any problems you cause, he will exercise that privilege."
“Yer’ damned straight!” Darren said.
We marched the four out of the office and to the front door. Darren made like he was going to turn off the alarm...
“Already off,” I told him.
“Damn!” Darren cursed. “Our code! I will change the alarm code tomorrow!” he said to his son.”And to be damn sure, you won’t know what it is.” He unlocked the front doors and the three walked out. I watched them walk off across the lot and into the night. My guess was they’d hook up with their driver in the tan pick up along the way. He had to be trolling the road.
Darren was - as they say - beside himself. His talked non-stop but I was interested in something else.
“Lets lock this up and go out the roof door and look around.”
Darren locked the front door and we walked across the plant and up the stairs to the back offices. In the far corner there was a short stairway with a door to the roof. He unlocked the door and we stepped out into the night air.
I saw a removed roof vent and took a look at it. Some screws removed. A section cut probably by the snips I saw in the bag and the top pried back. Darren looked over my shoulder.
“The roof door was alarmed, but not that.”
“They hardly ever are.” I said. For years rooftop burglars entered into the roof, vents and suspended ceilings of buildings. Once a while we’d get lucky and some clod would get stuck or cut up real bad. Some of those stories made the newspapers back then and years later would be on funny videos show. “You can alarm your office door and the accountant’s office. Maybe alarm the door at the top of the stairs.” You can’t cover every inch of this roof and all the walls.” I told him flashing my light on the grounds.
“How’d he get up here?
“I don’t know. Maybe a ladder set up in the bed of their pick up? A rope with knots tied in it that he tossed off the roof when he got up here? If you stand on the cab top of a truck you can get a head start.”
We went back downstairs and Darren was depressed, disheveled and worn out. Ready to go home. I told him I would stay. Just to be safe.
“Aw hell. I’ll stay too then.” He limped into his office and I watched him lay down on his cot with a grunt and a sigh. A guy with a dead wife, an empty home and criminal son he can never trust. And a bad comb over. Don’t forget that.
Terry came in the morning and took us back to our cars in town. He was eager to hear the details. Darren was eager to talk about it over and over again.
A few days later I got paid a couple of thousand bucks. But I wasn’t through with this yet. One afternoon, I took my copy of the three driver’s licenses and circled the roof guy’s license with a red pen. I wrote “roof top burglar” in red and mailed the sheet to an old friend at the Sheriff’s Office criminal investigation division. I handwrote a quick note that I had “learned” these guys were burglars and the circled dude was a roof man. He HAD to have done this before and will do it again. I’d worked with this detective before and I trusted he would keep an eye and ear out for all the roof jobs in the county.
Oh, a couple of wrap-up points for you legal rookies out there scratching your heads. Did I make some kind of illegal arrest? First, there's always a citizen's arrest. But no. I was a licensed private investigator for the state of Texas and my license included running a security company. Catching burglaries is part of that occupation and I worked for the whim of my employer, the complainant, who could cancel his complaint at any time. Which he did that night. And I did not say, “Police! Freeze!” as I was not the police. I could have said “Security! Freeze!” - which, you know - doesn’t have the same wang to it. I just let that flashed badge do all the talking for me. Oh yeah, and the big gun.
25 January, 2010: Father versus Son Stakeout: Part Five
Terry drove us out to the factory again and he happily split for the nearby hotel. HBO. Pizza. And I hope - no beer. Especially not tonight. We entered through the rear and I reviewed the master plan as Darren keyed in the alarm code. We wanted the alarm on and everything normal.
“Don’t move until you hear from me. I think tonight’s the obvious night. It’ll be late.”
Darren nodded and made for his office, cooler in hand. I walked to the accountant’s office, flicked on the light and took another look at the blue steel safe up against the wall. It was about half the size of a refrigerator. Reckon' how these sons of bitches planned on getting in and out with that safe, without triggering the alarm? Ram a wall? Cut through a metal wall? They were, after all, construction workers and might have some ideas how to de-construct a building.
The sun set outside and I walked the insides. The tedious series would begin again. Break room coffee. Sitting in about half a dozen places. Walking...
About midnight Darren passed out and I turned his small TV set off. Ground Hog Day.
By about 2 am, I was seated in a chair under the upstairs offices, back by the garage doors, when I heard a dragging sound, like metal on metal. I sat up from surprise. Then nothing. Then I heard more dragging high on the metal wall and to my left. This was new! I got up and walked nearby.
I was near the stairs when I heard more noises, like right up on the roof, but above the offices up stairs. I pulled out my .45 and climbed the stairs as quietly as I could. I was just about laying flat on the stairs at the doorstep and could distinguish the sounds and location.
“The roof,” I thought. “these sons of bitches are coming through the roof.”
There was a lot of prying and some ripping sounds. Pretty loud. Not loud enough I thought to wake up Darren way across the plant, but he was awake! When I looked back, he stood there in his doorway, looking at me. Intuition? Then he jogged my way, a flashlight in his hand.
I pointed to the ceiling inside the offices and made a face of disgust, which he matched on his own. His own little father/son nightmare was about to commence.
Next came a thud, which I guessed was two burglar feet hitting the floor. Then another thud and clang. Gear? I waved Darren back to his office and I slowly crawled back down the stairs and back to a dark spot near my chair at the loading bay. I had a full view of the stairs.
Some time past. Not long. Minutes. Then I saw a lone figure come creeping down the stairs. He had a flashlight and sack like a tool bag slung over his shoulder. He stopped at one point and took a good look around. Then he left the stairs for the back of the plant.
Was he heading my way? I readied my flashlight and gun. He got about half way and turned to the back wall. He stood by the door and put his light beam on the alarm pad. He pounded out a series of numbers and got a chime. The alarm was turned off. These stupid little shits. Didn’t they know the alarm company kept track of such turn-ons and turn-offs for a commercial alarm? The company would have a record of the offense time...well, if there was an official, offense tonight.
He unlocked and opened the door and three other guys came tip-toeing in, heads bobbing around. One high-fived the roof man. They talked in hush, but excited sounding tones.
One said, "let’s go,” and this guy led the others across the plant to the front. I got up, side-stepped over to the door and turned the lock in the handle, then I followed them from the side of the plant, one machine row over and slightly behind. They all marched into the accountant’s office. I saw flashlight beams bounce all over the place. I could hear them talking about the safe.
The time was getting ripe. I waited about one minute, took a deep breath, took out my wallet with my private investigator’s badge in it. I got by door, threw on the office light switch and aimed my gun at them. I thrust out my open wallet and badge.
“You are all under arrest!” I shouted. “Drop your lights. Put your hands up!”
They froze. You could have heard a pin drop, if there was a pin.
”I said put your hands up!”
I heard flashlights drop. They put their hands up.
“I will shoot dead the first son of a bitch that moves.” I added.
“Oh, shit,” one groaned.
“Oh shit is right!” came a voice over my shoulder. Darren stood there.
The groaner was the son. Darren marched past me and snatched up a handful of his son’s shirt and hauled him right out of the room. They went into Darren's office and the door slammed.
“This was his idea,” one said.
“I got an idea too,” I said. “The three of you sit down on your ass right by that wall. Indian-style.” I motioned to the wall with my pistol. “You may or may not be going to jail. It all depends on how it goes in that other room right now and how you act right here.” I thought this notion might make them behave.
“Sit down. Shut up. Put your hands behind your head.”
They did. Hands behind head. Legs and ankles crossed. We heard shouting. We heard some bashing. If the son beats up the dad and comes back? It'll be messy. Messy all over me.
“What’s your names,” I asked, stepping away from the doorway.
Two answered quick. The third didn’t. When he did there was a tone I just didn’t like. The punk voice.
“You the one who came though the roof?” I guessed.
He reluctantly nodded. I nodded back.
Bash. Crash. Cuss. Father. Son.
"And then that must be your little bag of tricks right there." I motioned to the canvass bag on the floor, he once carried down the stairs
He didn't answer. He knew not to. Little too convicting. He looked away.
I picked it up and laid it on a desk, shuffled some stuff around inside. Common tools, but in combination with the situation, they were what we call in the business "burglary tools." Not just lock picks, but any tools...
..."suitable for breaking into an occupied structure, a vehicle, or any depository designed for the safekeeping of property or any part of the occupied structure, vehicle, or depository with the purpose to commit an offense."
Mere possession of burglary tools is a crime, providing you can attach them to before, during or after burglary. This is a classic case of "during." I halfway sat on the desk and rested the .45 on my thigh. It was still aimed at them - all lined up on the floor and wall like three monkey-see, monkey-do statutes.
Bash. Crash. Cuss. Father. Son. We all heard it. Damn! What if they kill each other in there? I didn't sign on to this deal to be a stand-by bodyguard for a grown-adult spanking. And I'm out here holding a bag of full of monkeys?
Part 6 coming soon...
20 January, 2010: Father versus Son Stakeout: Part Four
How will they get in? How many will come in? If they are after the safe, they all may have to come in to haul it out. Breaking into a safe “on premise” is no easy task. Better to haul an unattached one off and work on it elsewhere. A bunch of knuckleheads like these will try to hammer and peel this one apart.
I sat for awhile in an office over looking the street front and parking lot. Quiet street. Once in a blue moon a car passed by. Real people doing real things! Life! And I was stuck in yet another building. How many years have I been doing this boring shit? In the early 1970s I worked for security companies while going to college for a police science degree. They sent me around Dallas to fill gaps in their schedule. The first, locked-in-all-night post I had was in 1973 in the dead winter on a giant factory complex in Dallas. The plant had multiple buildings and giant parking lots surrounding them. They gave me a skeleton key and told me to walk into each building and find a special clock-like device, stick the key into it and turn it. This “punch” was like a time clock and registered the fact that a guard had walked the place. Good God it was cold. The wind chill tore through my “plastic/polyester” uniform. And spooky as hell for a kid like me. And my young, foolish imagination! Sitting there in the Widget factory, I thought of another “contract” the company had - on a bank being audited by the Feds in Dallas. It had to be guarded 24 -7. My boss back then, an ex-Secret Service agent, told me,
“we don’t care what you do. Watch TV. Sleep. Read. We just need someone locked inside the bank all night.” (I must say - what job is better than being paid to sleep!)
That was 1973. How many military and police guard duties, surveillances and stake-outs followed in the next four decades? Thousands. That's a lot of lost life time. As a detective in the 80s, when we investigators would initiate such projects on our own, we would often not be paid! The rule in place was that if we arrested somebody or actually accomplished something as a result of the project, we would be eligible for overtime or comp time. Our CID captain would make the decision. But if the leads ran dry? Nothing. Nada.
Labor laws in the 1990s changed that. Then we were trapped in the budget and many of our projects were turned down! So, in order to do our jobs properly, we all still worked without pay or even telling any supervisors the details. How many, many unpaid hours we in our squad racked up? People like David Scott, Howard Kelly, Roger White, Benny Parkey, Dan McCormick and many more of us worked untold hours on cases totally unpaid and uncompensated. And in fairness, we were also paid well for established, recognized and approved cases and wire taps, and so forth. But a true-blue investigator needs to be cut free from work schedules, and yes - family schedules to work the streets and make cases. This is who we are. This is what we do. I simply do not know how detectives work in these modern, strict times of paranoid budget, bean-counters and labor law...
...another car drove by the factory and snapped me out of this "lost life" daydream. I took another turn (walk). Darren had fallen asleep on his cot. The television droned on with an infomercial. I turned it off.
WHAT WAS THAT?! A crash in the back! I approached the back like a poster boy on a cop recruiting ad. Eyes scanned. Nothing. Places like this creak and even crash in the wind. The temperate changes, the heater or air conditioner rattles. Expand. Contract. Things that go a bumpty-bump in the night.
I took a creep through the back upstairs offices and workrooms. Nothing. I opened all the inside windows that overlooked the “floor” - the plant below. I sat up there for awhile, chin upon my forearms on the window sill. This was a good perch of the factory, but not perfect. I could see many of the back garage doors or back doors under me from up there. Roving was best. Roving, roving, roving, keep those doggies rovin’. Time flies when you’re having so much dang fun...rovin’.
Fight the sleep. Walk around. A trip to the loo with all the doors open. Break room coffee. A brief talk with Darren at about 3 am. We watched the news at 5 am. I called Terry and he picked us up at 7 am.
Ground Hog Day planned for Saturday. Repeat. Since this gang had worked construction early Friday morning, good chance Friday night was probably not the night anyway, but we still had to be there to play it safe. Tomorrow night! Saturday night! They didn’t work on that Saturday. That was the night to stay all kinda’ chambered up for uninvited guests...
Part 5 coming soon...
16 January 2010: Father versus Son Stakeout: Part Three
“Its gonna’ happen this weekend,” Darren told me on the phone.
“That’s what my son-in-law told me. The boys work all this week but they are off Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be Friday night or Saturday night.”
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
“Well, we need to get out there early enough on Friday.”
“You want to pick me up or should I pick you up?”
“Well, we can’t have one or both of our vehicles there..."
“We’ll met, park our trucks at the Ramada Inn. I’ve got a guy who’ll take us, and our gear, out there and leave us. Flashlights. Remember flashlights and food.”
“Cots. I got the cots.”
The idea of him sleeping through some of this was a good one as far as I was concerned. I had no super-solid plan if these jerks showed up. I thought I would essentially arrest/detain all of them. And turn the dad loose on the son for a heart-to-heart talk in another room. When the talk was over, kick them all loose with a grim warning.
Sounds simple enough on paper or a daydream, but if just one bucks up on me there’s a glitch in the giddyyup. One maybe becomes two. Two becomes... If control is lost and who knows what all might happen. I’ll have to badge em’ with my P.I. badge, talk tough, official, and swing a big gun around to scare hell out of them. One or all may have their own guns, so its all about the strategic ambush and control tactics. Plus, these guys may have a getaway car and driver, cruising outside. Or, they might just park right outside? Burglars can be dumb and crazy and lvery ucky.
We made plans for a Friday, early evening, meeting. Terry would take us out there. Terry - I got a guy I use for odd jobs named “Terry.” He was an ex-phone company employee and worked for an alarm company and knows his way around alarms, wiring, walls, phones, ceilings and so forth. He was really handy for some gigs years back when I was hired to bug some buildings - which are other stories I’ll never tell. But, I discovered he was a contract worker for cable TV and alarm companies and had a lot of free time. Especially during odd hours when I found myself usually working and doing odd things.
I called Terry and he was good to go. I put him on the “Widget” payroll and booked him into a hotel on the highway closest to the factory. This way if we needed something or him fast, he would be handy. I also gave Terry a list of bad guy vehicles and the apartment they all lived in, in case I needed Terry to run and check on their whereabouts in the am hours.
This is something we use to do in stakeouts of all kinds. Essentially we would “put them to bed.” If all the suspects were home and it was about 4:30am or 5am? Lights out? Very good chance they were in for the night. Not always true, but a very good gamble. Some serial rapists I worked would be real night owls and home invade at 5am or 6am. Some used an early morning jog as an excuse to be out prowling, window peeping and identifying future victims. But “putting them to bed,” was a good strategy. A good stakeout has a roamer, or a roamer team that knows when to stay away and knows when to come a’ running. I could tell you a couple a hundred stakeout stories, but some other time. Terry was not to roam but to stay put unless I called him.
On Friday afternoon I loaded up a kit bag, some grub, and my old “war” pistol belt and I met Darren and Terry at the Ramada. We tossed our stuff into the Terry’s work van and off we went to our appointment with minor destiny.
Terry dropped us off around back of the factory, said goodbye and he drove off to eat pizzas and watch cable TV in the hotel. No beer - I hope. I wished I was him in this deal. Darren unlocked a back door and in we walked. As we carried our gear and cots to Darren’s office, I got a better look at the place. Long aisles bordered by machinery on one half, the other scattered tables and conveyor belts and cleaning vats. I had been there before but a study of the exact layout was not on my mission list. Tall stuff and short stuff. One quarter of the factory has a second story of work space for the small, plastic widget assembly. I put my cot and camping chair by the back doors and the bay garage doors. It was chilly in there already.
The sun set and our lights stayed off. Darren had a very small portable TV he positioned on the floor of his office and surrounded by towels. It was dark enough for him to watch the Mavericks basketball game. I put on a pot of coffee in the break room, which also had vending machines. Did I have change for the machines? Of course. I am a professional.
With the first cup of black jo’ for the night in my hand, I took my seat in the back. Twas the night before burglary and all through the "house," not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Well, there were rats...
Part 4 coming soon.
12 January 2010: Father versus Son Stakeout: Part Two
“Darren, you can’t hire me to beat people up,” I told him.
“And you can’t be beating people up.”
“But, if we were there, you and me, and...and we caught them...”
“We’d beat them up? They’d get arrested for burglary. You’d get arrested for Family Violence, and I’d got to jail for aggravated assault. NOT a well-thought-out plan. Unless we dress up like Batman and Robin.”
“I know. What if I just said I hired you for security and I said I didn’t know who the burglars were. ”
“We’d have to massage that story so far, nobody would believe it. It ain't right.”
“But, I can hire you for security!”
“Yessir, you can.”
“And we could catch em’ all, stop em’ all once they step foot inside my place.”
“Yes we can.”
He shook his head and took a draw on his cigar. “But we can’t whoop their ass if we catch em’.”
"Nossir we can’t. Unless they try to whip our ass, then we can whip their ass back...up to a point.”
“Yeah, well, you know better about all this shit than I do.”
“That I do.”
We sat quietly for a moment.
“If we catch em’? I don’t want them arrested," he said like a confession, well...like a father. "Thats why I called you. I don’t want the POlice involved. I want to catch em’ all. Scare em’ all, like they have been caught good.”
“You are the owner. The complainant. Charging people would be your perogative.” I advised.
I’d like to give him a chance, I don’t know, another chance. Like the stupid little sumabitch needs another chance.”
“How old is your son?” I asked. “Where’s he live. What’s he doing?”
“Ronnie is 26 damn years old. He works - when he works - some kind of construction job. When ever they get work. No college. No skills. All those shitbirds he works with are in the same sorry lot. He lives with all his friends in an apartment.”
“Is your factory alarmed?’
“Windows and doors.
“Any inside motion detectors?”
“Nope. Too many damn rats and critters moving around in there. Then, the heaters come on and blows the material around, and the next thing the POlice is waking me up at 4 am with an alarm call”
I nodded.” I suggest you seal off your office...from the...rats..and get at least that room with the safe all wired up. Lots of businesses do that and we have caught burglars deep inside them. Silent alarm. But, maybe later after we do this deal.”
“We? You in on this?”
“I am,” I groaned. I had painted myself in the picture.
“What do you charge for something like this?”
I’ll charge $250 for every night I have to stay out there. And expenses. Plus, I want to nose around a bit to set this up. Just $50 an hour. Do you think your son-in-law will talk to me? Will he tip Ronnie off? When we get at $2,500 I’ll tell you and let you decide if you want to keep going on this.”
“I think I can trust my son-in-law. And if you are staying out there? I’m staying out there too. We'll use cots from my deer lease.”
“We migth sleep some, but we'll have to try to stay awake. Okay. Don’t tell anybody about any of this. Not even your wife.”
“Chrissy has passed. Four years ago.”
“Ronnie and his friends? They carry any guns?” I asked quickly, trying to get past THAT awkward moment. My social skills are surely lacking in these areas of funerals, weddings, children. My social ettiquette solution tends toward absentism or blank stares.
“They hunt. That’s all I know.”
“Okay, then. Lets catch us some human rats.”
Part 3 coming soon....
10 January 2010: Father versus Son Stakeout: Part One
I have been on many a stakeout, in many a place. Some cozy and warm and some wet and frigid. But this one job was certainly the oddest and put me, not in an awkward physical position but an awkward situation.
In all the years I was a detective I got to know many, many people and they sometimes remembered me well after the fact.
Case in point, one Darren Hall, owner and CEO of his own mid-sized, manufacturing plant that whips together -for the purpose of this essay - "widgets." Through the years he'd been swindled by a feisty old book keeper in his office and had a shipment of widgets stolen through an inside job. I worked on these cases and made arrests in both. It should come as little surprise that years later, when he had another criminal problem, a very odd and delicate one, he would contact me. But, at the time of this contact I was a private investigator, emphasis on private. He called my old P.D. and asked for me. A patrolman told him I'd left and gave him my contact information. He knew I was not a a police detective, still he asked me to meet him a hotel restaurant the next afternoon to explain his problem and I assumed, try to hire me.
When I walked into the Ramada, I spotted him seated at table by a row of tables, smoking a cigar and staring into space, his pensive mug hovered over a coffee mug. All hunched over like that, he looked like some kind of moody painting from some kind of period, from which I'd long forgotten the name of. The waitress saw me and I waved her off. I did not plan on being there long. We said our hellos with a handshake.
“Hock, I have some information that my factory is going to be burglarized” he told me.
I had some cases for lawyers I was working on, plus my growing seminar schedule and I did not want to be distracted by some kind of burglary, so I had a real quick solution.
“Darren, that sounds like you need to tell the police. I can get you in touch with my old detective sergeant. I am a P.I. now and they should be able to help you. They...”
“I don’t...I can’t get their help. NO police help”
“It's my son. He is going to burglarize me.”
With a sudden, pensive grimace on my mug, I waved for the waitress and ordered a mug of coffee. I was now painted inside this period piece.
“My son Ronnie. My daughter’s husband knows Ronnie and Ronnie’s friends. He told her to tell me that Ronnie is going to break into my damn factory. Steal my safe and some machines. Some metal. He's worked there for me though the summers and he knows where everything, worth anything, is.”
“And...what exactly do you want me to do?”
“I want you to catch them.”
“Catch them? Me? Not the police?”
“Not the police.”
“And what do you want me to do with them after I catch them?”
“Kick their ass.”
Part 2 Coming soon ...
5 January 2010: To See Or Not To See? Tunnel Vision is the Question
“During the gunfight, did you see your partner beside you?” the psychologist asks.
The officer, having looked dead on the bad guy holding a shotgun, must admit,
“NO! Aha! Another case study of adrenaline destroying vision,” declared the researcher. And another checkmark goes on the ogre, adrenaline score sheet. Reports are issued. Books written. Police, military and “reality based martial artists read these and before you know it - an “adrenaline wonk” industry develops.
Isn't there much more to investigate about all these shooting incidents, or any similar incident before we rush to judgment to indict adrenaline for all ills and errors in a fight? I mean, what if the officer was looking at a doorway with his flashlight? Would he always see his partner anyway? Or would he be targeting his concentration on the door? No adrenaline involved. Just looking at a door. What if the officer was a cool, calculating veteran in peek performance, concentrating on an armed bad guy, would he always see his partner too? Would he even remember seeing his partner in such times, if he did?
When the officer is home watching the football game, does he always see the flower pot beside the big screen? If not, is he suffering from an adrenaline dump? Adrenaline tunnel vision? Or just targeting his focus and concentrating his attention on the screen, or more - the smaller running back waiting for a hand-off?
Followers of this blog have known for years that I like to probe way deeper in to the 1980s and 1990s shallow interpretations of “adrenaline and fighting,” and ever question what I call these “adrenaline wonks,” – those people dedicated to blame any and all performance problems on the evil, crippling, ogre of adrenaline. Their entire sales programs are based on this concept. And entire academies and institutes reflect their shallow observations. Let's add the 2000s to this decades timetable also because so many trainers and instructors like to regurgitate the 80s and 90s in their lesson plans.
So, the subject today is tunnel vision from adrenaline. In medical terms, tunnel vision is the loss of peripheral vision with the retention of central vision, resulting in a constricted circular, tunnel-like field of vision. Brace yourself for “optometrists talk - the normal human visual field extends to approximately 60 degrees nasally (toward the nose, or inward) in each eye, to 100 degrees temporally (away from the nose, or outwards), and approximately 60 degrees above and 75 below the “horizontal meridian” or line of your horizon of sight. This is actually important “sight-speak” at the drivers license bureau. But discussions on vision are just as important to shooting, combatives and survival.
When your pupils dilate and you get these cases of mandatory tunnel vision, which is something that usually happens during an adrenaline burst, an average conclusion by the average thinker is that a charge of adrenaline reduced your peripheral vision. Your big, wide pupils helped you focus on what lies ahead. The question remains do all rushes reduce all vision in all people? All the time? Next, more importantly, does all vision reduction come from an adrenaline rush? If you missed seeing something, was it all form an adrenaline burst and dump? Just how shallow an overview do all researchers and instructors give this subject?
Dr Lisa Sanders is a renown, medical diagnostician and consultant on the famous TV show “House.” In her recent book Every Patient Tells a Story, she adds to this tunnel vision debate. By now we are all familiar with the popular “attention test” where experts challenge people to watch a film of basketball players and count how many times the team in the white shorts passing the ball. Your attention is completely on Team White and the ball. She reports:
“My task, once the video started, was to watch the white team and keep track of how many times the ball was passed between players-keeping separate counts of when it was passed overhead and when it was bounced from person to person. The image started to move and I kept my eyes glued to the white team's basketball as it was passed silently among the moving mass of black and white bodies. I got up to six overhead passes and one bounce pass and I lost track . Determined not to give up, I kept going until the thirty-second video was complete.
Eleven overhead passes and two bounce passes? I ventured. I told Chun that I got a little confused in the middle. Despite that , I'd done a good job , he told me. I missed only one overhead pass. Then he asked, "Did you see anything unusual in the video?" No, I saw nothing at all out of the ordinary .
"Did you see a gorilla in the video?"
A gorilla? No, I had definitely not seen a gorilla.
''I'm going to show you the video again, and this time, no counting, just look at the game." He restarted the video. The white and black teams sprang back into action. Eighteen seconds into the game - around the time I los t my concentration - I saw someone (a woman, I find out later) in a gorilla suit enter the hallway court on the right. She strolled casually to the middl e of the frame, beat her chest like a cartoon gorilla from a children's TV show, then calmly exited out of the left side of the picture. Her on-camera business lasted eight seconds and I hadn't seen her at all .
If you had asked me if I thought that I could miss a gorilla - or even a woman in a gorilla suit - strolling through the picture, I would have agreed that it was impossible to overlook such an extraordinary event. And yet I did. So did more than half of those who were given the same task by Daniel J. Simons in his lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. How is that possible?
We have tremendous faith in our ability to see what is in front of our eyes. And yet the world provides us with millions of examples that this is not the case. How often have you been unsuccessful in looking for an object and recruited the help of someone who finds it immediately right in front of you? Or had the embarrassing encounter with a friend who confronts you angrily after you "ignored" his wave the night before while scanning for an open seat in a crowded movie theater? According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are over six million car accidents every year. In many of these crashes, drivers claim that they had looked where they were going and simply hadn' t seen the object with which they collided - evidence that people are regularly capable of not seeing what's in front of their eyes, what Sherlock Holmes might have called seeing without noticing.
Researchers call this phenomenon "inattention blindness" because we often fail to notice an object or event simply because we are preoccupied with an attentionally demanding task. Our surprise when experiencing this very common event derives from a fundamental misunderstanding of how the brain works . We think of our eyes like movie cameras, capturing all that is before us as we choose what to focus on at the moment. We might not be paying attention to everything, but we assume, first, that we will be able to recognize any important event that occurs and, second, that, if necessary, we can always rewind the movie and play it back in the theater of the mind. What we missed the first go - round would be noticed when we remembered the event.”
Dr. Sanders was not in an adrenalized state, just trying to count ball passes when she viewed the video. She also probably didn't see the proverbial flower pot beside the TV, no more than our off-duty police officer watching his favorite running back on his big screen TV. The brain must see and care to remember.
So if an officer cannot recall exactly where his partner stood at the time of a shooting? Or any time, all the time, be it a shooting situation or not, an adrenaline rush may or may not have given him a case of tunnel vision that inhibits perfect sight and perfect memory. He might have just been looking right at the bad gun chambering the shotgun. The officer probably won't see the flower pot, the partner, or even the gorilla in the room.
1 January 2010: It was 14 years ago today... "HandStickKnifeGun"
I started teaching in the late 1980s, but the last 14 years I've been teaching this brand of hand, stick, knife, gun (and PAC/Filipino for those who ask). This year I plan on really pushing the blend to a higher level. How are these hand, stick, knife and gun tactics alike? How are they different? I will first highlight the many cross-over tactics and skills, then work on the nuisances that make certain things different and flush those out to the max. This marks a new, unified, progressive look at modern combatives that I really don't think anyone else has ever done to this extent, intent and level ...essentially trying to make four disciplines into one combatives discipline.
In other most simplistic terms? It is no longer just a front snap, groin kick, its an unarmed kick, and a "while-holding" kick, as in while holding a stick, a kick with a knife, a kick while holding a pistol and while holding a long gun. In a way, its a Remy Presas "make the connection" concept.
You know that I have been doing this sort of thing for 14 years now, but now I really want to push the envelope on this. It maximizes training skills and training time. It brings every single one of the disciplines up by imprinting them with the best of each other. "Bridging the Gap" (remember that motto? Over 14 years old now).
Bridging the Gap between the military, police, martial artists and the aware citizenry, bridging the gap between standing, sitting/kneeling and ground. Bridging the gap between hand, stick, knife, gun.
I will still maintain and teach the separate courses as requested. But my main goal (and really my true personal interest) is really pushing generic, practical/tactical, hand, stick, knife, gun so far that it becomes "handstickknifegun."