The Art of the Debrief and Workplace Safety

If you are part of an administration, security team, or training entity concerned with workplace safety, this post is for you and your team.  It has been years since I either taught as an Instructor Trainer or actually took part in this activity, but all too often workers go through various efforts to maintain a safe workplace, oftentimes achieving some degree or success, while concomitantly failing to some degree with little or no recognizable effort(s) by the entity (administration of) to change or redirect these efforts.

This is exactly where The Art of the Debrief comes in!

This is not just my opinion, but research reveals this to be a fact!  Security teams require guidance, support, and leadership in order to improve efforts.

Maybe it would help if I define my terms.  What di I mean by Debrief?

A debrief is an intelligent and concerned review of (violence) preventive efforts after each event.  A debrief can be performed by a security team, maybe led by that team’s leader with his/her “team,” or, more often, the team itself.  Better, I think, a Debrief can be led by the agency itself, featuring a review of the following:

  • What are any (tactical) patterns (of the teams) that lead to success or failure?  What might be typical patterns or disruption, disorder or violence that the security teams are facing?
  • A cogent review of the staff’s response to incidents.
  • What the staff did that worked?  What the staff did that led to problematic issues?  Suggestions and/or directions for future strategies/tactics?
  • An expression of trust and confidence (support) in team members.
  • If possible, Brainstorm options on what can and should be done differently (only if past and current responses are problematic).
  • Discuss and/or Publish Goals & Objectives (how can your staff know what they need to do to be considered effective & successful)?
  • IF NECESSARY, ESTABLISH PROTOCOLS ON THE CHANGES NEEDED, including how to accomplish, et al.

This may be a bit unclear or confusing, so allow me to give an example.  Back in the day when I trained Retrieval Teams (picking up parole violators & returning them to prison), I directed the teams to debrief following the retrieval.  The team would meet, discuss the incident and brainstorm their efforts.  In a later review of my debriefing protocol, officers wrote that they thought that their debriefing saved lives “down the line.”  

Brainstorming what the team and individuals observed, what they did right, what they could have done differently, the attitudes they took into the event and how that led to success or failure, and what they should do differently in the future, I propose tightened their level of tactical communication and led to changes in the level of operations that was conducive to success.

Until my next post, stay safe.

The Hammer




Howdy, friends and faithful followers.  I am just finishing my 4th book.  Another non-fiction safety manual directed for our senior citizens.  Well, heck, I am an older folk, even though I have trouble thinking of myself as vulnerable and what I call a “Universal Victim.”

Nothing personal if you are 60 and beyond (Sixty & Beyond is the title).  The universal victim remark is a predator’s perception, not necessarily reality.


Interested in never being a victim?  Of course you are.  Well, here are a few tips on staying safe in a universe where predators seem to be everywhere, their nostrils flaring, sniffing for victims.

  • Studies and my experience shows that Prevention and Awareness comprise about 97 to 98% of successful self-defense.
  • However, for us older folk, I punch that estimate all the way up to 98 to 99%.  After all, after 60 our reflexes slow, as well as our sight, hearing, balance, you name it.  The key becomes being able to avoid being selected as a victim.
  • Avoid selection by walking confidently – arms and legs moving contralaterally, head and eyes up and looking around.  Think about this:  whom do you think the lion will choose for its next meal, the zebra that is alert, moving, looking around and aware of the lion, or the zebra who hardly ever looks up and around, who seems unaware?  
  • Always carry something in your hand while in public (when practicable).  Keys with your finger inside the ring, perhaps.  Be aware and use improvised weapons which you probably have on or near you most of the time.  Keys, cell phones, books, wallet, purse, spatula, newspaper (rolled up tight and strike with the edge).
  • If selected, be aware that the bad guy will almost always use a distractio


Originally intended for school staff – teachers, administration, and security – here are some time honored tips toward preventing a physical assault in your workplace or in your general surroundings.  In my books (my fourth is almost out), a repetitive theme for personal and professional safety is Situation Intelligence.  Translation:  if you maintain a state of awareness of your surroundings as they mutate and change, you maximize your opportunity to go home in one piece at the end of the day!

How about Perpetrator Body Language?  Just as victims (let’s talk about this area in a pursuant post) may transmit body language, the assaultive and/or criminal bad guy often sends us body language that can signal an impending attack.  Noticing these signs (I call it the “pre-fight-dance”) can stop an otherwise imminent attack.  Let’s look at some of these Red Flags that can allow you to hear a punch coming before the bad guy knows he’s going to throw it.

PALMING.  In the context of this post, palming in an act of  concealment of a weapon (or contraband).  A benign example of this is a student or employee smoking in a restricted area when security walks through.  The employee may cup his or her hand to conceal the cigarette.  Palming, however, becomes a real threat when the student/employee conceals a weapon until he or she can close in on the intended victim.  Remember, an edged weapon is ineffective unless the perpetrator can get inside your PSZ (Personal Safety Zone).

BLADING is a “stance of concern” because it is a body positioning tactic indicative of the concealment of a weapon.  Blading is a position whereby the subject’s chest and torso are turned to one side.  Maybe a better descriptive term would be a Boxer’s Stance, a worrisome positioning aspect where you can see the rearward shoulder dropped a bit and the attendant arm and hand hanging near or behind the rearward leg (the hand curled into a fist).

More Pre-Assault Dance Moves.  Before he or she attacks, you will notice a few other red flags.  Such as:

  • Sprinter’s Lean – the subject will lean forward just before the attack.
  • Changes in Color – Facial coloring will change along with the subject’s state of readiness to attack.  Goes from normal to red, from red to pale and from pale to white.  If you see pale or white (uncontrollable rage), trust me, dudes or duddettes, get the heck out of Dodge!  The blood is leaving the face as his or her emotions escalate.  Also, look for tension in the facial structure.
  • EYES, EYES, EYES!  Be aware of  what is happening with the eyes.  First, he will look at his or her “target.”  Where he wants to punch, slap, grab, kick or stab.  Then he will calm down and look away.  Trust me on this, friends, he or she WILL look away.  Another thing, if he or she is screaming, threatening, cursing at you, he or she will go near-silent here.  DO NOT think of this as a sign that he or she has decided NOT to attack!  Consider this as “the calm before the storm.  This is because your attacker has just decided what he is going to do to you and is gearing up for it emotionally.
  • THE TARGET STARE, THE HIATUS, THE SECOND TARGET STARE AND THEN BOOM!  That’s the sequence.  He will break off the aggressive use of words, look away (hiatus), and then will turn back and issue one last quick target stare, which is your last chance to move, defuse, or penetrate!  Seconds later he WILL punch, kick, slap, stab.
  • THE THOUSAND YARD STARE.  Your tormentor has lost the ability to effectively control his emotions.  The result is this long-off look, a blank look that lasts a few seconds.  This offers you an opportunity to use words to de-escalate the subject or take other precautions.
  • HE WILL SHOVE YOU WITH ONE OR BOTH HANDS/HE WILL “STAB” YOU IN THE CHEST WITH A POINTED FINGER.  Especially if you tell the subject to stay back, don’t come any closer, these acts can be considered assaults.  Even more, if a student, fellow-worker, supervisor, or other citizen does either of the above, he has entered your PSZ without your consent and is for dead-bang certain about to assault you.  All he is doing is testing the waters.  If you do not respond correctly, you are basically saying, “Yo, dude, the water’s fine.  Come on in!”
  • Wondering what to do in these & other scenarios?  Look for a future post.  I got your back.

Limited time and space here prevents me from going any further.  Just remember that the key to safety, survival, and/or preventing an assault in the first place is staying aware.  Situational Intelligence.

Verbal Signs of an attack and how to manage these kind of threats in the next post.  Until then, please stay safe.

The Hammer

On Staying “Left of Bang.” Learn How To Prevent an Active Killer in Your Workplace or Homeplace!

I am likely guilty of oversimplifying the Left of Bang principles.  If so, I suggest you purchase the book of the same title.  If you are concerned with preventing violence or even a catastrophe, it will open your eyes.  It will blow your mind.  It may be your first step in becoming a Combat Profiler, or being able to recognize when someone is planning on bringing harm to your congregation, your classroom, yourself…

Perhaps a true story will illustrate the importance of abiding by some of the principles of Left of Bang that I have been advocating literally for decades.  This story will, I hope, prove the efficacy of establishing a Yellow State of Mind (see previous post), identifying an anomaly (from a baseline, also talked about in previous posts) and being able to move from Yellow to Orange (identifying a specific threat and matching that with a specific plan of action if that threat materializes in the Red State of Mind!

In other words, being aware, assessing what you are aware of, and once you do, anticipating what might or will happen in the immediate future unless you do something, and, then, here’s the trick:  doing something about it!

Tara Bemeth

Don’t expect specific details.  I know about Tara from my research I did for one of my books.  She was part of a security team for a Baptist church in the Denver, Colorado area.  Tara had a hardline baseline for her church.  Meaning, she knew everyone in the congregation, knew them well.  Called many of them “friend,” some were even relatives.  Tara was nowhere close to being an expert in combat profiling, or just plain, ordinary profiling.  All she was was a security team volunteer.

Oh, yeah, she was determined.  She really, truly cared that no harm would ever come to any of her friends or relatives.  There was that.

This Autumn Sunday upon which I am focused began like any other Sunday.  The pastor waxed eloquent, she noted in her report.  The congregation appeared in high spirits.  Well, most of the congregants were anyways.  There was the Brewster family (I am making up this name; my notes don’t cover this).  Mother and twin daughters.  Something about them was simply “not right (anomalous).”  They constantly looked around and from time to time the mother had to comfort the twins by stroking their hair and hugging them.

The other thing:  Mister Brewster.  He had never missed a service before.  Not as long as tara had been part of the church family.  Tara was beginning to get a  “real bad feeling.”

Mister Brewster never showed up throughout the service, and, just as it was about to end, Tara walked from the prayer session to the lobby where she was able to observe the parking lot.  There she saw the husband pacing back and forth, forth and back around his pickup truck parked sideways – unusual – away from the scores of cars owned by the usual congregants.

When the services were over, as usual, the church doors opened and several families avoided shaking hands with the pastor, which was not that unusual, but the others gathered in the usual “reception line” around the pastor with a few families departing.

Tara noticed Mister Brewster immediately going to the back of his truck and pulling out an object covered with a white towel.

Something really really was out of whack.  Tara stopped the Brewsters from leaving.  She wanted to interview the mother.  Ask about the domestic situation, but there was no time.  She alerted the pastor and the others from the security team.  No one was permitted to leave (lockdown) and the police were called.  Two of the security team, who were armed and trained, took up position.

Probably sensing something was awry, Mr. Brewster got back into his truck and rocketed out of the parking lot.  He was stopped a mile or so away.  The cops didn’t have to search hard to find the loaded shotguns and one 357 Magnum.  When interrogated, Brewster admitted being determined to gun down his wife, his children, and for undetermined reasons, the pastor.

Be Aware, Assess, Anticipate and Act.

Until next time, Stay safe.

The Hammer


A note to anyone asking him or herself what the heck “Left of Bang” is, kindly click back to my last post titled “Left of Bang.”  If you choose not to, it matters little because what follows will make sense either way, I believe.

My point here is, the key to safety & survival is to avoid being caught Right of Bang.  Better put is “the key to S & S is to always get caught LEFT of Bang!  How do we do this?


Most of us do not have ample life experiences (with terrorism, active shooters, and the like) to make quick, life-saving decisions like experts.  Ergo, introducing my (Winology) substitute for the genuine intuition and adopting, adapting expertise it usually requires to adroitly prevent massacres like that of the Sutherland Baptist Church.

  • By constantly being aware we can proactively take action before getting caught Right of Bang.  Accomplishing this is surprisingly simple, requiring us to stay in the correct state(s)-of-mind.  I have been teaching officers and lay citizens the Yellow State of Mind for decades:  “a relaxed 360-degree awareness of people and things that surround us at all times and being particularly aware when “normal” changes to “abnormal.”

And adapting, adopting and activating the best & most basic skills of observation, (combat) hunting, and “urban know-how” & combining them to increase our ability to identify threats.   I know this is a lot to bite off and chew, so let my try to break it down in this and the next post.  After all, these are the Three Pillars of the vaunted Combat Hunter System.

Basically, what these “pillars” boil down to is learning how to “read the human terrain through an increased understanding of human behavior…which will teach (Marines) how to separate the ‘sheep’ from the ‘wolves.”


The 3d pillar of the Combat Hunter is likely the most crucial.  COMBAT PROFILING is a method of proactively identifying threats based upon human behavior and other cues from one’s surroundings.  You can do this by incorporating these 4 skills: situational awareness, sensitivity of baselines & anomalies, critical thinking, and decision-making (the pillars of my Winology Philosophy).

In the next post I will narrow down the narrative on profiling.  Specifically:

  • SIGNATURES OF DANGER.  How can you maximize your ability to identify the person/people who may be the next mass-murderer in your workplace, church, school, etc?

Until then, stay safe.

The Hammer


Left of Bang, briefly, comes our way from what was known as the Combat Hunter Course which taught our Marines what their conventional training did not.  What was that?  Specifically, not only how to deal with bad guys -but how to spot them in the first place, particular when they look & act like the good guys.  

Oh, and by the way, this Combat Hunter’s Course and Left of Bang is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of Marines in the Middle East and other dangerous places overseas.

So, let me ask you.  Do you think that learning how to detect the presence of a killer (active shooter) even though he or she is among your student body (schools), your congregation (churches, synagogues, temples, mosques) or factory (workplace) and looks and acts just like your most pious congregant, your most studious student, etc?

You ask me, I’d say damned skippy I do.

Especially since the theme of this and the last couple posts is how to prevent the next Sutherland (Texas) Baptist Church Massacre in your church, school, shopping mall, entertainment event, and/or workplace.

I think one of the critical issues with preparing for and managing an effective anti-killer program in your particular (populated) locale is that, basically, THE ENEMY IS UNIDENTIFIABLE!   The killer could be anybody….well, maybe not…by adopting a Left of Bang mentality, we can learn how to up the odds (from something like 25% to 88% accuracy) that you and/or your security can – with hawk-like skill -pick out he or she who is stalking you with deadly intent in such a way and in such a manner that the targeted prey (you) can begin and finish the process of turning active killer turning to inactive prey!


First things first.  What is “Bang?”  Well, folks, Bang is the catastrophe.  Bang is 50-some dead in Las Vegas, 20-some dead and dozens injured at the Sutherland Baptist.  Bang is what I am hoping to  prevent!  Ergo, Right of Bang is how the popo and the government almost always react.  AFTER the event.

But, by adopting a LOB (left of Bang) preventive mentality or attitude, we are going to act in such a way to plan for, detect, and stop the perspective killer well before any attack!

In the next post I will go inside our new LOB Prevention State-of-Mind.  Until then, stay safe.

The Hammer


NOW THAT WE KNOW MORE about the tragic massacre at the Sutherland (Texas) Baptist Church, let’s add one more bulwark against your workplace (school, church, temple, mosque, et al.) making the next 11:00 news..the tragic victim of the next active killer.

This comes as no surprise to me or other experts you may have heard on CNN or other such channels.  Experts who have speculated within an hour or so of the shooting that there probably is some domestic connection between the maniac and the church’s congregation.  Turns out there was.  Days before the attack, the killer emailed lethal threats to the mother of his estranged spouse (I believe).

Why am I writing about this?

I am pointing this out because in case after case concerning active shooters – no matter the venue – there is such a connection.

I write about and teach “Managing Workplace Violence.”  And here is the long and the short of preventing a future destroyed by some miscreant with a gun, a rifle, a bomb marching through your workplace like Sherman marching through Georgia….

Domestic Violence leaking into the workplace is one of the key factors in workplace violence!

And that is, whenever possible, be aware of any serious domestic discord among your employees, congregation, etc.  Let’s review:

  • TRY TO BE AWARE OF ANY SERIOUS DOMESTIC PROBLEMS AMONG YOUR CONGREGATION.  I know.  Not easy to do, but as many progressive and safety-conscious facilities have started doing, begin communications…
  • SECURITY STARTS WITH “FAMILY.”  Arrange for “tactical seating,” with father (armed), sitting on outside, quick to action.  Teach children what to do and how to react (like a fire drill).


Until then, Stay safe.

The Hammer

The Sutherland Baptist Church Massacre. On Piecing the Puzzle.

THIS  will be the first of three posts on putting the scattered pieces of the enigmatic puzzle that the Sutherland, Texas Baptist Church mass shooting represents.  Maybe I am waxing melodramatic here, but, for heaven’s sake, here we are, heading pell mell toward the end of 2017 (this is November 6), and I believe we are at a point in time where no one can feel truly safe anywhere.  Not in a mall; not at a concert; not in an elementary, middle, high school or college.  And certainly not in a church, temple, synagogue, mosque….not anywhere.

So, you may have asked yourself, a police officer, your spouse, is there anything I can do to minimize (eliminate?) the chances I or my loved ones will be the next victim(s)?


Using this tragedy as a teachable moment, we need to understand that, more likely than not, your local place of worship, your school, your sporting event locale, are all what we (experts, et al) call SOFT TARGETS (ST).  I talk about ST’s in my 2nd book (Super Secret Police S**t That Can Save Your Life, on Amazon) and promote ways of making these locales Hard.

It is my opinion that by taking a few simple steps to harden the target (the church), probably only a few – instead of 26, a number that will likely grow, not to mention the 20-something church-goers who are wounded – would have been shot.  Perhaps none.

The shooter was dressed all in black combat gear, was armed with an impossible-to-hide semi-auto long gun and was loping across a street from a service station where he was parked.  Well placed security and/or well-placed cameras would have spotted the gunman a good 25-yards from the church.  If armed, security could have either stopped the attacker cold or at least slowed him down long enough to warn and alert the congregation.  If not armed, security could have warned worshippers, who, instead of being sitting ducks, could have scrambled for cover, could have locked down the church, prevented the miscreant, who commenced shooting as he approached, from entering….maybe…


Understand this.  I posted a few years back about the vulnerability of Baptist congregations.  They comprise the largest incidents of church-related killings.  This is not the time or place to go into how & why, but the fact is, they are.  A church with a Hard-Target Mentality might do what Daryl Kennedy, Security Expert, and member of the Calvary Baptist Church, Easton, Pa. has sought to do and that is to make his leadership and congregations aware of the potential dangers, both inside and outside (parking lot, exits, entrances) of the church.

Daryl and I are now working on a book about church-related killings, which, by the way, are legion in the U.S.  We can learn a lot about making ourselves safe in potentially unsafe environments through some simple, common sense methodology, including, but not limited to some of the tactics and principles I will go into in the next two or three posts.

  • Mental Conditioning, or Survival Psyche.
  • Selectively Arming & Training Members.
  • Selectively selecting & training a dedicated security staff.
  • Periodic Monitoring of Congregation Members (domestic, psychological issues, etc).
  • Understanding the Left of Bang (security) Mentality.

Until the next post, stay safe.

The Hammer


IF YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THIS BLOG SITE, you may remember a series of posts on preventing and/or surviving the dreaded Active Killer (Shooter) in your church, synagogue (temple), school, or workplace.  Since then (about four years ago), there have been at least a dozen mass killings in the United States.

TODAY (November 5, 2017), during services at a Baptist church in Southerland Springs (sp?), Texas, a score of miles from San Antonia, a gunman opened fire in the middle of (church) services, killing at least 27 (the number may grow) and wounding another 24.  The maniac fled the scene and was intercepted by police and eventually shot & killed.

What’s important in this context is how we can process this catastrophe and the seemingly unending flow of insane mass assaults on our well-being.  I mean, come on, we still must deal with our everyday lives.  Sending our children to (religious, elementary, middle, or high) school, or entering our workplaces.  Or, what about enjoying a concert or ballgame (especially after the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Vegas where over a 100 Country Western fans never went home)?

So, in the next few posts, I will cover (again) some key survival skills, tips on recognizing semi-clear signs that something bad your-way comes, and what you might do to prevent, escape, and/or prevail.

I am talking about all the “Soft Targets” out there that, more likely than not, you will eventually be entering and exiting probably on a daily basis.  Aint it about time you developed my Hard Target Strategy (or, Winology)?

Until then, stay safe.

Harry Hammer


My Kid Escape and/or Date Escape Training System works on some fundamental and simple principles.  Simple, easily-done and reliable under stress.  Why is that important?  Because when a child, teenager, or even an adult victim is attacked, it is almost always a surprise.  In less than two seconds, the victim will experience a myriad of visual, auditory, cognitive and physical dysfunctions because his or her central nervous system will be flooded with stress hormones.  

This will almost always (98%) result in the victim freezing upon first touch, holding his or her breath and going mute!  Making him or her the Ideal Victim, by the by…

Kid Escape, therefore, teaches skills in observation, awareness (of others, the environment and others, and inculcates a trigger-mechanism advocating a series of tactics once the child is aware of danger.  Some of these tactics are designed to get the kid moving (counter-freezing) and verbalizing so that the (potential) molester knows that his intended victim knows what he is up to, and, by verbalizing, so do others nearby become aware.


  • Observe.
  • Trigger the Tactics.
  • Move, talk, Isolate the potential abductor.
  • Seek out barricades in the environment (garbage cans; benches; tables; backpack(s); rocks & boulders, et al.
  • Seek out good hiding places.
  • Move toward others who are “safe (mothers with children).”
  • Find Improvised Weapons and Shields (broomsticks, garbage can lids, rocks).
  • Now, if the bad guy is able to surprise his victim and comes close enough to grab the child:
  1. Crab Walk away.  Keep facing the bad guy and “walk” backwards using his or her hands.
  2. Shirt-On-Fire.  If standing and able, run away from the bad guy.  Always run in a zig-zag fashion but turn back and look at the bad guy as you run.  Also, use barricades to separate you from the bad guy if he pursues.  “Shirt-On-Fire” is a great Escape & Evasion tactic.  In training sessions, I ask my students to pretend their shirt and pants are on fire.  Drop to the ground and roll as if trying to put out the fire!  Why is this effective?  Well, if you are an adult, especially over 40 (most pedophiles are 40 and above), take this test:  Find a child or teenager and try to grab and hold them.  Now, just as you are about to gran the child, have him or her drop and roll.  Unless you are in great shape and spry, it’s going to take you several minutes to grab and hold that kid.
  3. Delay Rocks!  If you’ve read my past posts, you know that the last thing a child predator wants in the crime scene is a delay.  In almost 100% of cases, in the Shirt On Fire scenario will give up.
  4. Drop-Lock & Roll.  If the bad guy does, however, glom onto the kid, there is still hope with the Kid Escape System.  Until the next post when I will explain how you can teach your child how to escape, Stay Safe!

The Hammer