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Leumas Security Services LLC in Newport News, Virginia is dedicated to the safety of our clients. Read our blog to find out the many ways you can protect yourself, and to learn more about us.

Taking COVID-19 Into 2022

Happy New Year 2022

Image: Shutterstock

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December 28, 2021

COVID-19 doesn’t care how much money you make, where you live, or the important people you know. You think you’re important? COVID doesn’t care. You can be our Commander-in-Chief or nicknamed “Chief,” the virus that has claimed more than 813,000 lives since it hit the US doesn’t care.

In a way, COVID-19 makes us all equal, and it’s going to continue to be that way as we head into the new year.

But we can fight back. If we collectively get vaccinated and take the booster shots we have a better chance of beating this virus. For those among us who feel that they don’t need the shots, God have mercy on their souls.

Every time we seem to get a handle on COVID-19, it roars back. The best weapons we have to fight it are vaccination, mask-wearing and physical distancing. Unfortunately, too many people don’t want to do those things.

In my opinion, not wearing a mask and not getting vaccinated are like putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger. Or like going into space and taking off the helmet that pumps oxygen into your lungs. Yes, it’s my opinion, but it’s based on guidance given by countless people who are experts on this.

Why take chances with your life, and the lives of everyone around you?

COVID-19 itself is bad enough. On top of being physically ill, many more people are dealing with depression and other mental challenges brought on, or possibly made worse, by life with a pandemic. If that’s you or someone you know, it’s important that you find ways to care for yourself, get help, or both.

The virus has also made for many anxious travel experiences, especially when flying. Americans don’t like being told what to do, but when you enter an airport or business, you must follow the guidelines that are designed to keep everyone safe. If you don’t, watch out! Being told to pull up your mask multiple times will quickly get you in some serious trouble, as I witnessed on a recent flight.

It’s no joke out there folks. We must reset how we do things, because a lot of the old behaviors are not tolerated anymore. New COVID variant, new rules, new year. New you?

Today's decisions affect your tomorrows. It’s time to be humble, take a step back, and lean on your beliefs and old-fashioned common sense while making your decisions. We will get through this, but we must truly work together with a new set of rules that will help keep us as safe as possible.

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The Leumas Security Services team thanks you for your support! We are taking a break, but we will be back on January 11th to launch a new year of blog posts on a new website. We look forward to you joining us there.

A variety of security-minded resources will remain available in my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot, and on our Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel.

We wish you a safe and Happy New Year!

Holiday Time Is A Good Time For A Security Check

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December 21, 2021

For many people, holiday time means some down time is planned. I hope that’s true for you.

I also hope your down time gives you a chance to consider the many ways of thinking and behaving that keep you safe during the holidays and all year long.

For example, stay as safe as possible as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Protect yourself and others by doing things like getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and physically distancing. If you must host or attend a holiday gathering, follow safety guidelines.

To our especially stressed health care workers and teachers, thank you for your hard work this year. We appreciate you!

We hope school and health care administrators plan to review their security procedures for more than COVID as the year comes to an end. Cyber criminals and bullies, violent criminals, thieves, and other threats are going with us into the new year. Make sure you are ready.

For example, are you ready for an active shooter situation? I found myself concerned about something like that happening at my daughter’s school because of a recent TikTok threat. It was not considered credible, but it came almost exactly 9 years after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. What if you find yourself near an active shooter at work or school? What will you do?

Here is the Department of Homeland Security’s quick list of practices for coping with an active shooter situation:

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.

  • Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.

  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door.

  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.

  • As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her.

  • Call 911 when it is safe to do so.

Make sure you know these guidelines, and every member of your family does as well. If you have school-age children, talk to school leaders about age-appropriate ways to make sure students feel safe but are prepared for the worst.

If you’re looking for resources that will help spark some new security ideas, check out my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot and videos on the Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel.

Have a safe and Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Is It Hard To Become An Armed Security Pro?

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December 14, 2021

Well-trained, armed private security professionals are always in demand. The more certifications and experience they have, the more money they can make.

Those who specialize in executive protection, often called bodyguards, can make even more money and are often glamorized in movies such as one of my favorites, The Bodyguard. I admit it, that film helped me describe how I would live out my childhood dreams of protecting people like my mother and grandmother.

How hard is it to become an armed security professional? That depends on you.

Here are 3 sets of tough questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you sure you want to be an armed security guard/professional? It can seem a lot more glamorous than it is. You could also find yourself in situations that may be more dangerous than an unarmed security role. Can you handle that? How do you handle stressful situations? You may wind up in more of them if you’re an armed security professional. Are you doing this work to serve people, or serve your ego? Be honest.

  • Are you ready, willing, and able to put in the work that is required to earn and maintain an armed certification? It doesn’t matter what you say you want. If you are an unarmed guard who wants to be armed, think about what your current supervisors and colleagues might say about you. Would they describe you as doing the least amount of work possible (lazy), sloppy (in appearance, paperwork), and often late for your shift? Then you may not be the top-notch security professional you think you are.

  • Can you be trusted with a firearm? Would someone describe you as a “gun nut,” and they are not giving you a compliment? Firearms are not toys. You must train on the firearm you own, keep it secure (especially if you have children in the home), and follow all of the firearms possession laws in the jurisdictions where you work.

Many people move into armed, private security from law enforcement or the military. If that is you, do not assume that you are automatically fit for armed, private security. You will have to make some shifts in your mindset and training.

No matter what experience you have, as an armed security professional you will always have to keep training and maintaining the appropriate certifications. You will also need to remember that you are also a public servant.

If you want to act like some type of gunslinger, go to acting school. I’ve seen plenty of movies featuring roles for them since I found my calling in The Bodyguard.

Check out my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot, which includes more information about the private security career path. I also invite you to subscribe to the Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel. I have posted videos talking about a wide variety of issues faced by armed and unarmed security professionals, and others who are security-minded.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

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December 7, 2021

Eighty years ago today, America was attacked at Pearl Harbor. It is important for us to remember the event that killed or injured thousands of Americans, got the US into World War II, and shaped history.

The theme for this year’s commemoration ceremony at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is valor, sacrifice, and peace. I am grateful to every American who has served to keep the peace around the world since that fateful day.

I am also grateful to professionals who work to keep the peace here at home, whether in the National Guard, law enforcement, or private security. Too many of those who serve us in any capacity do it at great personal sacrifice.

If you know someone who works to keep the peace, to keep us safe, take a moment today to let them know how valuable they are, especially during this season when we often pray for peace.

If you are one of these people, Thank You.

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If you are thinking about moving from one peacekeeping or security profession into another, there is a lot to consider. My book Rent-A-Cop Rebootand the videos on the Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel provide information that can help you make your best decision.

Getting Through Another Pandemic Holiday Season

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November 30, 2021

Just as we’re heading into the busiest part of the holiday season, another variant of COVID-19 is threatening to worsen the pandemic. It could also worsen the grief that many of us have been dealing with.

The pandemic has become part of all of us. For most people, COVID-19 has taken loved ones, opportunities, or lifestyles. In the U.S., the last 20 months have also been rocked by almost constant broadcasts of political unrest like the January 6th Capitol insurrection, demonstrations for racial equity, and racially-chargedcourtcases.

But please, don’t give up. Deal with your grief and overwhelm this holiday season by doing things like acknowledging your feelings, including fear, and reducing your stress levels with self-care activities.

I’ve never seen so much fear, and as a Black man I find it especially troubling. The careless disregard for black people’s lives has taken a toll on me, and I’m sure people like me, who are simply living as a Black person in America. We work, love our family members, study, speak up when we feel we’ve been wronged, and go jogging. And it can get us killed. The feeling of security as a Person of Color is hard to come by.

But we must all be aware of the emotional toll this point in history may be taking on us. When we’re aware, we can work through our grief in a healthy way. Everyone may need a “reboot” to help cope with our present situation. I’m a security professional, but I know from personal and professional experience that your emotional health can severely impact you and your success if you don’t reboot.

I talked about some of the ways I’ve dealt with challenges on “The Gatekeeper” episode of the Grace 4 Purpose Podcast, which will be available after 11:00 a.m. ET today.

I also share ways I have dealt with trying times, including my cancer treatment, in videos on the Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel and in my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot.

Choose to take care of yourself today. Why? Because you can have a better tomorrow, and today’s decisions affect your tomorrows.

Have A Safe And Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2021
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November 23, 2021

Of course, as far as I’m concerned, a safe Thanksgiving is a Happy Thanksgiving.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, no matter what it may take to make that happen. I especially want security, law enforcement, and health care professionals who will work through the holiday to have peaceful shifts. If they’re not peaceful, I hope they’re manageable and all goes well.

No matter who you are and what you do for a living, I invite you to take a few minutes to check out some of the videos on the Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel during this holiday period.

The videos address a variety of issues you may face this holiday season, including:

  • Challenges to your patience while shopping and/or dealing with customer service.

  • Additional or new security screenings while you travel.

  • Losing sleep while trying to complete your home and work responsibilities.

  • Finding new ways security (and other) professionals can leave work problems outside of their home.

Issues addressed in the videos are based on material in my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot. Planning to reboot your career in the New Year? Rent-A-Cop Reboot is a great resource, even if you are not a security professional. In the book I share many of the experiences I’ve had that have taught me a major lesson: Today’s decisions affect your tomorrows.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rittenhouse Decision

Rittenhouse Cleared

Image: AP

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November 20, 2021

The decision in the case of Kyle Rittenhouse has opened doors for “open carry” situations for people who are underage. While I have many emotions about Rittenhouse’s trial, I’m mostly filled with questions about matters of law going forward.

My questions include:

  • Will certain states change gun laws when it comes to the ownership and use of semi-automatic weapons and hand guns?

  • Will a higher level of training be required for the ownership and use of semi-automatic weapons and handguns?

  • Will laws change regarding the type of handguns that are used, whether the person who fires the weapon is licensed or unlicensed?

  • Will a gun user’s age be a factor?

The question that breaks my heart the most at this moment: Will punishment for a crime where a gun is used boil down to the skin color of the person holding that weapon?

That last was an issue more than two decades ago regarding the disparity in sentencing for people caught with powder cocaine vs. crack cocaine. Crack was more associated with People of Color and carried much tougher sentences.

I was taught never to pick a fight with someone who feels they can put the law into their own hands. Were you? Are you a person who believes they can do what Rittenhouse did and take the law into his own hands and then kill those who confront you, and you can do it without punishment? Did our justice system just tell White men, again, that the law does not apply to them the same way it would have if a Black man had done the same thing?

As a person who has dedicated his life to keeping people safe by making sure everyone operates within the boundaries of the law, I did not see Rittenhouse’s case as a complex one. This was a case of privilege that one has whether they were right or wrong.

When will our justice system be truly based on justice and not one decided by who you know and the color of your skin?

As an African American man I, like other People of Color in America, want to feel safe when I leave my home and exercise any of the rights the U.S. Constitution says that I have. Is that asking too much?

I can’t help but think what would have happened to me if I had done what Rittenhouse did, and I am a security professional who would have been much better prepared to be in that situation. Would I have even lived long enough to go to trial? Would I have been acquitted? I doubt it, and that’s the main problem.

When justice is truly served equally to all Americans we will have some peace.

Until then, sadly, “No Justice, no peace.”

How To Make More Money As A Security Guard

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November 16, 2021

The average security guard salary is about $14 an hour. You can make more money, but you have to do more than keep your uniform clean and make sure you’re well groomed.

Three things that can increase your value as a security professional are your background, your training, and your education.

Most guards, and many other professionals, will have to go through some type of background check. Make sure you live a lifestyle that allows you to pass one. Don’t use drugs or alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Don’t mix your substance use with firearm use. If you have a problem with substance use, get help. If you hang out with people who abuse drugs and alcohol, or who do not respect the rule of law, stop hanging out with them. Their behavior could put you in a situation that affects your clean record. These are practices to live by even after you’ve passed a background check, because you want to be able to keep passing to keep your certifications.

Training to earn additional certifications that give you additional opportunities to make money is a smart move. If you are an unarmed guard, train to serve as an armed guard, or to use a baton, or both. How about training to train other guards? You could also use your security-mindedness to move into the hot information technology (IT) field of cybersecurity.

If you want to move into law enforcement, especially at the federal level, you will benefit from higher education. Make sure you have, or get, a high school diploma or GED. After that, consider getting a college degree. Your area of study can vary, including accounting, criminal justice, or a foreign language.

I talk about many ways to raise your value—which raises your pay—as a security guard in my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot. Check it out today, because today’s decisions affect your tomorrows.

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Check out our videos about the security profession on the Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T For Security Professionals

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November 9, 2021

More than 50 years ago, Aretha Franklin gave many people a new way of thinking about respect. This year, Jennifer Hudson continued The Queen of Soul’s legacy in a film about her life.

For more than two decades, I’ve heard security professionals, especially guards, complain about how often people do not respect them. They get laughed at, ignored, and called rent-a-cops.

I wrote Rent-A-Cop Reboot to help change that type of thinking. Private security officers deserve better treatment—respect—from those they serve, and themselves.

The public needs to know that in many cases, especially at stores and apartment complexes, a security guard is the first person on the scene when they need help.

Security guards need to remember that they provide a valuable service, even if they only do the work for a short time. They should be proud of that. Guards must make sure their pride shows up in everything from their professional appearance to their updated training.

In this week’s video (above) I talk more about why it’s important to give guards some r-e-s-p-e-c-t, and how they can show the public that they deserve it.

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For more of my videos covering a variety of security issues, check out the Leumas Publishing YouTube channel.

Taking Your Security Career To The Next Level

Rent-A-Cop Reboot p. 72
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November 2, 2021

Are you working as a security guard to make some money for a while? Are you just starting out as a guard as a way into the security profession? If so, I hope you’re thinking about ways to take full advantage of your career options.

In Rent-A-Cop Reboot, I wrote about some of the positions a well-trained, unarmed guard can move into. They include:

  • Armed security guard.

  • Armed driver or courier.

  • Bail enforcement agent (also called a bounty hunter).

  • Executive protection (also called a bodyguard).

  • Private investigator (also called a private detective).

Additional training and certifications are needed to fill these important roles, and your ongoing training may help you move up the career ladder in a reasonable amount of time. The security roles I mentioned may also give you a strong security background that will help you stand out in a crowd of people moving into law enforcement, or the growing field of cybersecurity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given many people the opportunity to decide what they really want to do with their lives. If you have always wanted to help people stay safe, security could be the career for you. Plus, great security professionals are always in demand.

Take a few minutes here today to see if you’re ready to become a security professional.

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Check out our videos about the profession, and a variety of security issues, on the Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel!

The Blessings Of A "Plan B" For Your Business

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October 26, 2021

I know the last 19 months have been really tough for most of us, but I’m finding something to be thankful for every day. Are you?

I’m thankful to be alive! This time last year I was wondering if I’d live to see my next birthday, because I’d just been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. Thank God I got great treatment, and I’m in remission. It was not easy, especially during a pandemic. But I’m alive!

The miracles that brought me to this moment taught me a lot. I talk briefly about them in this week’s video. I am clearer than ever about the importance of my faith, my wife, my team, and my business practices.

My most powerful business practice is my belief in Plan B. B = Backup. You need a backup plan, because you never know when life is going to hit you with the unexpected. Like a pandemic and cancer sandwich.

Throughout my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot, I wrote about regular practices that support your success, whether you’re a business owner or not. They include keeping your:

  • Vehicle in good shape. If you don’t use your own vehicle to get to work, always have more than one way to get there.

  • Body in shape. Make time for healthy meals, appropriate exercise, and enough sleep.

  • Weapon secured. If you own a firearm, make sure it is properly licensed, locked up when not in use (especially if children are in your home), and you are well trained on how to use it.

  • Work ethic. Arrive on time and ready to work, use your best judgement when following policies and procedures, keep up with your training, and provide great customer service. Good customer service gets more valuable every day.

If you are running your own business, or thinking about it, practices that covered my butt over the last year included:

  • Do what you love. When cancer treatment drained my energy, I found more strength to keep going because I’m passionate about what I do. If you’re not doing what you love, find a way to add your special energy to your work until you can move on.

  • Have insurance. Make time to learn about the types of insurance you should have based on your business. Large, small, or freelance, you need insurances covering everything from liability to health. It can hurt to pay those premiums, but it hurts a lot more to not have coverage when you need it.

  • Pay your taxes. And do it on time.

  • Stay in touch with your creditors. When you are in the habit of paying your bills and insurance premiums on time, when times are tough your creditors are more likely to work with you. At least for a while. And when you need their help, get in touch with them as soon as possible. Your problems just get bigger when you don’t face them.

The best way to face your problems is to plan for them. You know they’re coming, so be ready with your Plan B.

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Check out all of our videos on the Leumas Publishing YouTube Channel!

Patience

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October 19, 2021

In Rent-A-Cop Reboot, I wrote that the ultimate form of customer service that a security professional provides is when they’re more concerned about a client’s safety than the contract specifies.

There are many ways for working people to provide good customer service, which is more important than ever since the pandemic.

In this week’s video, I talk about being a customer who had a l o n g wait. In the end, I got what I went for. The key to that experience was patience, the customer service representative’s and mine.

The pandemic has changed customer service in many industries. In some cases that has meant better service for customers. But some industries, such as food service and retail, have struggled. They have faced problems staying staffed-up and securing supplies, so workers who are left to deal with the customers often pay the price.

It is hard to patiently serve a customer who treats you terribly. Many workers have horror stories about how poorly they have been treated by customers and how much it hurt them, and not just emotionally. Airlines have dealt with so many passenger problems that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is asking airlines to do more about the problem. One airline suggested a universal "no-fly" list of passengers who cause problems. Some experts say history could play a role in the way customers feel that they have a right to treat service workers poorly.

What role do your values play in how you treat people? Is your behavior toward others when times get tough a good reflection of your faith tradition? What does it say about the way you were raised?

Whether you are the customer or person providing the service, check your real feelings about those questions. Find ways of relieving whatever stress drives you to mistreat other members of your human family. Put down some of your troubles so you can pull up your patience.

Courage

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October 12, 2021

To security, law enforcement, health care, and education professionals who put the needs of others ahead of themselves every day … Thank you! To those of you who are not in those professions, but you provide important services that make other people’s lives easier (like truck drivers, and workers in grocery, restaurant, and sanitation services) … Thank you!

There are many of you, and what you do takes courage. For some of your careers, the pandemic has made your courage more obvious than ever before.

Good training supports your courage. It allows you to effectively do your job and return home to your loved ones. Some call this luck. Others consider it a blessing. Whatever you believe, safely ending each day usually boils down to the training that you receive. It gives you the drive and confidence to do what you do on a daily basis.

Several years ago, I walked over 30 miles during a March in Atlanta with my client. This was by far my most dangerous assignment. My training gave me the courage to effectively do the job well, which could have included giving my life for my client.

But training alone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have what it takes to rush into a burning building, confront a criminal, or treat COVID-19 patients who may transmit the possibly deadly virus to you. Courage does that.

I have seen a lot of courage displayed by security officers who people might disrespectfully call a “flashlight cop,” or “rent-a-cop.” I mention one courageous story in the video above, and I call my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot to help people, including security professionals, rethink that disrespect. It is a more challenging job than most people might imagine, and with specialized training, guards may have the arrest authority and other powers usually associated with law enforcement.

Whatever you do, make sure you are trained in ways that allow you to always do your best. The courage is all you. Do you have enough?

Stay Alert!

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October 5, 2021

Wake up! You know who you are, just barely keeping your eyes open. Running on coffee and attitude. Security professional or not, you need to get enough sleep in order to keep yourself and other people safe. That’s especially important when you’re driving, which we need to think about as we head into the time of year when your sleep behavior is going to be tested.

I talk about sleep a lot, and I made sure that my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot mentioned how important it is to sleep. I want to talk about it again today, so you will have time to regulate your sleep behavior before Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on November 7th.

Before you know it, there will be more night hours, more people out during those hours, and more of them dressed so they’re hard to see. There may also be people behind the wheel who haven't done much night driving in a while because of the pandemic, so their skills aren't as sharp as they should be. You may be one of them.

Even if you work 9-5 you’re going to need to be attentive and alert, on the road and on the job. You can’t do that if you’re fighting your body’s natural need for sleep.

Drowsy driving is dangerous driving, certainly for teens and other less experienced drivers, but it can be avoided.

First, change your attitude. I know what it’s like to jump into the car when you’re tired but thinking you can still handle a long drive, a long shift, or both. Check out the video (above). You can’t, so stop. Regularly doing that without getting enough sleep will break the most talented professional. I know there were times when I wasn’t as alert as I should have been. I dozed off all day long, and I leaned on over-the-counter stimulants to help me stay awake. There were times when I was so tired that it hurt!

I was blessed, because my dangerously drowsy driving could have hurt someone. Or worse.

Second, get some sleep. If it’s been a while since you had at least 7 hours of sleep several nights in a row (or days if you work at night), change that. Figure out what you need to do differently so you can rest. At least commit to getting more sleep ahead of the time change. If you have trouble sleeping because of a health problem like sleep apnea, see a medical professional.

Third, keep your safe driving skills sharp. This includes knowing your drowsy driving behaviors (constant blinking, can’t remember the last few minutes, etc.) and planning to reach your destination by midnight when possible. Plus, don’t stay up late the week DST ends, avoid long and/or rural highways when you can, and slow down.

If you still wind up behind the wheel when you’re drowsy, take a break. I know you feel that push to reach your destination. But making time to stretch your legs or take a 20-minute nap could save your career, your life, or someone else’s.

Today’s sleep decisions affect your tomorrows.

Smile For The Camera?

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September 28, 2021

Last week I talked about your focus. Don’t lose it! Today, I want you to think about what’s focused on you: cameras. Almost everywhere.

I travel to New York City a lot, where the transportation authority recently announced that they have thousands of cameras throughout the subway system. They say the cameras helped the number of major felonies on the system go down and the number of arrests go up.

One study shows that New York has one of the highest concentrations of surveillance cameras of several major cities around the world. Estimates of the number of surveillance cameras in use don’t even include police body cameras, or cameras people have attached to their doorbells and other parts of their home. Plus, almost everyone with a cell phone has a camera that may be recording you at any time!

How do you feel about the fact that you may be on camera from the minute you step outside?

Some people are very concerned about surveillance camera systems run by governments and businesses. These systems may not be as good at deterring crime as they are at punishing perpetrators after the fact, and it can cost a lot of money to buy, install, and maintain some of them.  On top of that, camera surveillance systems may be used in ways that violate human rights.

I think governments and businesses can get more for their money by hiring more security guards. Someone with crime on their mind is less likely to try it when they see a well-trained guard nearby. A security professional is more visible than most cameras, and can quickly respond to keep a bad situation from happening. Plus, many security guards live in the region where they work. So when governments and businesses hire a guard, they’re putting money into the hands of a local person who will spend it locally.

I think cameras can be an important part of a smart security system, and you will definitely see more of them. That means you will have to think about maintaining your privacy since you won’t know who may be watching. However, the situation may not be all bad. Some people have found pictures of dearly departed loved ones on Google Maps.

If you are a security professional with less than 3 years of experience, and you want to be at the top of your game when you’re on camera—or the cameras fail—check out my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot. It’s an entertaining read filled with the kind of information and real-life stories I wish I’d had when I started in the business.

Don't Lose Focus

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September 21, 2021

I have to travel more by plane these days, which your can see in the video above, and that has me thinking more about sleep, fitness, and my past health behaviors. In part of Rent-A-Cop Reboot, I wrote about how I would go to work when I was sick and in pain. I really thought I was Superman, but my focus should have been on my health.

Apparently I’m not alone. For example, the CDC recently reported that obesity is increasing in the US. We already know obesity raises your risk of having other chronic health conditions, but we now know that it can also raise your chances of getting seriously ill if you get COVID-19.

While we’re in this crazy time of watching COVID infections and deaths rise, but we have more in-person work days and people resisting pandemic-fighting protocols, I want you to remember this: Don’t lose focus!

Don’t lose focus on your health or your dreams. These things are related. It’s a lot easier to reach your dreams if you’re healthy.

Don’t do like I did and keep grabbing burgers and ignoring salads. Don’t ignore excessive drinking, excessive weight gain, or crash dieting for excessive weight loss. Don’t go right from the couch to an intense exercise program. Nobody can effectively work that way.

Make lifestyle changes and make them permanent, especially if you’ve tried and failed at dramatic changes before. Don’t be a living example of the old saying about insanity, which is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Do consider your surroundings, the places you go and the people you’re with. They can also determine who you become in life, what your future looks like. Do care for and value your mental health as much as you do your physical health.

Keep your focus! Get clear about your long-term goals and dreams, and don’t let anything stop you from reaching them. Make the changes you need to live the life you want. Commit to regularly practicing those changes, and they will become natural to you. With practice you will become perfect at your God-given gift.

Campus Safety

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Image: Shutterstock​

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September 14, 2021

Many of us are concerned about whether college and university students will get COVID-19 at school and then spread it across campus, in the wider community, or both. These concerns make sense, because the pandemic has claimed more than 658,000 lives in the US. Fortunately, there are safety guidelines these institutions can tailor to fit their needs.

But this time of year has been dangerous for women on campus since long before COVID-19. August to November is when about 50% of campus sexual violence incidents take place. It’s called the “red zone,” and here is a very informative article about it.

If you, or someone you know, is on a college campus right now, tell them to be security-minded. They can be a student, staff, or faculty member. If they live or work near a college or university they should also be mindful of their safety.

Women should be especially careful about how much they have to drink, not leaving a drink unprotected, and clearly saying no when they don’t want to stay in a situation where they are not comfortable. Find more safety tips here.

Men can also be victims of sexual assault, so believe and support a man who reports being attacked. And, as I wrote in Rent-A-Cop Reboot, anyone can have a stalker. Watch out for a person who goes to extremes to get close to you physically, emotionally, or virtually.

No matter who you are, you must have escape plans for a variety of situations. At the heart of your plans will be your ability to:

  • Trust your instincts. If your “gut” says the situation is not right, get out of it immediately.

  • Know what you’ll say. Whether you’re security-minded or a security professional, knowing what to say and how to say it at the right time can be a life-saver when you’re in a potentially dangerous situation. If you have to, write a few short phrases and practice saying them out loud.

  • Keep your phone charged. If you need to call for help you’ll be ready.

  • Have a lifeline. A family member, friend, teacher, or school staff person who you are sure you can trust to discuss your thinking when you consider getting into a particular situation or relationship. Also speak to this person about how to handle it if you have questions, or they will be available to help you deal with things if anything goes wrong.

If anything does go wrong, every university has police, counseling, and other resources you can go to for help. Use them.

To have a great college experience you do not have to attend every party, do a lot of drinking, or experiment with drugs. You also don’t have to agree to social or personal experiences that you don’t feel ready for. Your top 2 words: Study and Safety. Anything else is extra credit.

Do You Have What It Takes?

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September 7, 2021

I call my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot because that’s what needs to be done with the way we think about private security professionals, especially guards. We, including many of the guards themselves, must reboot the way we view the essential service security guards provide.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop was a fun movie, but security guards can quickly find themselves in serious life-or-death situations. For example, in July a security guard in Tacoma, Washington, was brutally killed by a member of the Army. Memphis security guards have recently made news for both killing and saving lives.

Security guard training and certification requirements can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, sometimes making it hard to get a good start in the business. But as I say in the video above: Don’t stop going after the career of your dreams, in security or any other field. The world may need you.

When it comes to security, the world definitely needs it provided by people who are ready, willing, and able to provide high-quality services. Are you one of them?

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you committed to learning? The best guards regularly read the policies, procedures, and regulations of their companies and work sites. They also study ways to improve their performance, and they stay informed about the people and communities they serve. You never know when your knowledge, training, and instincts will come together to serve you on the job.

  • Are you a good communicator? Security professionals do their best to make sure they are understood, when speaking or writing. Ask yourself a question you’ll find on Page 9 of Rent-A-Cop Reboot: “Can you make sure the person you’re speaking to hears your care as much as your command?” If you must approach someone on the job and you immediately boss them around or act aggressively, then depending on the situation, your communication style may not be right for this work.

  • Are you willing to practice? You can improve your communication skills, and other skills you need for security work, with practice. Ask a seasoned security professional, supportive manager or colleague, or an honest friend, to help you assess your skills. Based on their feedback and what you know about yourself, find resources that work for you—books, magazines, videos, training courses, etc.—and practice the appropriate skills.

I hope you think you’ve got what it takes to succeed as a security professional. Dig a little deeper with our quick quiz, here.

If you don’t want to make security a lifelong career you can still get a lot out of it. Security helps you fine-tune valuable professional skills such as showing up on time, customer service, and earning a professional credential. Plus, since shifts are often available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, there are many opportunities to make money. This is especially true as you get more experience and let people see your professionalism. But, never work just for the money. Find something about it to love.

I love the private security industry! It has made it possible for me to keep people safe, know my strengths, and run a business. In other words, live my dreams. What are your dreams? Whatever they are, some part of the security business can help you turn them into reality.

Security State Of Mind

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Mom at Book Warehouse
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August 31, 2021

What inspires you? I was inspired to become a security professional by my need to keep the women in my life safe. First it was my mother and grandmother, now my wife and daughter. I thought about what inspires me when I recently heard the Jay-Z hit song featuring Alicia Keys,

Empire State of Mind.”

For almost as long as I can remember, I have had a security state of mind. I want more people today to have a security state of mind, because I know it can help them live their dreams.

I talk about security-mindedness whenever anyone will listen, that energy flows throughout my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot, and that’s what I talked about this past Sunday at the Book Warehouse in the Williamsburg (Virginia) Premium Outlets.

There are plenty of quick, easy ways you can show your security-mindedness without being a security professional. Here are a few:

  • Help slow the resurgence of COVID-19. Follow the latest guidance from health professionals. For example, wear a mask when you are indoors in public spaces, especially if there are large numbers of people.

  • Get pandemic-updated back-to-school tips. For students of every age and ability, this year may mean being more aware of everything from mental health challenges to the weather. Check national safety ideas and keep monitoring your local situation.

  • Prepare for storms. Speaking of the weather, the height of the 2021 hurricane season is still weeks away but is expected to be as powerful as last year. Look at the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida. Some areas may also face other weather-related emergencies. Plan to handle possible power outages, flooding, and the need to quickly leave your home if necessary.

  • Know the exits. If you are going into more public spaces now than you have been over the past 17 months, make sure you know where the exits are and how to use them. Even if you are back in a once-familiar office, it may have been redesigned, or you may have forgotten emergency exit procedures.

  • Check your first aid kit. Helping someone, or getting help, as soon as possible after an injury can save precious time, money, and possibly a life. A well-stocked first aid kit can help you do that. Here’s a great list of reasons why first aid is important.

  • Make entry lighting functional and beautiful. Whether you live in a mansion or small apartment, make sure there is plenty of lighting at every entryway. It can encourage some criminals to avoid your home, and you may be less likely to fall and hurt yourself because you could not see.

My bottom line: Security starts in your mind. Even the actions I listed above start with you thinking about keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. Keep up the good work!

We have no relationship with any company linked to in this post.

Keeping Kids Safe

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August 17, 2021

One of last week’s most heartbreaking events was the accidental shooting of a young mother during a Zoom meeting. The shooter was her own toddler, who found the loaded, unsecured gun in the home. It’s estimated that more than 4 million children live in similar situations with guns, which can, unfortunately, turn deadly. They can also be avoided.

If you are going to exercise your right to own a firearm, also exercise the responsibility. In Rent-A-Cop Reboot I mention properly storing your weapon, keeping it locked, and making sure you are trained to use the weapon you actually own.

The main reason for owning a firearm is to help you stay safe. You can’t be safe if you are not handling your weapon in a way that keeps your kids safe. What about any other child who plays with your children, nieces and nephews, or your grandchildren?

Keeping yourself and your family safe is a way of thinking more than a weapon. I talk more about being security-minded in the video above.

What are you thinking about as the new school year starts? Hopefully, you’re considering the many ways you can help keep kids safe as they return to classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are helpful school safety checklists with general information, as well as lists of special considerations during the pandemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vaccinations, mask-wearing, and physical distancing. However, make sure you regularly check the requirements in your state and local community, because they may change based on coronavirus data.

If you are not a parent, behaving in ways that keep kids safe keeps us all safe. Bullets and COVID do not care who you are. If they aren’t handled with a mindset of safety they can be deadly.

Live To Tell Your Story

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August 10, 2021

Here’s my big ask for today: Get vaccinated and wear your mask to slow the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. I know people who are not getting vaccinated and don’t wear masks have their reasons. But as someone who is rebuilding their life after colon cancer and has a young daughter, I’m asking anyone who can get the shot to do it and help us stay healthy.

I also want you to live long enough to have a lot of great stories to share with people who will want or need them. Too many of the people who recently lost their lives or were hospitalized with the Delta variant of the virus were not vaccinated.

Don’t take life for granted. The best thing about recently celebrating my 50th birthday surrounded by people I love was living long enough to enjoy that day. Every day is a blessing, especially if you work in a profession where you are at a higher risk of losing your life or becoming disabled. Or, you enjoy activities like rock climbing, surfing, or driving. Yes, driving.

I am passionate about security, but I’ve always known that at any minute I could face someone who was not afraid to force Judgement Day on my client and take me with them. So, living long enough to share some of the many experiences I’ve had is another great thing about my life right now.

In Rent-A-Cop Reboot, I tell several true stories about situations I faced, and the lessons I learned from them. The Judgement Day scenario? Page 45, also mentioned in the video above. A major lesson from that experience? The power of my faith.

I have faith that there are many Americans out there who care enough about others that they will trust reputable sources of COVID-19 information and do what’s necessary to keep us all safe. I pray that those who don’t get vaccinated or wear a mask will stay away from environments where they may get infected, or infect someone else. Many Americans disagree about these protocols, but non-partisan, scientific evidence shows that they work.

For people healthy enough to be vaccinated who disagree, I hope they will do what needs to be done anyway. Let’s let COVID die down, not hundreds-of-thousands more of us, so there will be enough of us around to argue about later while sharing stories about how we lived through this.

*****

Another special note about Rent-A-Cop Reboot: Thank You to two Barnes & Noble stores in the Richmond, Virginia, area that now carry the book. They are the Libbie Place store on West Broad Street, and in the Chesterfield Town Center store on Midlothian Turnpike.

Be Mindful When Flying

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August 3, 2021

Get those masks on when you’re indoors anywhere, even if you’ve had your COVID-19 vaccination. That’s the word now because of the increasing spread of the Delta variant of the virus. Pressure to get vaccinated and wear masks is only going to increase as we try to slow the spread of the pandemic, which has claimed more than 611,000 American lives.

Virus-fighting measures were on my mind as I masked up for a recent flight to New York City. The already tight Transportation Security Administration (TSA) procedures combined with pandemic protocols to make for some very uncomfortable moments at the airport.

I describe my airport security encounter in the video above.

While receiving my unwanted and too-close-for-comfort massage from the TSA agent, I remembered that I often ran through some of these same airport hallways while managing security for several significant players in the political and music industries. It was a blessing back in the day, like it was a blessing last week to go through security as a business owner, author of Rent-A-Cop Reboot, cancer survivor, husband, and father.

Blessings flow freely, but the travel process rarely does.

DON’T take for granted, especially if you work for yourself, that you can relax when traveling. Or that you run things. You should adhere to instructions given by train and airline staff. For your flight, getting to the airport at least two hours early is no joke. If you haven’t flown in a while, the updated rules and regulations will land you in longer lines for almost everything, and those guidelines might have changed between the time you booked your flight and when you’re ready for takeoff.

Know the rules and pack for them. If you’re flying, know what can go in your carry on and what must be checked. Ditching the plane for the train? Amtrak has baggage rules, too. So do Greyhound and Trailways bus companies, and you have to wear a mask on all of these forms of transportation.

Be mindful when you use any type of public transportation for any type of travel this summer. Read up on the rules, don’t rush, and remain calm—which I did when confronted at the airport—so you can use your valuable time to relax and stay focused before and during your trip.

Get The Career You Want And Keep It

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July 27, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to look closely at their health and realize how much it meant to them. A lot of people did the same thing with their jobs and realized how little the job meant.

So, millions of people have been switching careers. They want more out of what they do for a living, and many of them have seen what can be done better and demand whatever changes they can get. Workers like those in the restaurant industry, for example, may have gotten wage increases, but they still handle hard work and want customers to be more understanding. Which they should be.

If you’re thinking about switching into the security profession, or any line of work that you want to make a long-term career, don’t forget something very important: your background.

In order to get, keep, or advance in whatever career you choose, you may need to get a background check. That is certainly true for people in security and law enforcement.

You also need to make sure you don’t lie on your application or résumé, get arrested, or regularly complain about your current employer on social media.

Speaking of social media, don’t share the worst aspects of yourself there. Few employers will welcome you to their payroll if your social media accounts are filled with pictures of you drunk or using drugs, participating in racist and sexist activities, or any other type of behavior they might find morally distasteful. You may not agree with your current or future employer’s thinking, but they sign your paycheck. Even if you are an entrepreneur, your clients may also disagree with your publicized behavior.

Thinking of getting a new tattoo? You might want to think twice about that, too, or at least where it is located. Tattoos are much more acceptable than they used to be, but your new career may not be as accepting of very visible body art as your old one. Or your too-visible body parts.

In Rent-A-Cop Reboot I encourage you to think about these types of things as you move up in the security profession, but anyone climbing a career ladder could be helped by keeping these things in mind.

A lot is changing these days, including what is considered professional behavior and clothing. It can be hard to keep up, but one thing will always be true: Today’s decisions affect your tomorrows.

Get Some Exercise...And Rent-A-Cop Reboot In More Virginia Stores!

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July 20, 2021

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been talking about how your health is part of your security. That’s really important now that COVID-19 deaths and infections are rising again. The healthier we are, the better we are positioned to live in a world struggling to emerge from the pandemic.

Last week I talked about sleep. This week I want us to focus on exercise.

We all know exercise is important, but it’s hard to stay motivated enough to keep doing it. That's if we can even get started. So stop thinking of it as exercise.

If you are a security professional, think about exercise as taking care of life-saving equipment. That equipment is your body. You may need your strength, which supports your ability to think clearly, while handling a situation. In the last week, security guards have made headlines for being attacked, and for using a weapon during an altercation that resulted in the loss of a life. I am not commenting on any aspect of those specific cases, but I point them out to remind you that security work is important and sometimes dangerous. You need to be at your best.

No matter who you are, you may want to remember that exercise can be fun. Make time for activities like walking, dancing, or riding a bicycle. They’ll get you moving, and it won’t feel like a chore. Be careful if you decide to workout in the heat. A quick search online will give you examples of virtual workouts you can do indoors, as well as workouts you can do with your children.

Don’t forget to exercise your mind and spirit as well. Make time for things like:

*Having regular meals with your family.

*Spending time with loved ones without constantly checking your phone, or handling work. How about creating Game Night, Craft Night, or Pizza Night?

*Saying, “I love you” to those you cherish.

*Making birthdays and holidays special.

*Learning what your gift is, and using it to be a blessing to others.

*Learning the difference between your “wants” and your “needs,” so you can live a simpler life.

*Cleaning and organizing your home and/or your work space.

*Giving to your community. The greatest gifts we can give are simple acts of kindness.

*Appreciating what you have, especially if you (and those you care about) are healthy.

*Praying and/or meditating.

Dealing with the pandemic, keeping the business going, publishing Rent-A-Cop Reboot, taking care of my family, and going through cancer treatment—all at the same time—made most of the past year more than I would wish on my worst enemy. But God! I’m here to tell you to trust and believe, but also do the work.

God gave you an incredible body. Show your appreciation today by finding one small way to take better care of it.

*****

More good news about Rent-A-Cop Reboot on sale in selected Virginia Barnes & Noble stores! In addition to the book being at the Barnes & Noble in Newport News, you can now find it at these stores: Chesterfield Towne Center, Hampton's Peninsula Town Center,  Libbie Place Shopping Center in Richmond, and New Town Shops in Williamsburg. Thank you for helping us spread the word about what we designed to be a valuable resource for security professionals, career-switchers, and people thinking about starting their own business.

Get Some Shut-Eye

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July 13, 2021

Whether you are a security professional, solo-preneur, or stay-at-home parent - or whatever you do - you need a good night’s sleep. Every night.

A new study released last week showed that not only will missing one night of sleep hurt your sense of physical and mental well-being, but adults who don’t get the recommended 7 hours of sleep for at least 3 nights in a row will feel even worse.

The need for security professionals to get a good night’s sleep comes up more than once in my book, Rent-A-Cop Reboot. I understand the hustle that guards and a lot of other people go through, but I promise you that you will not be as effective as you think you will be if you are not well rested.

Lack of sleep will slow your reaction times and make it hard for you to pay attention, which is twice as bad if you’re “drowsy driving” to work. When you need sleep it will be harder to stay awake, no matter what time you are working. It will be harder to make good, quick decisions. It will be harder to understand what people are saying to you and to respond appropriately. In the security profession, these types of missteps could cost you your job, or worse.

Add to lack of sleep a couple of days without a nutritious meal, and you have a recipe for disaster. Even if you don’t make a mistake on the job in the near future, believe me when I say that regularly missing good nights of sleep will show up some day and in some way.

Make sure you get the sleep you need. If you have children, especially young ones, make sure they are getting good sleep, too, to avoid future health issues. If there are serious sleep problems, talk to your health care professional.

We have a lot of decisions to make as the nation moves into more face-to-face experiences since the pandemic began, and the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads in areas with low vaccination rates. You make better decisions when your mind and body are in top shape. Getting 7 hours of shut-eye every night is one of the easiest ways to shape up.

Today’s sleep decisions affect your tomorrows.

*****

Special note about Rent-A-Cop Reboot: We are proud to announce that the book is on sale at the Barnes & Noble in Newport News, Virginia!  Thanks to the support of visionary Barnes & Noble staff members and people like you, we look forward to additional stores in our home state adding the book to their shelves. We'll keep you posted.

Health Is Security

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June 29, 2021

I know I’m blessed. Too many African American men are struck down in the prime of their lives by colon cancer. Today I am in remission, and I’m very clear about the fact that health is security, and security is health.

Consider your health as you handle your responsibilities this week. Do you have enough masks and gloves? Many places still require masks of certain workers in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Yes, places are opening up, some places want workers to get vaccinated (which they can do), and people are taking vacations. But COVID’s still working. I require Leumas Security Services guards to wear masks while on duty in public spaces, especially if they are indoors.

To my security professionals: I want you to take every precaution you can to maintain your health.

Once you have COVID handled while working at, for example a club or special event, figure out how you’re going to effectively handle people who take things too far. For some of them, it’s been two years since they fully enjoyed the summer. They may have been struggling to manage COVID-related stress, and they need to blow off some steam.

If someone blows off too much steam, I have a tip in this week’s video (above) that can help you deal with the person. No matter where you are, always be prepared for someone who may violently react to your presenceor instructions. Unfortunately, you don’t know if they really share your goal: for everyone to return home as healthy as they were when they left.

It’s easier to meet that goal when you start your shift as physically and emotionally healthy as possible. I learned a lot about the importance of self-care while working personal protection and nightclubs. There were times when my bad day turned into the club’s good night, because I was extra hard on people who didn’t act right while I was on duty.

That doesn’t have to be your situation. I share a lot of what I learned during speaking engagements, consultations, and in my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot. Trust me. Decide today to do what you can to stay healthy, because today’s decisions affect your tomorrows.

It's Party Time ... Sort Of

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June 22, 2021

Millions of people across the U.S. are getting out to enjoy the first full summer since vaccines seem to have COVID-19 against the ropes. But stay careful. The pandemic has still claimed more than 601,000 lives in the U.S., and counting.

If you do decide to go out, especially to a bar or club, don’t let your hair down so much that you wind up in a situation that requires security to react.

If you are a security professional, I want you to be extra careful working a club these days. A recent incident in a D.C. club shows you why, and inspired me to record this week's video (above). I don’t want to comment on how anyone not working for me does their job, but I do want to remind guards that professional is a valuable part of the phrase security professional. If you are dragging a woman down the stairs by her hair, a lot of things have gone wrong for someone who considers themselves a security professional.

When the woman was dragged down the stairs, reports state that it was a case of mistaken identity. That is more common than you may realize. I can’t count how times someone thought they had on a fresh, new outfit only to find at least one other person at the club wearing it. I’ve seen people go home because too many people were wearing the same thing they were. If you have to put your hands on someone, make sure it’s the right person.

Don’t drink on the job! You may be surprised by the number of times you are offered a free drink. You need to stay ready to handle the people out partying who have had too much to drink, or whatever.

You will see people act out of character. Some will be nice drinkers and others are mean drunks. When you need to get someone out, try talking them out first. I always say, and I repeated it in my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot, that your mouth is your best weapon. But only when you’re in your sober mind. Yes, there are times when talking someone out turns into taking them out. Taking a patron out of the club with a second guard is always your best move, because alcohol or whatever other drug they used may give the individual extraordinary strength. In most cases I’ve seen, the individual can’t feel any pain when you are breaking up a fight or defending your life.

This brings me back to one of my favorite subjects: training. Working in a club, or a club-like environment, can be tricky. It takes more than a strong body and what you know from working retail security.

Your club training should include mandatory time with a partner who is a seasoned club security officer. They may not wear a full uniform, but they are trained to be able to handle situations where they have to be hands-on with a member of the public. Well-trained club security professionals know how to handle the fast-paced, sometimes aggressive environment they may face. They are not only good at hand-to-hand combat and dealing with crowds, but they also know when and how to talk someone down.

The best club security professionals are always on their A game. They’re focused on making sure patrons are having a safe, good time. If you can’t do that, you can’t do the work. If you have a problem at home, don’t take it out on someone with “liquid courage” that gives them a Superman-like attitude.

The police are rarely called when alcohol is involved, unless a fight breaks out. Most clubs want to deal with the matter internally with things like banning an individual from the establishment. Your professionalism will make the difference in how everyone’s night turns out, so remember to treat others the way you would want to be treated. Always!

Father's Day Miracle

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June 8, 2021

I truly feel that living to see this upcoming Father’s Day, the second during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a miracle. In the video I briefly shared some of my reflections about the past year, especially my concerns about my daughter. Keeping her safe in all environments is my priority, as well as her mental health.

My wife and I were grateful for the remote learning that made it possible for us to be together while I underwent colon cancer treatment in New York, but it was hard for our daughter. We spent several weeks at a time away from our Virginia home, school friends became tiny boxes on a tablet screen, and daddy was very sick.

Even when chemotherapy had me down, my daughter was on my mind. We worked with our New York family members, who graciously opened their home to us, on ways to strengthen some of their security measures. But no lock could shut out the fear I saw many nights in my daughter’s eyes when she thought the cancer would kill me. I must admit that I sometimes thought the same thing.

My focus for the past year has been to reach another Father’s Day, and I’ve wanted to start the day holding my daughter and wife in my arms and say…. Well, if you haven’t already watched the video, check it out to hear me share the words of my recent dreams.

Are you a father who dreams of always keeping his family secure? I want to remind you to always remember some of the basics mentioned in Rent-A-Cop Reboot when you leave home: lock doors and windows, secure firearms if you own any, and check lights and alarm systems to make sure they are in working order.

In addition, be grateful for your family and everyone who helps you support them. In my case, that includes an amazing medical team, loving family members and friends, and skillful Leumas Security Services team members.

To all of you who “father” children, whether you are a biological father or not, Happy Father’s Day!

Self-Care

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June 1, 2021

What are you doing to take care of yourself? If you work closely with others, are you finding ways to show that you care about them, too?

Some experts say mental health issues and the pandemic may help explain how we wound up with two U.S. workplace shootings in as many months, the most recent taking place last week in San Jose. Like most people, I was shocked and saddened by the incident as well as the high number of mass shootings since the beginning of the year. And the tragic number continued to rise over the weekend when there was another deadly, mass shooting in Miami.

I couldn’t help but wonder if there are ways we can all take better care of ourselves, and our coworkers?

There were reports that the San Jose shooter hated his workplace, had a disciplinary meeting scheduled for that day, and had other problems. These reports filled my mind with many questions: Did this man feel supported enough to get help dealing with his anger? Did his coworkers recognize signs of his problems? If so, was there a way they could support him built into the employment system? Would an active shooter plan have made a difference the morning of the attack? Should we all be more aware of how to behave in active shooter situations as we get back into workplaces and public spaces that may attract someone with a problem and a gun?

How do you feel about your job? If you’re not happy, are you letting that feeling affect how you perform? Do you work with someone who hates the workplace, or is feeling emotional or financial pressures? Are those types of pressures affecting you? Do you know how to get help, or help someone else, in your workplace setting?

Reach out for help. It can be for professional mental health support, or guidance available from your human resources department. Take some time off. This is especially important if you are a private security professional who often spends long periods of time working alone, having to be the “bad guy” in a variety of settings. I offer the same advice to law enforcement, social services, and other professionals who tend to see a lot of people on their worst day.

Throughout Rent-A-Cop Reboot I remind security professionals about the benefits of sleep, good meals, exercise, and even wearing the right clothes. I also want you to know that it is OK to reach out for mental health support. It is not a sign of weakness. Only the strongest people have what it takes to take on their toughest opponent: themselves.

Take The Time, Do It Right.

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Image: Shutterstock​

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May 25, 2021

Sometimes, whether you want to or not, you have to take a step back. That can mean getting some sleep, taking some time off of work (use that hard-earned vacation time!), or pausing for a few seconds when you’re dealing with someone.

That pause may only last a few seconds, but it can be enough to de-escalate a tough situation. A disagreement with a loved one or coworker may end better if you take the time to slow things down. A security encounter can end better, too.

I have been saying for years, and have stressed in my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot and the April 27th blog post, that it is incredibly important for security and law enforcement professionals to know how to slow things down in ways that can help de-escalate a situation. I am passionate about this!

If you are a security guard, I understand that there can be times when you pause to decide how to handle a situation, and your decision gets negative feedback. During the COVID-19 era this can be especially difficult. You may also handle a situation fairly well, such as someone’s removal from a public place, and get hurt. The bottom line is you do a sometimes dangerous but incredibly valuable job. But I am convinced that the more you add de-escalation to your security training, the more likely you are to regularly make it home at the end of your shift.

In California, Assembly Bill 229 would add more de-escalation and other training for security guards there. A recent newspaper editorial supported the bill following a deadly encounter between an individual and private security, stating that “state laws require as little as 32 hours of training to get a license to be a security guard and eight hours a year afterward, and don’t require training on safely restraining people. That is unacceptable.” Some states require even less.

Start practicing de-escalation in all areas of your life. Do you often feel road rage or regularly drive aggressively? Do you have a short temper, or little patience when dealing with others? Try paying attention the next time you feel yourself flying into one of these states. Take a few long breaths. Ask yourself why the situation bothers you so much, and how much of it is in your control. What can you safely and responsibly do about the parts you can control?

Many security and law enforcement professionals face these challenges simply because they feel exhausted and overwhelmed. I really get it. You’re probably going to have to face this stuff at some point. Do it on the front end in terms of rest and training before you burn out, or you make a decision that costs you your career or your life. As the old song says, “Take the time, do it right.”

Commencement

Sam & Imani NYC
Sam leaves Sloan Kettering
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May 18, 2021

I like how commencement means both a beginning and an ending. This is the season for commencements across the U.S., which mark the start of a new life as well as the end of a period of academic achievement.

I am having a bit of a commencement experience myself. This is my first full week at home in Virginia after completing the intense, initial phase of cancer treatment in New York. This experience is even sweeter since it comes shortly before my 50th birthday, which I thought I might never see.

On March 13th, 2020, when the nation shut down due to the COVID-19pandemic, my world went into a tailspin. As the pilot of my family, I braced my wife and our business for impact. There was no Standard Operating Procedure for handling a pandemic, and many companies seemed to have the motto of “everyone for themselves.” I understood. Many small businesses have closed, with Black-owned businesses being hardest hit by the pandemic's economic fallout. I didn’t want Leumas Security Services to completely shut down.

While we were implementing plans to survive COVID-19, I found myself not sleeping or eating. I was afraid that my nearly 30 years of being in business would soon end. We braced for impact, prayed, and counted on our experience to survive. Just as the tail spin was leveling out and we were completing my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot, I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I am a very private person, so I kept the diagnosis to myself for several months until I was convinced that sharing my experience could help someone else.

Helping others is what security work is really about, when it is done well. That is why I am so committed to it. It’s still a struggle to keep the business going since COVID and cancer, but I’ve learned a lot which I plan to keep in mind at the commencement of my next half century.

I’ve learned to slow down and rediscover the people and things that make me happy. I’m falling in love with my wife all over again. She has shared her pain while hanging tough throughout my recent scare. Strength is a very attractive trait for any man or woman to possess.

One of the greatest lessons of the first half century of my life came roaring back over the past year: don’t panic. As nervous as I became around this time last year, and when I found out about the cancer, I remembered that panic creates additional problems. Taking time to gather your thoughts helps you make better decisions and can help you reduce the levels of stress that raise blood pressure.

Most important, take care of the things (and people) that you do have as you dream of the things that you want. Sometimes that means making hard decisions, but decisions that have been my hardest to make have always been the best decisions I’ve made.

So, this season, what will you commence?

Security

Officer arrests on floor

Image: Shutterstock​

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May 11, 2021

What do you think of when you hear the word security? Do you immediately get happy thoughts, or do you think of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, or the countless other Black lives that have been taken by law enforcement and made headlines? Our nation is locked in a period of soul-searching about how to deal with police and security professionals.

Security means being free from danger, risk, etc.; having a feeling of safety. Too many Americans don’t feel any of that when they come in contact with members of law enforcement. How can we change that?

Law enforcement and private security professionals can start the healing with the basics: respect, and standard operating procedures (SOPs). Respect comes first. Simply saying things like “Yes sir” and “No ma’am” goes a very long way, even if you don’t think the person you’re speaking with deserves it. You may not always agree with this, but a professional, respectful, humble approach can often slow things down enough to give everyone involved a little more time to think about what they’re doing.

I understand that there are times when you have to do what you have to do. Working beside law enforcement for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen a lot of law enforcement-civilian interactions and ways they can end. In the best situations the result is respect given is respect received. Like everyone, law enforcement and security professionals don’t always leave their problems at home. In Rent-A-Cop Reboot we talk about a variety of ways you can take care of yourself so you can be in physical, mental, and emotional shape to better serve and protect the public.

Better policies could also help law enforcement professionals and the public. It may be time for national law enforcement SOPs. Having national standards that get all law enforcement officers on the same page with regard to things like de-escalation training, for example, can help in many situations that now end with police shootings. And they don’t just shoot Black people. The system is simply broken, and too many cases keep eating away at the public trust. How many more shootings must we endure before police policies change?

In the meantime, how can everyone feel more secure when approached by a law enforcement or security professional? You can also start with respect. The best law enforcement and security professionals approach you thinking, “Help me help you.” Do your best to calmly interact with the officer.

Up next, your vehicle. Operate it safely, and have a video security system installed. This will allow you to be hands-free when dealing with an officer, and it can record what happens. If you are concerned about being pulled out of your vehicle, purchase a body camera to be place on your person. If you want something a little less noticeable, get a button camera to be placed on your button down shirt.

Always have identification on you. When you are operating a vehicle, have your license, registration, and insurance information readily available. Only reach for your credentials when the officer tells you to. Tell the officers where you placed your items before reaching for anything. Remember, having a video recording security system in your vehicle gives you evidence of you obeying the commands of the officer. Video cameras installed in vehicles can typically capture front, rear, and interior activity. People tend to behave differently when they know they are being recorded. Unfortunately, we all know that is not always the case.

Another COVID Mother's Day

Baby Bella
Sam & Imani 2021
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May 4, 2021

Are you making plans for Mother’s Day? It’s this Sunday, May 9th. It’s the second Mother’s Day since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In case you’re starting to ease up your pandemic practices, don’t.

Travel restrictions on people traveling to the U.S. from India started today, and other international travel restrictions are still in place. Check local and CDC advice if you’re hoping to travel within the U.S. for Mother’s Day, a graduation, or any other special occasion in the coming weeks. Even if you have already been vaccinated keep wearing your mask, washing your hands, and maintaining physical distance. That’s especially important for people like security professionals and others who work with the public.

As for my Mother’s Day plans, I look forward to finding a way to show my mother and my wife how much I appreciate them.

I am incredibly grateful to be able to share this Mother’s Day with my wife. She is my partner in business, parenting, and life. My wife has suffered the losses of loved ones since last year, supported me through the loss of my grandmother last month, and she has been my rock through my cancer diagnosis and treatment.

My last liver pump chemotherapy treatment was last week, and I should be finished with my systemic chemo treatment in a couple of weeks. This does not mean that I am cancer-free. I will be carefully monitored for the next three years, and I remain faithful that by the end of that period I can claim the victory over the cancer that affected my liver and colon.

I hope the progress we have made so far in this cancer journey means less pain. Have you, or anyone you know, ever been through cancer treatment? It can be brutal.

I am being treated, but my wife and daughter are also going through it. We have had to deal with travel and staying near the hospital many miles away from home. During chemo treatment, I went through long periods when I couldn’t eat or drink, and I found myself in urgent care several times.

The physical pain became mental pain as I watched my daughter watch me. After hearing about the deaths of other family members, she asked me, “Daddy are you gonna die?” She would lay on my chest, rub my hair, and whisper, “Fight daddy.” Her 6-year old attention wasn’t as involved in virtual schooling as she was in live loving from a daddy she was afraid she would lose.

Through it all, my wife Imani was our spiritual warrior. She prayed over us every day, and worked to remain positive during our darkest hours. Now, as we are starting to see the light, I see even more why I love her.

I hope you have a woman in your life who has embodied the powerful love, spirit, and strength of motherhood and poured it into your life. Even if you can’t be with her or buy a fancy gift this Mother’s Day, find a way to let her know you appreciate her.

De-escalation

Police officer with group

Image: Shutterstock​

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April 27, 2021

In Columbus, Ohio, residents are wondering how a police shooting of an unarmed man in December failed to offer lessons that may have helped to prevent another officer shooting an African American teenager last week.

The shooting of that teen, Ma’KhiaBryant, and Andrew Brown, Jr. in North Carolina, are two of the latest incidents that call into question the need for much more cultural sensitivity and de-escalation training for police officers and security professionals.

De-escalation practices are designed to slow things down enough to help keep everyone safe during a law enforcement or security encounter. De-escalation can be part of a well-rounded and effective use-of-force policy. Baltimore and Seattle are among more than 150 U.S. cities that include de-escalation in their training and policies, but there are thousands of law enforcement departments and private security firms across the nation.

I have been advocating de-escalation for many years, encouraging security professionals to start with their mouths. In Rent-A-Cop Reboot, I wrote about this. As I said in the book, I don’t want to second-guess someone’s actions when they are performing their security duties. However, there are too many instances where African Americans and other people of color see white individuals arrested in situations where African Americans have been shot. Too often, killed.

If you are a law enforcement or security professional, get de-escalation training. If it’s not offered by your employer, ask for it, or find a responsible organization that offers training you can take.

I know de-escalation can call for behavior that may feel like the opposite of what you may have been taught — like trying to talk someone down, reaching for your taser faster than your gun, or backing away while talking to someone who is holding a knife — but I am here to tell you that I am here because of situations where I de-escalated the situation. I usually did it just by talking to the person.

If you are not in law enforcement or security, contact your local police department and ask if they offer de-escalation training. They may need you to contact elected officials and support funding for this purpose, or to increase mental health supports for everyone in the community who needs it. That includes police officers.

Let’s get through this spring without another tragic police or mass shooting for any reason. At least that’s what I’m praying for. How about you?

Chauvin Verdict: Thinking About Whatever Comes Next

Chauvin

Image: Minnesota Department of Corrections/CNN.com

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April 21, 2021

No matter what comes next for convicted, former police officer Derek Chauvin and the other officers who worked with him the day George Floyd died, I am thinking about what comes next for the law enforcement officers and security professionals who work hard to do the right thing every day.

If you are one of those professionals, I want to encourage you to make sure you get the well-rounded training you need and deserve. But let me remind you that training won’t work if your heart and mind are not in the right place. Make sure you get the support you need to be mentally, physically, and spiritually fit to do the important work that you do.

The jury came to the right decision in Chauvin’s case. Make sure you make the right decisions so that you, and those you work with, do not wind up associated with a tragedy like that team of police officers did.

Handling Fear

Handling Fear

Image: Shutterstock​

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April 20, 2021

Recent eventsthat havemade headlines got me thinking about fear among law enforcement and security professionals, and almost everyone in the U.S.

How much of what I call “bad fear” ran through the Chicago police officer who shot Adam Toledo? How much regular fear did the 13-year old feel before he was killed? How much regular fear was felt by everyone in Indianapolis last week, when Brandon Hole attacked the FedEx facility there?

How much more fear must we as a nation feel before we agree to work together on the many issues that create situations that end badly after someone has discharged a firearm?

I believe in the lawful, appropriately-regulated and trained ownership and operation of a firearm. What I do not believe in is allowing the fear that fuels too much firearm use to continue unchecked, and the “bad fear” is the worst.

As I wrote in Rent-A-Cop Reboot, bad fear is most likely the result of bad training. We have seen police training questioned in recent weeks like never before. And rightfully so. I hope security professionals of all types, armed and unarmed, are getting the message about the importance of being well trained.

If you are a security or law enforcement professional, it is clear that you cannot simply rely on the training your department or company provides. Find additional opportunities to stay sharp, and not just with your weapon. Be as physically fit as possible. Stay well rested. Have your eyesight and hearing checked. Think long and hard about ways you may be judging those who are not like you, and their difference possibly being connected to your built-in fear of them. Some of this may be so deep-seated that you didn’t know it was there. Find it and root it out.

I think it is also important to find something to believe in that is greater than yourself and let that faith support you. No matter who you are and what you are afraid of, sometimes faith is your best weapon against it.

Louella Griffin Johnson

Louella Griffin Johnson
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April 16, 2021

During a break in chemotherapy treatments last month, I squeezed in a visit with my grandmother. Grandma Griffin, as I called her most of my life, was a kind and humble woman who always greeted me with a kiss on my lips. No matter how hard I tried to avoid those juicy kisses, eventually I would lean in and greet my grandmother with a smile.

I am Louella Griffin Johnson’s oldest grandchild, but I didn't have my own child until my grandmother turned 90 years old. Grandma Griffin attended my daughter’s first birthday celebration, which will always be a special moment in our lives.

On April 6th, my beloved Grandma Griffin was called to glory. My last living grandparent quietly passed away at her home in Chesapeake, Virginia at the age of 96, leaving a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren to continue her legacy.

Her love helps inspire me as I continue battling stage IV