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Why Obama’s advice to police to ‘abandon warrior mindset’ won’t work

Every police officer is a guardian, but on the inside there must reside the beating heart of an honorable warrior ready to be summoned at a moment’s notice

President Barack Obama recently announced he was substantially neutering the 1033 program — prohibiting certain armor and weapons from being turned over to law enforcement.

I believe the President will in change his point of view on this issue if and when ISIS attacks our homeland as they have promised. When ISIS hits the homeland there will be a tactical reconfiguration of American law enforcement.

When he announced the evisceration of the 1033 program, the President called for law enforcement to embrace a guardian mindset, while abandoning the warrior mindset.

Guardian and Warrior
After working with and training police officers for 41 years, I have come to believe the majority of police officers are guardians hard-wired to protect the flock. No one has to train them to want to be a guardian. What people in the protected class do not realize is that when you make a person a guardian, you place them immediately in harm’s way.

The Bible contains the story of David, who was tasked with guarding his father’s flock. The day came when a lion carried off one of the lambs. The boy felt it was his duty to pursue the lion, and rescue the lamb.

He did so, and the future King of Israel defeated the “king of beasts.”

The point is, when you make a person a guardian this comes with responsibilities to be a protector as well. Some guardians faced with a lion would abandon the flock, some would run and sound the alarm, and still others would stand and fight.

American police officers nearly universally are of the stand and fight variety. They look at their communities as the flock they are sworn to protect with their lives, and they do.

The Warrior Mindset
As a trainer I’ve observed for years that although young recruits at entry level already are steeped in a strong desire to protect, unless they have prior military service, they do not have the skills nor the proper attitude to be able to do so. The skills and attitude needed to win in each and every challenge are not innate — they must be trained.

There is a need to train officers to acquire the skills and mindset of an honorable warrior if they are truly going to be able to guard the communities they serve. If possessing the tools and attitude needed to protect their communities truly alienates the public as the President says, then the public needs to be educated.

The Heart of Warrior
The best example in history of the guardian/warrior mindset took place at Thermopylae (Gates of Fire) when a Persian army of would-be conquerors met 300 Spartans face-to-face. The Persian King Xerxes thought himself merciful, when he ordered the Spartans to drop to their knees and lay down their weapons.

Any army in the world at that time facing such unequal numbers would most certainly have done as ordered. The Spartans knew that they not only were the guardians of the Greek people, but also the protectors of a new idea called Democracy.

Leonidas and the men stood tall as he responded defiantly, “Molan Labe!” (“Come and get them!”). These Spartans bravely fought — and to a man, died — but they saved Greece and Democracy from disappearing to history.

This Spartan spirit is still alive today in every honorable American soldier and police officer sworn to protect this country and every person in it.

In short, when a police officer takes up the proverbial shield of the guardian there will come a time he or she will eventually have to unsheathe the proverbial sword of the warrior. Every police officer is a guardian, but on the inside there must reside the beating heart of an honorable warrior ready to be summoned at a moment’s notice.

Many in this country don’t realize that now as much as ever, our guardians must also be warriors, for once again, the Persians are at the gate.

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou’s awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. Additional awards Lt. Marcou received were 15 departmental citations (his department’s highest award), two Chief’s Superior Achievement Awards and the Distinguished Service Medal for his response to an active shooter. He is a co-author of “Street Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,” which is now available. His novels, “The Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,” “SWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,” “Nobody’s Heroes” and Destiny of Heroes,” as well as his latest non-fiction offering, “Law Dogs, Great Cops in American History,” are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.