What Makes a Warrior?
Tracy E. Barnhart
I have written many
training articles and trained many individuals who I hope never need the tactics
and strategies that I have shown. I often wonder while pondering and
reminiscing of old times hoping that I told each student everything that I knew
or have shown them the details of the tactics necessary to subdue the resisting
individual. However, I always return to the same thought, what makes a
warrior? In a very real sense, corrections employees serve more time
in prison than many inmates, they just serve it in eight-hour installments! The
famous criminologist, James B. Jacobs noted, "A career correctional
officer in effect commits himself to a life sentence in prison."
The corrections profession
has evolved into American Icons, the Warrior Elite. Why? What makes them
tick? Why does the individual officer stand head and shoulders above
all other Professional Warrior wannabes? The answers are complex. True,
corrections officers today are a Para-military force, but it is much more.
Correctional officers are an elite fraternity, a spiritual brotherhood. Entry
into our ranks is a calling. For most, earning the
title is closely akin to becoming a priest. Yet, the ethos of the
Warrior Culture of correctional officers is simple: prowess in conflict.
Each correctional officer,
past and present, has entered more than just the Brotherhood. He has become,
and will always remain, part of a mystical fellowship of valor. He must comply
with hallowed rituals. He must conform to an uncompromising code of honor,
discipline, and personal integrity. Commitment to his agency and moral strength
become the norm. Throughout history, these virtues have sustained Warriors
during the chaos and perils of combat. You may be able to win without fighting,
and that is preferable. But, it is harder, and the enemy may not
The mission and the
accomplishment of that mission are grander than your own well being. Warriors
have a calling and those individual warriors would serve a higher calling even
if there was no conflict to fight. Some individuals were meant to call
911; and some individuals were meant to be 911. What make courageous
individuals knowingly and willingly walk into a maximum security prison, the so
called, Belly of the Beast, or respond effectively to a call for assistance in
a rioting pod? A modern day correctional warrior.
Of every one hundred men, ten shouldnt even be
Eighty are nothing but targets;
Nine are real fighters.We are lucky to have
them.They make the battle.
Ah; but one; one of them is a Warrior.And he
will bring the others back.
Heraclitus (Circa 500 B.C.)
Once they have earned the
title and entered the Brotherhood of corrections, then the new warrior can draw
upon the legacy of his newly acquired brotherhood. Therein lays their strength.
In return, the strength of the agency lies in the individual officer. The
character (often defined as "what you are in the dark") of these
warriors is defined by the three constant Organization Values: honor,
courage, and commitment.
HONOR: Honor requires each officer to exemplify the ultimate standard in
ethical and moral conduct. Honor is many things; honor requires many things. A
law enforcement and correctional officer must never lie, never cheat, never
steal, but that is not enough. Much more is required. Each officer must cling to
an uncompromising code of personal integrity, accountable for his actions and
holding others accountable for theirs. And, above all, honor mandates that an
officer never sully the reputation of the profession.
"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the
heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble
and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In
our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution,
or as always, even death itself.
The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for?
What is worth living for?
William J. Bennett
United States Naval Academy
November 24, 1997
COURAGE: Simply stated, courage is honor in action, and more. Courage is
moral strength, the will to heed the inner voice of conscience, the will to do
what is right regardless of the conduct of others. It is mental discipline, an
adherence to a higher standard. Courage means willingness to take a stand for
what is right in spite of adverse consequences. This courage, throughout the
history has sustained officers during the chaos, perils, and hardships of
conflict. And each day, it enables each officer to look in the mirror, and be
The harder that you work; the harder it is to
COMMITMENT: Total dedication to profession and brotherhood.
Teamwork. All for one, one for all. By whatever name or cliché,
commitment is a combination of selfless determination and a relentless
dedication to excellence. Officers never give up, never give in, and never
willingly accept second best. Excellence is always the goal. Commitment never
dies even after the badge is retired or a folded flag is handed to your
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you
want to test a mans character, give him power.
Honor, Courage, Commitment,
they make up the bedrock of the character of each individual officer. They are
the foundation of the Organization these three values, handed down from
generation to generation, have made law enforcement and correctional officers
the Warrior Elite. Speaking specifically about correctional officers, but I
think that it also applies to law enforcement officers, C.T. Mangrum stated;
There is not much
that average correctional officers can do about their external environments, but
they can change their self-images, gain pride, and place emphasis on
professional behavior. Officers must be committed to professionalism and must
be competent, credible, and confident. Commitment comes from action,
perseverance, and attitude. Competency must be gain and maintained. Credibility
must be earned internal and external to the individual and the organization.
Confidence ... flows from these other attributes and characteristics. It is a
widely accepted belief that the officer who has a solid educational background,
professional supervision, ongoing in-service training, and continuous
professional development will be better able to cope with the external
influences that will have a continuing impact on corrections.
It is not the critic who counts, not the one
who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have
done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who
errs and comes up short time and time again; who knows the great enthusiasms,
the great devotions, and spends himself a worthy cause; who if he wins knows the
triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring
greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who
know neither victory or defeat.
Draw upon the pride and
knowledge of our predecessors before us and revel in the knowledge that you walk
among greatness. The profession that you have chosen is one of greatness and
pride. The image that you create will not only affect you but the entire image
of us all. Take pride in yourself and in your profession. Walk tall and revel
in the path of greatness that our forefathers cut into society. Train as if
your life depends upon it; because, someday it just might.
Why does it take a
crisis to make us aware of what is important?
Typically, it takes a crisis to make us change the way we do business. Today,
corrections are in such a crisis. As unprecedented demands are placed on it, as
violence escalates among our inmates, as the threat of terrorism persists,
today's officers confront a range of issues and challenges more ominous than
their counterparts of even two decades ago could have imagined. Agencies must
move to a new style of leadership that will assist them in increasing public
trust and increase effectiveness in resolving and avoiding future institutional
completion of a Marine Corps combat tour of
duty in Iraq in 1991, I completed the National
Registry requirements as an Emergency Medical
Technician. I responded to calls of emergency
medical nature for over three years until I
became a police officer for the City of Galion,
Ohio. I attended the Ohio State Highway Patrol
Academy where I attained my Ohio Peace Officers
Certification. After three years on patrol I
was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant where I
was in command of the patrol first shift
motivating, stimulating and educating over 10
patrol officers under my supervision. I
established active community oriented policing
concepts and strategies that promoted a
stronger law enforcement / community
relationship. Later leaving the City of Galion
I was hired as the Chief of Police for the City
of Edison, Ohio for the next three years. With
a total of ten years experience in a law
enforcement capacity I changed careers leaping
into the realm of corrections where I am
currently employed at the Marion Juvenile
Correctional Facility and have been since its
inception in 2000.
I have attended
countless continuing educational courses
through the P.A.T.C., Ohio Peace Officers
Training Academy and the Ohio State Highway
Patrol. I currently instruct law enforcement
and correctional courses for the Ohio Peace
Officers Training Academy as well as the Ohio
Department of Youth Services. I am the Law
Enforcement coordinator the Tri-Rivers Public
Safety Adult Education where I coordinate and
conceive continuing educational courses for law
enforcement and correctional officers. I have
established courses on verbal de-escalation,
Criminal behavior analysis, Use of force, and
ground fighting and take down techniques for
law enforcement. I am currently training in
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to further my knowledge and
combative base so that the information and
techniques I instruct are tested and proven to
work. I not only train proven techniques in
the academy, I test them on a daily basis
inside my facility.