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May 2011

Quick Survey

Would you be interested in an OPD online discussion forum? Click here to reply.

Girls Day Out Special Speaker

I have a great speaker for the upcoming GDO class on May 7th. It is Master Sergeant Michael Loruse of the Oklahoma City Police Department. He is a part of the Police Community Relations (PCR) Unit of the Oklahoma City Police Department which is made up of a group of specially trained officers whose focus is presenting information to neighborhood associations, businesses, churches, and other groups on a variety of issues including safety, crime prevention, drug abuse, and numerous other topics. The PCR officers also provide information concerning how to set up a neighborhood association and neighborhood watch patrol. I found out about the PCR through my assistant, Dara, who had the PCR officer in her district come to her home and discuss ways she could burglar proof her home. See MSgt. Loruse's bio here. There's also some very useful information on the PCR portion of the OKC PD website regarding car jacking and home security – from the website click Crime Prevention in the left navigation, then look for the links in the top right of the page.

MSgt. Loruse will give the class a 45 minute personal safety presentation about making yourself less a target of crime, and then spend some time answering questions.

Even if you've already attended Girls Day Out, this is a unique opportunity to receive crime prevention information from someone who has an expertise in this area, so I encourage all of you to consider coming. If you've already taken GDO and want to take the whole class again to practice your skills, choose Refresher on the payment page. If you have already taken GDO and want to come just to hear the speaker,
you may do so for $10, choose Special Speaker Event on the payment page.

NOTE: Coming only for the special speaker
applies only to those who have already taken Girls Day Out – if you have not previously attended GDO you must attend the entire class.

Upcoming Classes

I still have room in the May 7th Girls Day Out class but you need to register ASAP (no later than Wednesday). There's also room in the May 12th Defensive Awareness class. Defensive Awareness is a lecture based class, only three hours long, that will provide you invaluable information on how to be safe while out and about. The all day BTB/AEE class is starting to fill up so don't delay registering if you're interested. I have scheduled a second GDO class on June 11th to accommodate the article in the magazine coming out in Shawnee – it was supposed to come out in April but was bumped at the last minute and is scheduled to come out this week. Since GDO is highly recommended prior to SDA, I scheduled the second one prior to the SDA class on June 18th. See Upcoming Classes below for more details.

Double Duty Speaking Engagements

On Friday morning I spoke to about 200 girls at Deer Creek Middle School. I took SD and it was very interesting to see their reaction to him. I spoke in the gym, and both boys and girls were there prior to classes starting. The girls all commented on how scary and creepy he looked, many asked me if he was real. The boys all acted tough, and one very small 7th grade boy even walked over to SD and asked me if he was for the self-defense class. I said yes and asked him if he thought he looked scary, he replied, "No way, I can take him!"

The girls were divided into two groups, I spoke to about 150 8th graders first period and 60 7th graders second period. The first question I asked each group was if they knew what the word "prey" meant. They did. When I explained that not all males are predators, but all females are prey, they also understood. It was interesting to me to note that even a small boy half the height of SD (along with every other boy who walked by) stated how he could take him. The predator/prey persona was vividly evident in these kids.

The girls seemed to really get a lot out of the 30 minutes I spoke to them – I taught them the aggressive "STOP!" command and could hear them between periods practicing in the hall. One 8th grade girl walked by SD after 2nd period and said, "OMG, it's SD!" which I thought was quite funny. All of the 8th grade girls walking by SD as they changed classes walked over to him and "turned on the scary" (as I called the aggressive posture) and yelled, "STOP!" to him. It was rewarding to see even in that short amount of time they got it.

That evening I spoke for the women's group at Fresh Start Community Church in Moore. It was a smaller group than expected, but we had a very lively discussion. I saw notable surprise on many of their faces 10 minutes into it – this is not uncommon because most women who have not been to an OPD class assume it's some kind of tough martial arts stuff and they are very pleasantly surprised to find it's for women just like them.

Email me if you'd like me to speak to your group.

Financial Aid for Classes

No one will be turned away from Oklahoma Personal Defense training because they cannot afford a class. If you need assistance, please contact me.

Click the button on the left and input the amount of your choice if you'd like to help women who may not be able to pay attend a class. Funds are kept in a separate account and used when help is needed. Contact me for more information.

Oklahoma Personal Defense (OPD) is a personal defense academy committed to the empowerment of women through their own personal defense education. OPD protects the dignity and comfort of women by providing a safe, secure environment in which they can learn without the stress of intimidation. Classes are developed by its founder and lead instructor, Tammy Pinkston, specifically with the needs of average women in mind.  Focusing on firearms training, OPD tactics and techniques are practical and doable for all women. Class helpers are women who have been students of OPD, learned the techniques, and expressed a desire to help other women learn. OPD was formed in response to the tremendous volume of women seeking their own personal defense training.

April 16th Shotgun Class

Q: Hi Tammy,

Can you clarify any rules and regulations on carrying knives that you know about? I received a very nice folding knife I plan to carry for utility-and self-defense if necessary, but someone questioned whether it was legal. I've searched online and read the statute but it's about as clear as mud.

I'd appreciate your info.


A: Hi Lacy,

I can’t answer for other states, but the laws in Oklahoma are both vague and lax regarding carrying a knife.  There are rules about the KIND of knife, such as a switchblade is illegal.  Many people assume assisted opener knives are switchblades, but two things differentiate switchblades –  the way they open and the type of blade.  Switchblades open with a push of a button. Assisted openers may appear to do so as well, but in actuality you push a thumb stud which starts the blade out of closed position and a spring pushes it the rest of the way.  I have one that requires a wrist flick to open it, you push the thumb stud to start it opening and then must flick your wrist to get it out the rest of the way. Three others I have you push the thumb stud and they flick open.  

Type of blade is also an issue, many switchblades have double sided blades. These are most always illegal.  But, the kind of knife you’re talking about will be one sided as most folders are.

So there is actually a difference in the two, and assisted opening knives are legal whereas switchblades are not.  I’d say 9 out of 10 men in Oklahoma probably have an assisted opener knife in their pocket whether you can see it or not.  

And if you’ve lived in Oklahoma any amount of time you’ve no doubt seen men walking around with a fixed blade knife in a sheath on their belt.  This is also legal, I’ve never seen nor heard or anyone ever being hassled about it, it’s pretty much a given in Oklahoma and good ole boys who live out in the country would be considered sissies if they didn’t carry such a knife!  Now that you’ve got a knife you plan to carry, start watching and see how many of these you see walking around.

There is some issue of blade length, and fixed versus folding, but again the laws in Oklahoma are very vague.  I researched this years ago, talking to several professionals including law enforcement, and the best answer I could get was if you don’t scare the cops, they probably won’t hassle you about it.  And that is common sense anyway including carrying a gun, if you have an encounter with a cop even casually, or if getting a ticket or whatever, if you don’t act hinky, they probably won’t hassle you.  
I always carry at least one folder knife even if I’m carrying a gun.  If I’m pinned, or on the ground, or need time to get to my gun, my knife is one of my backup options.  I carry a pocket knife that can also be used as a defense knife but it’s smaller and I carry a defense knife. The pocket knife I cut threads and cloth and paper, the defense knife I save for humans so I don’t dull it...I know they’re sharp cause I finally learned not to cut myself on them!

What I do is I’m reasonably discreet about my knives because the sheep are scared of anything that might hurt someone so I don’t get them out unless discreetly cause you’ll never be able to convince a sheep that it’s okay for you to carry something that you have a legal right to carry...they would prefer you negotiate with the scumbag who’s about to rape and torture and ultimately kill you than heaven forbid, take him out any way you can.  My choice is the latter.


Send me your questions.

Girls Day Out
May 7th, from 10 am to 4 pm
Earl's BBQ
$45.00, includes lunch

This class helps you prepare for the conceal carry class and to become more comfortable with carrying your gun after you've taken the class. The class teaches you how to safely handle a gun, how to choose the right gun for you, and how to carry it once you have your gun.

Special speaker TBA, check the Schedule page as I'll post it as soon as I get it solidified.

A lot of women come to Girls Day Out in groups because it's a whole lot of fun to do together! I already have mother/daughter groups signed up for this class. Register

Defensive Awareness
May 12th from 6 pm to 9 pm

This class is more than situational awareness, it's tactics and techniques on how to keep yourself safe while out and about. The class focuses on things women may not have even thought of that will give them the upper hand in their surroundings.

This class is on a Thursday evening from 6 pm to 9 pm at Earl's. Dinner is not provided but I have the room reserved starting at 5 so that anyone who wants to come early and have dinner together, or just come shoot the breeze, can do so...this is a discussion based class (no drills) so students can eat while the class is going on if they don't get there early enough to eat between 5 and start of class at 6. Register

Between the Threat and the Bang
May 28th, from 9 am to 12:00 pm
$45.00, includes lunch

This class identifies and teaches several steps that can and should occur between the time a woman feels threatened and the time she may need to draw a gun in self-defense. Students practice situational awareness, posturing and commanding, and ultimately drawing from a holster.

Training guns and holsters will be provided for drawing from concealment drills. Register

Double Class Discount – Anyone who wants to attend both Between the Threat and the Bang and Everything Else choose Double Class Discount on the Registration page for $10 off.

And Everything Else
May 28th, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
$45.00, includes lunch

This class teaches students to use kubotans (keychain mini-baton), hands, flashlights, pens, canes/walking sticks, and common everyday items for those times when you cannot carry a gun.

If you're thinking, "I don't need a cane, why would I carry one?" Well, are you going to the courthouse and don't want to be "defenseless" when you come out to the parking lot (since you have to disarm)? Are you going on a plane and you can't carry any weapon? I'm going to show you how to take down one or more attackers with a wooden cane (see pics from the first class)...which of course you can carry right into a courthouse or onto a plane because it's not a weapon.

There will be times you simply can not carry a gun – you do NOT need to feel defenseless during those times! This class will empower you to protect yourself with everyday items. Register

Double Class Discount – Anyone who wants to attend both Between the Threat and the Bang and Everything Else choose Double Class Discount on the Registration page for $10 off.

Girls Day Out
June 11th, from 10 am to 4 pm
Earl's BBQ
$45.00, includes lunch

This class helps you prepare for the conceal carry class and to become more comfortable with carrying your gun after you've taken the class. The class teaches you how to safely handle a gun, how to choose the right gun for you, and how to carry it once you have your gun.

Special speaker TBA, check the Schedule page as I'll post it as soon as I get it solidified.

A lot of women come to Girls Day Out in groups because it's a whole lot of fun to do together! I already have mother/daughter groups signed up for this class. Register

Oklahoma SDA (conceal carry) Women Only
June 18th from 9 am to 6 pm


This is the class to get the required certificate to apply for your Oklahoma conceal carry license. This is NOT a beginner level class, you MUST be able to handle your gun unassisted, and demonstrate 100% safety, in order to pass the class. If you are unsure of your ability to do so, I highly recommend you attend Girls Day Out as this class specifically helps prepare you for the SDA class.

Refresher Classes: If you've already attended a class, you may take the class again to
work on your skills for
a discounted rate. Look for Refresher Courses on the registration page.

If you've been in OPD classes the last year and a half, you've most likely seen Dara. She was among my first students and has worked her way to the point through training of being able to assist me with classes. She took my Range Safety Officer class in February 2010, and began serving as an RSO for my SDA classes from then on. As the Academy has grown, I have need for more helpers, so I held another RSO class in March 2011 and certified five more women as RSOs. They are currently working their way through all of the OPD classes as students, and apprenticing to help with classes as well as to serve as RSOs.

I choose women for the helper pool from students who are progressing in their skills as they take OPD classes. Even though they may only have minimal experience with firearms, they have a perspective of relating to students who also come to OPD classes with very minimal (sometimes no) experience. Women in the helper pool have both demonstrated advancing skills and understanding of OPD techniques and expressed an interest in helping other women on their path. You'll be seeing the new helpers in upcoming OPD classes – find them by their OPD name tag or OPD ball cap.

Over the next few newsletters I'll introduce you to the OPD helper pool via a short bio and other contributions. This month I'm posting Denise Hughes' bio, and featuring an article written by her sister, Cherise Barsaloux, under Annals of the Absurd. You can also read other comments by the helper pool in that section. And if you haven't yet read Dara's bio, you can find it on the About page of the OPD website.

Denise Hughes, OPD Helper

Denise has been shooting for about a year now. Prior to her attendance at Girls Day Out in February 2010, she had never given shooting in general and for personal defense in particular much of a thought. Not having been raised around guns and shooters, Denise had a fear of firearms and the thought of shooting them made her extremely uneasy.  But after attending GDO, she began to realize the importance of putting her safety into her own hands.  Shortly after the class she purchased a S&W 9mm and began going to the range. She very quickly discovered that the fear and unease started to decrease and that confidence took its place.  She still has a lot to learn but is excited about helping other women reach a place of security and self-reliance through OPD training.

Denise holds a certificate as a Range Safety Officer.

OPD theme song?

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

Performed by The Merry Macs (listen)
Recorded July 29, 1942
Words and Music by Frank Loesser

Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition!
Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition!
Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition!
And we'll all stay free!
Praise the Lord, and swing into position,
Can't afford to be a politician'
Praise the Lord, we're all between perdition
and the deep blue sea!

Down went the gunner, a bullet was his fate
Down went the gunner, and then the gunner's mate
Up jumped the sky pilot, gave the boys a look
And manned the gun himself as he laid aside his Book,

Yes, the sky pilot said it,
You've got to give him credit,
for a son-of-a-gun of a gunner was he, shoutin':
Praise the Lord, we're on a mighty mission!
All aboard! We ain't a-goin' fishin'.
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,
And we'll all stay free!

– of or pertaining to a maneuver or plan of action designed as an expedient toward gaining a desired end or temporary advantage; showing adroit planning; aiming at an end beyond the immediate action. From the Greek word taktikós.

Date: 4/29/2011                
Subject: Rape/Assault Suspects

Incident #11-30825

Date/Time: April 6, 2011/2:00pm
On the above date/time, female victim was driving in south OKC (somewhere on S. Meridian), when a man got into her vehicle.  He allegedly did so while she was stopped at a stoplight.  This man forced her (at gunpoint) to drive to a house (unknown location).  The house was described as a single story, pale yellow siding over pale yellow brick.  It had an attached 2 car white automatic garage door.  It sits on a corner with a residential street along the garage side of the house.
Once at the house, the victim was repeatedly assaulted and raped over a period of several days.  2 additional male suspects and 1 female suspect were present at this house.  Attached are composite sketches of all 4 suspects.  If you recognize them, or have any information on this case, contact Crime Stoppers 405-235-7300.  Callers can remain ANONYMOUS, and may be eligible for a cash reward.
**Victim’s vehicle is still outstanding.  2008 green Ford Focus, 4 door, 888 DOU (OKLA) with personalized tag on the front “LORI”** If you see this vehicle, contact 911 immediately.
Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow

Composite Sketches

Could this happen to you? Why not? I'm absolutely certain this woman never thought this could happen to her. Why did it happen? If you don't know the answer to that, if you aren't 100 percent positive it could never happen to you, please attend the upcoming Defensive Awareness class. THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN TO ANYBODY!

There are worse things that happen to women than being killed – being held in a house for several days and raped is one such thing. Do you think they fed her? Let her go to the bathroom? Do you think she slept? Look at the composite pictures, do all of those people look like scary bad guys you would avoid while out and about? How about the female suspect? She even has a vanity plate on her car. Could a woman with a cute vanity plate hold another woman hostage for several days and do nothing, even participate, while said woman is being raped?

Do you think this woman will be able to drive anywhere again? Probably not. I have known, and do know, crime victims. Some, even after years of counseling, still cannot leave their houses alone.

I am called to teach women how to protect themselves from such horror as this. But I am merely the messenger, I cannot make women actually get the training. I know that, and yet it is so very frustrating to me when I know such things as happened to this woman can happen, and that the only reason it doesn't happen is because you are trained. And then I have six students show up for a class...or four....or two. And I hold the class for those few who want the training...knowing full well that there are still so many who leave their very freedom up to chance. It's so not worth it to assume nothing bad will happen to you.

Some of you don't realize what you have, there is no one else in this entire country doing what I'm doing, teaching average women practical self-defense that every woman can do. There are tons of self-defense classes out there, and most of them are geared toward men...or taught by men, and men are simply not women. A man would not get taken to someone's house and raped for days. We are prey, we will always be prey, and a man can never comprehend that. This is why what I do works, because I understand we are prey since I myself am prey. I also understand I'm not training law enforcement, I am training stay at home moms and grandmothers and nurses and secretaries and realtors and college students and computer programmers to keep themselves from becoming prey.

The classes are here in your own geographical area. They provide excellent training. They are very low cost (every training class I've ever taken has an average cost of $200-$600). They are taught by someone with 38 years experience, who is an average woman just like you. I hope more of you realize the blessing you have sitting in your own back yard and don't take it for granted.

Contact me if there's a specific topic you'd like to see addressed in this section.

This is the text of an actual ad from a national "personal defense" magazine (click photo for whole ad)

When I saw the ad, I sent the OPD team a copy of it with the following instructions: Here's your assignment, send me your comments on how you would respond to an OPD student who: 1. asked your opinion about this (she's considering this and wants your advice) or 2. informed you of this "great" option for self defense (her husband got her one and told her it's a "safe" option for self
defense) can be as detailed as you want in your response, address as many issues as you see.

I sent them this assignment because I have seen many such hypes and gimmicks perpetuated as valid self defense options, oftentimes promoted by men upon women, even caring husbands and dads who truly don't comprehend that this is nothing but false security. Without her own education, a woman can fall for something like this that will get her killed should she ever face a dangerous situation.

Some of the team members have taken only a few OPD classes, yet they all had enough training and common sense to make an intelligent response as to why the above is an extremely dangerous consideration. Their responses reflect their individual personalities, backgrounds, and life experiences, but they all gave excellent replies. Below is the response I received from Cherise.

Cherise Barsaloux, OPD Helper

My response to the student would be, "Let's mention this to Tammy and get her opinion on it."  This is your student, and she needs your input.

My thoughts and concerns are as follows:

There is no genuine self-defense training associated with carrying the Volga, and it offers no real protection, yet it can be perceived as being a real gun.  The person carrying it will have a false sense of security:  she may feel protected, but is actually exposing herself to a number of risks.

What if the assailant isn't frightened off by the in-the-air shot?  Even if he doesn't recognize that the gun is a fake, his attack may be more savage if he believes you could have killed him.  The Volga is made of a steel alloy.  That ought to feel great (NOT!) when the attacker takes it from you and beats you with it as you stand there, shocked that your ruse didn't work.  And you'll have given him ample opportunity to do just that by raising your arm in the air to fire the blank shot, since he will probably get to you before you manage to lower your arm again.  We'd never do that with a real gun.  We don't fire warning shots and we don't point guns at people to frighten them away.  We draw guns in self-defense and only when we are prepared to shoot to kill.

If the assailant happens to have a gun or other weapon of his own (or has a partner who does) and you pull the Volga, you've just upped the ante but you have no real defense.  You've brought a prop to a gun or knife fight and have gotten yourself seriously injured or killed.

People standing around you might misunderstand your intent if you "fire a gun" into the air.  Who are you?  The attacker, or the victim?  As a bystander, if I saw someone draw a gun and point it at someone else, it would be clear that she has a target in front of the muzzle and I'd look to see at whom the gun was pointed.  This gives me clues about what is going on.  But if I see someone draw a gun and point it in the air... I have no idea why she's doing it or what her intention is.  Am I at risk?  Is she nuts?  Do I need to duck and cover, or prepare to pull my own weapon?  It's dangerous to put yourself in such an ambivalent position.

Are you prepared for the consequences if a police officer sees you with the Volga?  Real guns carry serious punishments for brandishing, pointing, and discharging a firearm, and though I'm not sure what, if any, punishment is doled out in Oklahoma for doing those things with a blank-firing gun, I personally wouldn't want to risk any legal and/or physical consequences that might follow either being seen carrying or threatening someone with this type of prop.

Real guns cannot be carried into certain places, and a person carrying a Volga would need to be aware of which places those are and be sure not to take it to them because, as stated above, this item can be perceived as being an actual gun.  Again, the physical and/or legal consequences that might following being seen carrying a Volga into a place where guns are prohibited by law could be severe.

It is naive to believe that a blank-shooting pistol is incapable of killing someone.  Fired at point-blank range, a person may certainly be injured or killed by such an item.  The owner of the Volga may believe, erroneously, that the Volga is a "safe" option that cannot inflict real harm, thereby making it more dangerous than it might otherwise be, especially if it isn't handled the way trained people handle ALL firearms: toy, rubber, or real.

I wouldn't want my children to see me with the Volga and get the idea that I'm actually being protected from anything.  They might decide to do something equally ineffective in order to protect themselves.

So, my thought can be summarized by plagiarizing a bit of the ad's own propaganda:  If you don't want to kill someone and don't want to own a real gun... DON'T CARRY THIS P.O.S., AND INSTEAD SPEND THE MONEY ON SOME ACTUAL SELF-DEFENSE TRAINING. 

Even if you were to buy the bull about the Volga, you'd have to train yourself to conceal it, draw it, and aim it in order to fool anyone.  You'd need to have a clue about defensive awareness.  Why invest in an imitation when you can take a basic class for less than the price of this useless prop and have given yourself the start of a useful education with which to protect yourself?  No one says you have to carry a real gun, and if you don't feel capable of killing anyone, you certainly shouldn't do so.  But there are legitimate options that are effective in stopping an attack, or at least giving you a serious fighting chance instead of a false sense of security.  The Volga is not one of those.


Click here to read the other helper's comments.

OPD Helpers Cherise (left) and Louise in Gun Cleaning 101

Real life stories in their own words from students
of how they used
something they learned in class
(used by permission)
me your story.

Drama at the Shawnee Braum's

Tammy and Dara

This section typically incorporates stories I receive from students about something that happened in their day to day life in which they were able to use what they've learned from their training to protect themselves...these stories are always unsolicited, students tell me about something that happened and I post it to let you all know that yes, these things really DO just happen! On Saturday evening Dara and I had met for dinner in Shawnee and spent the evening discussing some of the logistics of OPD...and we ended up with our own student story (yes, it just happened). We decided afterwards that it would be beneficial to share with all of you, so we each wrote in our own words what happened.

As you read the below, remember that we wrote these separately without consulting the other – by the time she drove home, I had already written my perspective. She sent me hers an hour later. Again, you can see our different personalities, backgrounds, and life experiences in the two narratives, and yet the congruency very clear comes through.

Dara's narrative:

Tammy and I made an evening of it Saturday night.  We closed three different establishments, moving from a restaurant to Starbucks and finally to Braum’s.  Normally I sit in a place where I can keep a 360 degree awareness of what is going on around me.  When Tammy and I first met, we did a funny kind of dance to determine which of us would face the door.  It was a source of amusement to us both.   Since then, I’ve become more relaxed when I’m with her because we each know what to expect of the other.   She watches my back and I watch hers.  We can also read each other’s body language in an instant when one of us alerts on something.
After Starbucks closed, we walked over to Braum’s to do a little grocery shopping.  We were both hungry (it had been at least five hours since we had dinner), so we decided to get something to eat. I ordered first and chose a booth where I could easily see one door and about half the store, and Tammy could see the other door and the other half of the store.  I took note of a strange character a few booths down as I entered the area, and thought we would have to pay attention to what he was doing.  A little boy was with him.
The ‘character’  was talking on his cell phone,  talking loudly to the person on the other end of the call.  His tone was flirtatious like he was trying to impress a woman.  I heard him say something like, “You’ll have to change my Depends.”  I was thinking, “Eew!”  He continued to talk about his Depends for a bit, then said something like, “You better use wet wipes.  Don’t be using no dry ones.”  I was thinking, “Really!  EEEEw!”
Tammy watched him as we chatted.  She commented that it was odd to have a child that young out this late, and I agreed.  I watched the grocery and food counter areas behind her and the door.  A Braum’s employee was sweeping the floor over by the ice cream counter exit.  She glanced past us occasionally toward the man’s table.
Suddenly, two police officers entered the store.  One stopped about two paces inside the door and did a quick visual scan of the store.  The second one came in and stopped just behind him in the entry way between two sets of automatic doors.  The first one said something over his shoulder to the second one.
Tammy asked:  “What just happened? Everyone behind you just looked up at something behind me.”
I  told her what I saw, and made a quick assessment at the same time:  “Two police officers just came in.  I don’t think they are here to eat.”  
A third police officer came in and went over to the worker who was sweeping.  He was a bit older than the first two, and obviously in charge.  The other two officers came further into the store.  One stood by the door and continued to scan the store, the other went into the middle of the store and watched the section of the store that the first one couldn’t see very well.
As the Braum’s employee and the third police officer talked, both of them glanced past where we were sitting toward the man on the phone behind me.  I quietly gave Tammy a description of what was going on behind her. I knew she was watching the man behind me, so I also kept an eye on her to watch for cues in her body language, and started planning:  If she gives me any indication of trouble, then I will either slide under the table or get up and calmly walk out the door, which is a few paces behind her.   Which one I choose depends on what I see her do.  I trust myself to make that decision in a split second.  Our groceries are in a cart parked against the table on the other side of the aisle.  I will leave it behind if it becomes necessary to leave the store.
All of this happened in just a few moments.
Police Officer in charge finished his conversation with the Braum’s employee and walked past us to the  man.  The other two officers fell in behind him.  They passed out of my view into Tammy’s.  I heard officer in charge start a conversation with the man.  He asked him things like, “what’s going on?”  “Is your son ok?”   “How did you get here?”  The man said things like, “It has been a really bad day.”  “We had a death in the family.”  I heard bits and pieces about an incident with the Braum’s employee.  The man denied that anything happened, and wanted to get the manager involved in the conversation.  The police officer told him no, that wasn’t necessary.  They continued to talk for a few minutes.  The man made a lot of excuses and sounded pretty whiney.  He insisted that he didn’t do whatever the Braum’s employee said he did, and he was just trying to eat.  He was argumentative, but in a whiney way.  
I continued to pay attention to the tone of the conversation. If I heard the tone escalate into hostility, I was prepared to follow my plan and either get up and calmly walk out the door or slide under the table.  I continued watching Tammy, who could see what is happening behind me, for cues.  All of the store employees were now behind the counter and keeping out of my view.  I heard them talking to people at the drive through, but they stayed out of sight of the dining room.
The conversation between the police officer and the man continued for a few moments.  A woman walked by  from behind me in the direction of the main door with the little boy. This was the first time I saw her.  She had dark shoulder-length hair, dark skin (either Hispanic or native American).  She was slender and wore jeans with huge holes torn in them.  Under the jeans, she wore dark fish-net hose with an elaborate pattern, which was  visible through the huge holes.  One of the police officers asked her where she was going.  She replied that she wanted to get the little boy away from “that”, referring to the scene behind me.  He let them go.
Tammy and I continued to eat.  I listened for any change in tone and watched Tammy.  I also watched the door and the part of the store that I could see.  The few customers who were in the store before the police officers entered quickly took care of their business and left.
The police officer told the man he had to leave, and the man finally complied.  They walked past our table, followed closely by the other two police officers.   The man and the police officer in charge stopped in front of the door, still talking for a few seconds.  The other two officers stood next to each other in the aisle, blocking it.  The man could not come back our direction without going through them.  He finally left the restaurant.  The police officers followed him out.
Tammy and I watched the parking lot as vehicles left.  We remained very watchful, paying careful attention to every vehicle that entered the parking lot and every person who came into the store. The employee who talked to the police officer came our way, sweeping, and later mopping the floor.  We asked what happened, and she said that the man threw food at her.  It was enough that the police officer told her she could file assault charges against him.  All she wanted was for him to leave the store.

Tammy's narrative:

It was 10:45 on a Saturday evening and Dara and I were sitting at Braum’s in Shawnee.  We had been at Starbucks next door until they closed at 10:30, and when walking to our cars I said I needed some things at Braum’s so we walked across the parking lot to the store.  We had had dinner earlier that evening at 5:00 and realizing we were hungry again, got an order of fries and sat down to continue our conversation…we had been working on some of the logistics of OPD and hadn’t quite finished. 

Dara got her food first so she chose a seat in a section with fewer people (the other area was a bit overcrowded).  There was a man in a sleeveless t-shirt talking loudly on a cell phone two tables over, and Dara sat with her back to him – she was facing the main entry door.  I sat across from her facing him with my back to the main entry door but where I could see the secondary door.  The man, who struck us both as being obnoxious and gross, was getting louder and louder, slouching down in the booth, with a young boy of maybe 5 or 6 sitting across from him.  We continued our conversation, trying to ignore him.  Three college age kids walked by, two girls and a boy, and sat directly across the aisle from the obnoxious man. 

Very shortly after the three kids sat down, I saw them turn around and look at the entry door behind me and Dara’s face expressed to me that something was happening behind me so I asked, “what’s going on?” She replied, “A police officer just walked in.”  I turned around and looked to see two police officers standing by the entry door.  I turned back toward Dara and began watching in the reflection of the window opposite me and I could see a third police officer go over to an employee and talk to her.  I asked Dara what was going on, she told me they were looking in our direction but past us.  I was still watching the man who had now gotten off the phone, yelled something at the boy, and was sitting there watching the LEOs.  I told Dara he was the one they were talking about because he began to look suspicious, his face expressing that he was guilty of something.  She then said, “They’re walking over here.” 

The first officer walked over to the man and the other two closed ranks behind him, standing only a few feet from our table.  The three college kids were trapped in their booth.  We weren’t exactly trapped, but at this point Dara was watching my face to determine what the next move should be.  I was watching the two LEOs standing back, and watching the perp’s face for agitation…would he be belligerent with the officer, was he making any suspicious moves (reaching down toward his pants where he could have a weapon)?  Dara was listening to some of what the officer was saying and what the perp was saying in response.  I was focusing in on his behavior.  If he became aggressive, or made any sudden moves, I would have immediately indicated to Dara that we needed to get out of there.  But at the moment, the safest thing seemed to be to stay put. 

The man did argue with the officer, but it was more in the manner of gee, I don’t know why you’re picking on me, I’m just trying to eat my dinner.  He said something about having a bad day and that a family member had died.  He didn’t seem to be having a bad day when we sat down, in fact it appeared he was loudly flirting on the phone with someone. He said something about his wife, and about that time a woman appeared, evidently having come in the secondary entry door I was facing (but couldn’t see because my view was blocked by the backs of the two officers).  I commented to Dara that she looked more like a hooker than anyone's wife, but then again he was pretty skanky so who knows.  At first she just kind of stood there and I wasn’t sure if she was going to get in on the discussion or what, but then she took the little boy by the hand and started leading him away, toward us.  One of the two flanking officers questioned her, I heard her say, “I’m getting him away from this.”  At least someone seemed to be watching out for the little boy.

Evidently at this point the officer who was talking to this man asked him to leave.  This was the danger point and my assumption was that Dara was really watching my face at this time to see what it would be saying about what we needed to do.  My focus was on whether the perp made any sudden moves or reached for a weapon as he stood up.  He did neither, and the two officers standing near us stepped aside and let the perp, followed by the first officer, by.  As soon as the two passed, they closed ranks behind them and followed them out into the parking lot.  I watched one officer get in an unmarked SUV parked by the door, the other two got in a cruiser.  Out of view the man also got in a vehicle and we watched to make sure he drove out of the parking lot because we saw all three LEOs leave.  This was another crucial time, would he come back in and seek revenge on the employee who called the cops? 

At this point Dara and I actually talked about it and discussed the fact that she was watching my face for what was going on behind her and I was doing the same.  We are two trained women, both of us were armed.  We have taken some of the same advanced training classes so our observations, reactions and responses were (and would have been) the same, but we have also worked together long enough in OPD classes to know what the other’s reactions meant.  She knew, and I knew, depending on how the other responded determined what action we’d take.  We realized in talking about it afterwards that we took for this fact for granted, that we automatically responded with very minimal discussion.  This is also how we work together on the firing line in enforcing safety.  In this situation, we virtually enabled ourselves a 360 degree view because two trained and armed women were sitting facing each other.

We also both agreed that had we been with most anybody else, or alone, we would have left the moment the LEOs walked over to the perp.  One reason we didn’t was because each of the other was watching each direction. 

I told Dara I never had the OC (oh crap) feeling in my stomach, and I was also watching the behavior, and listening to the voice of the perp to see if he was going to escalate the situation to the point of danger, meaning we needed to leave immediately, or dive for cover.  We both remained calm, continued to assess the situation, which included watching the responses and actions of the LEOs, and we made the decision to stay.  After they all left, we stayed awhile longer but from that point on we both watched every vehicle that came into the parking lot, and every person who walked toward either door, just in case the guy decided to come back and seek revenge on the employee that called the cops on him.

After they all had left, the employee walked by our table and we asked her what had happened.  She said he got upset and threw his food at her, hitting her in the chest with it.  She said she could have filed assault charges but she really just wanted him to leave so she called the police.  She then went on to tell us several other occurrences of people getting aggressive with her, one woman who hit the glass on the drive through window with her fists and cracked the glass, another man who broke the front window by slamming into it.  She said her job was safer when she worked as a dental assistant.

So the big lesson to be learned from this is there is a very legitimate reason to know who you’re with, know their ability to be aware of the surroundings, their training capacity (can they or can they not successfully deploy a weapon if needed, are they wearing a weapon?), their ability to assess a situation once it begins and in some way communicate with you what’s going on, and can you together make good decisions based on the information you’re receiving? 

Ladies, this is yet another reason why training is so important.  This includes defensive awareness.  Do you know how to spot a problem and do you know how to deal with it SMARTLY if you do?  Can you work in conjunction with someone you’re with to deal with the situation in the best way?  Dara and I could have bolted the moment the LEOs walked past us.  I opted not to, in part I didn’t feel danger at the moment (never had the OC feeling in my gut) and in part because I didn’t want jump up and leave, thus causing movement which might have distracted the two flanking officers which may have given the perp the opportunity to pull a weapon or otherwise escalate, such as charging the officer standing in front of him while his backup officers were distracted.  Sometimes the best option is to stay put; sometimes the best option is to get away.  We could have changed our option – we were both prepared to do so – at any given moment.  Dara read my reactions and knew she could trust me and even though her knee jerk reaction would have been to leave, she stayed put.

Can you do that when you’re alone?  Can you do it when you’re with a friend?  Do you know how to direct someone who’s with you who has no clue what’s going on or what to do how to follow you out of a dangerous situation? To not endanger YOU?  Have you prepared, including mentally?  Do you know that you would spot potential danger and not be surprised when the situation escalates?  Do you know that you won't overreact, thereby making the situation escalate. Neither of us were surprised because we had both already assessed this man by the time we sat down.  At no time did either of us panic.  I never saw anything but calm on Dara’s face; I suspect she had the same view of my face.  We calmly and methodically thought through our options, we communicated what was going on that the other couldn’t see.  This does not come automatically! 

I keep encouraging you all to take the classes, and take them again to get more practice.  Have you ever thought about how many times Dara and I have “taken” ALL of the OPD classes because we’ve worked together conducting the classes for a couple of years now?  I wouldn’t be able to actually put a number on it, but the longevity is precisely why we were able to work in sync like this.  Ladies, this ability does not come from attending one or two classes!  You also could not expect a friend who has never attended a single class to know what to do, or to respond in accordance with you even if you DO know what to do.

If you have friends you spend time with, I strongly urge you to bring them to classes and get them trained along with you.  You may some day face a situation like this and need to make decisions that could impact the outcome.  Again, I chose not to move because I believed that it would be more of a distraction, which might give the perp his opportunity to rush the officer standing in front of him if the two flanking officers looked to see what we were doing had we both stood up at that moment in time.  Dara chose to trust my decision.  It wasn’t because I was the instructor and she was the assistant in that situation, we were two friends having a late bite to eat.  No, she trusted my decision because she knows me well enough – has worked with me long enough – to know what my reactions mean. 

Who knows what would have actually happened if our actions had been something other than what they were, but I believe we made a sound decision based on calm and direct assessment and reconnaissance. Trust was a major factor in this, and trust is something we have accumulated due to a couple years working and training together.  When the time came, our response was so natural we took it for granted until we discussed it and realized with most anyone else we would have responded differently. 

By the way, one of the two officers standing closest to us was wearing a full size Glock, probably a Glock 21 (.45) and the other seemed to be wearing an XD…I could only see the grip of his gun from where I was sitting, but in thinking about it later the grip pattern looked to be that of an XD service model. That officer was missing his baton, the other had all his gear including the baton.  I couldn’t see the third officer well enough to see what his weapon was.  Just thought y’all would like to know what guns they had!

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