Mental Preparation

Prepper Mindset

Having a prepper mindset is a valuable resource for someone to possess. By keeping a prepper mindset, I am always on the ready for the out of the ordinary situation.

Early on in my law enforcement career, I was a reserve officer for a small-town police agency. I trained with a wonderful female officer named Dawn.  She always emphasized mental role playing to stay sharp. Working in a small community in West Orange County Florida, we didn’t have much criminal activity to give us experience.

Exposure is the best learning experience

I had heard the war stories from the other senior full time officers. They had experienced physical confrontations with combative drunk drivers who tried to disarm the officers during the physical arrest. Dawn and I actually responded to my first shots fired call. Upon making contact with an armed suspect, I entered my first physical fight while assisting her during an arrest. It was with a chemically impaired driver. I also had my first foot pursuit during a midnight shift of a fleeing felon during a traffic stop. 

An unusual event can happen anywhere

These events occurred in a quiet town which rolls up their main streets at night. The majority of the shift was conducting business checks for locked doors. We responded to barking dog complaints and patrolled the dirt back streets. Our Chief would say these types of events are rare in our town. Her words of wisdom burned into the far back regions of my brain.

Later in the year I got hired by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office because the current head of Court Security decided that it would be wise to supplement his small staff of bailiffs with younger motivated deputies because he saw the writing on the wall that the type of criminals being moved to court appearances were getting worse.   

Preppers are strong mentally

During my job interview, the Lieutenant was showing me around the courthouse. We happened upon a combative arrestee at the Courtroom (E Block) holding cell area. This was my second introduction to physical resistance. The Lt looked at me and asked if I was still interested to which I replied “Yes”. His response was “Here’s your badge, you have your own gun. See you in the morning”. 

This was back in the early 1980’s when there might be one armed deputy per court room. That was only if the Judge or lead bailiff felt it was necessary. Several deputy bailiffs declined to carry firearms and one deputy had a full beard and wore sandals. He reminded me of papa smurf.

Training was one hour a month on the first Thursday. As for equipment we had two options. Sign for a forfeiture weapon from evidence or purchase your own.   Our staff consisted of two age groups. The older 40 and 50 year old retirees and maybe 10 early twenties new hard chargers.

Beginning my training

My first Field Training Officer was Court Deputy Arnie Wilkerson. He was a retiree who reminded everyone of Captain Kangaroo in appearance. He was one of the nicest easy-going people to ever work with but he had no previous patrol street experience.

 His assistant, deputy Mary was a former Tampa PD vice officer trying to pick up the pieces of her life. A member of her unit was killed during a drug sting. Years later I heard the audio of the sting operation and totally understand. To make it worse several more of her fellow squad officers were killed in an I-4 accident. It happened when they stopped to assist a disabled motorist and were struck by a drunk driver. 

My second FTO was deputy Dutch. He was a younger former Philly transit police officer who relocated to Florida to serve in a less violent community.  He was very knowledgeable and easy going. This was important because our courtroom “O” was down in the basement and well away from help. Most of our defendants being crazy misdemeanor offenders. Remaining calm was important.

The Importance of Mental Preparation

Here’s why mental preparation is important because contrary to belief many of your misdemeanor offenders are mentally unstable. They end up getting arrested for stupid offenses. The felons whose crimes may have been violent or severe are more stable and know how to play the game.

I was twenty when I was hired in September 1983 and would be turning twenty-one in a month. I would be old enough to serve in law enforcement and the military but not old enough to purchase a handgun or ammunition.  For the most part my first few months at work were uneventful. My first trial was a drug rip-off murder. It occurred in Moss park Narcossee area of Orange County Fl. I handled several other defendants with various charges with no major problems or issues.

 On the home front, my older brother had been injured during shelling while serving in the Marines. He was stationed in Beirut and was on the hospital ship when his barracks was destroyed by a truck bomb killing most of his fellow squad members. I still remember seeing the two uniformed Marines walking up to our apartment to make the notification. Dawn’s words of being mentally prepared started returning to my tiny little brain.

The details remain vivid

Tuesday January 10th, 1984 would hammer her words of wisdom home. I was returning from break and riding the center elevator back up to the seventh floor. It stopped at the fourth floor just outside our court security office.  A court reporter named Big Al yelled out that there had just been a shooting. He rushed into the elevator to escape harm’s way. I being the bright one exited the elevator into the frantic hallway crime scene.

To my left lying in the hallway was Mark Parker, a twenty-one-year-old correction officer. He was bleeding badly from a gunshot wound. Inside our office seating area lay the gunman bleeding from a gunshot wound and just being secured in handcuffs. Just around the corner only a few feet away lay Field Training Officer Bailiff Arnie Wilkerson. He was dead from a shotgun blast to the chest.

We perform how we train

Dawns previous words hit me hard “mental preparation”, I immediately attended to Mark’s injuries applying a clean bandana style handkerchief trying to stop the bleeding.  I stayed with Mark all the way out to the ambulance, frustrated that I was not able to do more for him. Throughout the remainder of my career I would carry a bandana style handkerchief in my back pocket whenever I worked.

Upon returning to the fourth-floor scene, I asked for directions or orders on what else needed to be done. I was told that another Bailiff named Harry Dalton had also been shot and was in a bad way.  Upon returning to my original courtroom G on the seventh floor. I briefed the Judge and my supervisor on what had occurred several floors below. The remainder of the day was just a blur as court hearings proceeded. Real life stops for no events other activities must continue.

Procedure was different back then

This was back in the days before cell phones, panic buttons, portable radios or bullet proof vests being available to our section. This was also a time before people were searched before entering the courthouse allowing this defendant to bring in a carbine, shortened shotgun and a revolver concealed underneath his rain jacket. Outside in his vehicle were several homemade pipe bombs.  All for a defendant appearing on a misdemeanor “refusal to sign a traffic citation” case.

When it was all said and done everyone involved lives was shattered or changed forever. Arnie Wikerson was dead, Harry Dalton and Mark Parker badly injured. Both would eventually die years later from their injuries.  Please keep them in your thoughts as January 10th rolls back around.

The effects can be devastating

Because we were not mentally prepared, several fellow court bailiffs were so badly shaken by the incident. They along with Mary would resign and exit law enforcement for good. Dutch my second Field Training Officer was immediately involved exchanging shots with the suspect prior to his apprehension.  It took this event to wake us up and for our section to request better training and equipment.

When I became a training officer for new hires, I would use this and several other situations as training scenarios. I tryed to give them mental ammunition for preparation should similar events occur to them during their careers.

You ask “what does this have to do with a Prepper Mindset”? Everything! Just the meaning of prepping explains it. Make some scenarios of disasters or events you are preparing for. Try to game plan them, kick them around with fellow preppers and learn from them. Use them to get yourself mentally prepared. This will help so that the situation will not be so overwhelming that you quit on yourself when it happens.  Role playing, and mental preparation are everything in a survival situation.  Having a prepper mindset will assist in you’re survival.  

P.S.  Dawn “Thank You” You probably saved my life.

As always be safe and healthy my friends. Be sure to follow our blog for more informational articles.

Ralph Tcat

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