Robert had been a Police Officer for over 18 years with a background on SWAT and the past 10 assigned as a full-time instructor. His instructor specializations are in Firearms, Active Shooter Response, Counter Ambush, and Tactical Medicine. He has been recognized internationally as an expert in Active Shooter Events and Law Enforcement Training. He serves as the lead Tactical Medical instructor for a federal counter narcotics training agency. He routinely provides consulting on medical response for tactical trauma events. Robert also has spent over 27 years in the United States Air Force. 20 of those years were in Security Forces with the majority of his time working in ground combat instructor assignments. In 2016, he became a Special Warfare Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC). He currently has 6 combat deployments and is still assigned to the MS Air National Gaurd. Robert is the President of Brave Defender Community Services, a registered non-profit, whose mission is conduct Active Shooter Research, Prevention, Preparation, and Education. He also owns a training company providing Firearms and tactics training to military and law enforcement. Robert has been published numerous times and routinely speaks at international conferences speaking on Law Enforcement training, Active Shooter Events, and Tactical Medicine.
I think the best course I've ever taken would depend on the particular subject matter, but I really enjoyed a shooting course through Haley Strategic and an instructor development course to learn about adult learning for science. I also had an opportunity to go through a tactical class with the FBI's HRT team which was phenomenal. Transcript: "So the question was asked, what's the best course I've ever taken? It's kind of hard to answer. I think it kind of depends on the particular subject matter area. I'm a big fan of taking courses where I can learn the science of whatever it is. So, you know, when it comes to like a shooting course, probably I took a course through Haley strategic several years ago. It's probably one of the best shooting courses that I've been through when it comes to instructor development courses, getting into the science of adult learning for science is probably one of the best courses that I've been through. When it comes to just general law enforcement or military tactical knowledge and CQB tactics, got an opportunity to go through a class with the FBI's HRT team."
We need to stop sensationalizing the perpetrators of violence and instead focus on the heroes, rescuers, responders, and victims. This shift in focus will help counteract the contagion effect by taking away the attention and recognition that violent individuals seek. Transcript: "So trying to counteract the contagion effect is a really kind of a challenging thing, especially in today's society with the rapid access to news media because of the internet and other forms of information transmission. We're never going to really completely be able to counteract its effect. But one of the biggest things that as a society we need to stop doing is we need to stop trying to sensationalize the perpetrators of these acts of violence. That continued focus and obsession is only what fuels the individuals that may be seeking to do harm in the future. We're providing notoriety, which in many cases is what a lot of these people are after. They feel as though that they're invisible and they want to do something to gain recognition and become infamous. And by focusing so much attention on them, we're just validating that opinion. So we need to make a shift away from sensationalizing the perpetrators of these acts of violence and instead focus on the heroes of the event, the rescuers, the responders, and especially the victims of these. And let's tell their stories instead of the stories of the suspects."
There are many common misconceptions about active shooter events, such as that rifles or assault rifles are the preferred weapon, that they only occur in gun-free zones, or that gun laws prevent active shooter events. In reality, handguns are most commonly used by active shooters, they can occur anywhere, and gun laws have no effect on active shooter events. Transcript: "So the question is, are there any common misconceptions about active shooter events that we want to address? Definitely. There are so many misconceptions and falsehoods out there as it relates to active shooters. We could literally do an entire series just on this one topic alone. But I'm just going to address just a couple of them real fast. So one of the biggest ones being that rifles or assault rifles are the preferred weapon by active shooters. That is false. Handguns are actually the most common weapon that's used because we're able to sneak them into a location concealed. Another misconception is that these events only occur in gun-free zones or that shooters primarily target locations because they're a gun-free zone. Again, that is also false. Now that has happened. Obviously we have had events in gun-free zones. However, in the majority of times, the shooter is going to choose a location based upon some sort of personal connection. Maybe it's their office or their workplace or school or something like that. So the majority of the time, the location being a gun-free zone is actually completely irrelevant to the target selection. They're going to choose something that's more personal in nature. Another big falsehood that's out there is that gun laws prevent active shooter events. Again, we've seen this to be false. We've seen active shooters use every weapon system imaginable, knives, vehicles, explosives. You take your pick. The weapon that's used is just purely the tool that's being utilized. So again, these are just some of the many misconceptions that are out there as it relates to active shooter events."
There is no one single thing that's been causing the increase in active shooter attacks, but rather a combination of a polarizing cultural climate, celebration of violence, and the contagion effect due to rapid access to news media. Transcript: "So this is a great question and unfortunately it's just not an easy answer because there's not any one single thing that's been causing this increase in active shooter attacks in the United States. This is a very polarizing time in American culture, both on a cultural and an individual level. And then you combine that with kind of the celebration of violence in today's culture where individuals that commit violence draw a lot of attention and a lot of feedback. And then due to the intense public focus and rapid access to news media thanks to the internet, we see an increase in what's called the contagion effect where one event spurs copycats and it continues to motivate others. And that just kind of digs us down this hole where one active shooter event continues to lead to others which lead to others."
I have had six deployments so far, in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, South America, Northern Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Syria. I did security work in the first few and then post 9/11 I was involved in counterintelligence, counterterrorism, counterdrug work, building partnerships and Special Operations. Transcript: "So where have I been deployed to? I've got about six total deployments so far. My first one was to United Arab Emirates doing security work. Next I deployed to Saudi Arabia again doing security work and then forward deployed into Oman to do counterintelligence and counterterrorism. This was kind of pre 9-11. Next my third one was I went down to South America and did counter drug work and then after 9-11 and the war in Iraq I deployed into northern Iraq into the Kirkuk area for about 10 months and then my next was Afghanistan for about another 10 months. My last and most current deployment so far was I went into Kuwait as a JTAC and started doing building partnership training with Saudi Arabian JTACs and then forward deployed as a JTAC into Syria for about five and a half six months working up there doing special operations."
We need to focus on the root cause of school shootings and gun violence, which is often a mental health crisis in individuals. We also need to make sure that juveniles don't have unrestricted access to firearms, and that those deemed to be a threat through proper legal proceedings are prevented from gaining access to guns. Transcript: "Josh, this is a great question when it comes to talking about gun violence and especially how it relates to school shootings and active shooter events in the United States. I think that oftentimes it's real easy for us to blame a tangible object like the gun when we really need to be focused on the root cause, which is the individuals that are doing these attacks. We know that either documented or undocumented, that they have a history of mental health or behavioral issues. Oftentimes this is going to be tied around inability or negative coping mechanisms to deal with life stressors and negative events that are occurring in their life. And so I think we need to be focused on being able to increase resources to provide mental health, to being able to do threat detection and behavioral analysis to try and do early intervention and get these individuals help so that this never becomes an issue. Now does that not mean that there also isn't an issue with these individuals having unrestricted access to firearms? No, that's not the case at all. We do have that problem and we do need to focus on that. We do need to make sure that these juveniles don't have unrestricted access to firearms, that firearms are stored safely where they can't get access to them. We do need to make sure that if we have an individual that has been deemed to be a threat through a proper legal proceeding involving mental health, that we are preventing that individual from being able to gain access to tools that can be utilized to commit these deadly events. So there is a certain case to be made for being able to also tackle the gun violence as it relates to that, but I still think the underlying root cause is going to be that mental health crisis within the individual that leads to this."