We all have messages to share, each inspired or driven by something. Desire, passion, fear, angst, experience, belief, love. Soulful words whisk through you like salty wind in your hair. They sift out the sand, reveal truths, unleash everything. Let life stick to you. Put it in print.
Business, by nature, is personal. You create it, build it, live it, breathe it, protect it, sacrifice for it. So, sound your thunder. Be you a tadpole or a shark, be the envy of your competitors. Shout about your Inc from the rooftops. Paint the skyscrapers. Mark your territory.
Most brands rely on words and concepts to gain exposure and generate revenue. Effective marketing is a combination of creative and analytical sharpness fueled by imagination and a closet full of colorful thinking caps. Let the hangers fall. Let the horses play.
photography by www.bohemefox.com
Take me to the place I don’t know
Where I live without me
On the mountain’s breathless top
Where our life grows
Sing to me the song I can’t alone bellow
That sounds for us
Amid the forest’s bounty
Where our life grows
Sink me into the deep blue shadows
Where freedom breathes
Inside the sea’s pregnant belly
Where our life grows
On a whim I’d go
On your wings
Unveil my eyes and fly me home
Where you are waiting
So I can live
Where our life grows
Or carve for me a place to stow
Without these jagged edges
And bury me there in the dunes’ quiet sands
Until I can live
Where our life grows
art by www.rashellestetman.com
I juggle my unorganized laptop bag and daily grind gotta-haves and a grocery bag or two while trying to unlock the door. I gripe, but the quiet on the other side makes the jingle of my keys sting my insides, and I pause. I open the door and pretend not to notice. I wipe away tears or swallow them. Maybe there are some things time can’t mend. When that happens, all we can do is remember, and wait for the tales to come.
If you’ve ever hosted a yard sale, you know folks start following unwritten rules before the chickens get up. You know the flashlights will be shining at the edge of your driveway when you hit the garage door button. You yawn and stand there in your skivvies feeling hopeless. Long before the coffee has brewed (because you forgot to set the timer last night, you idiot), you recall the ad you ran in the local paper, and online, and placed at every intersection within a two-mile radius via posters – the same ads you carefully worded in a moment of fleeting enthusiasm to entice people to show up and dig through your discards.
Well, you better wake up because all of your ridiculous crap is still waiting to be dragged out into the yard. You meant to get up a few hours earlier, but when the alarm sounded, you slept through your regret. You pretended O’Dark-Thirty is not a sacred time in the realm of yard sale yahoo. So, like Wile E. Coyote, you stand there in the doorway, dumbfounded and paralyzed, a victim of your own foolish logic, just waiting for the anvil to fall from the sky.
To my great fortune, every time I attempted to clean house and garage, I had a yard sale wing man. I had Scout – the greatest yard sale dog in yard sale history. His method was simple but genius and guaranteed the sale of everything I ever inherited from my grandmothers that smelled like mothballs. That and boxes of dead batteries and computer cords and other questionable remains, and clothes that belonged in a 1980’s fashion vault, used bedding and towels, books that still smelled of my mom’s cigarettes, gaudy “what were you thinking” knickknacks, and always, at the end of the day, that one bin full of “please just take it.”
Once, Scout even sold another dog. My dear friend, Linda, witnessed it. She always knew when to pop the first cork because I would say, “Linda, pop a damn cork.” That’s how it started – the dog sale, I mean. We toasted to the littered yard and sat in our ratty lawn chairs situated in front of the fan in the garage. I barely had a chance to start whining about the heat when a shadow darted from my ugly hedges.
“Did you see that? What the heck was that?”
“I’m goin’ in,” Linda said and hopped up like we hadn’t just sat down for the last time before the chaos started.
“Wait, it’s a dog!” I assured her. “Hey, it’s comin’ back this way!”
The dreaded Hedge Monster kept her distance. And then came around, and then kept her distance. She hovered at the end of the thick, boring shrubbery lining my long, misshapen driveway, her tail wagging but legs poised to run. I stood up to go toward her, and she put them in motion. She had the spirited gait of a pup and was lean like she wasn’t being offered a bowl or two a day. I went inside and filled one with some of Scout’s kibble. I walked to the end of the hedges and put it down along with a water bowl. I noticed the sun coming up and, like clockwork, my neighbor Donald Daniel “No, you can’t borrow that Don Danny” Duncan, coming up the street.
“Scout!” I yelled. “You’re on, buddy!”
He was so busy investigating the rancid smells strewn about the yard, he hadn’t noticed the pup or our first customer. Scout trotted over to greet Don Danny who kindly returned the gesture. And so commenced the yard sale. I put on my sales hat and followed, wondering which of Don Danny’s woes our small talk would encompass. Anything but the government ones involving uranium, I hoped.
“Mornin’ darlin',” he said. “Got a bad back today, so can’t take nothin’ heavy. You got any mulch? Some fertilizer maybe? I got my nephew comin’ over to spruce up my plants ‘round the porch.”
I wrapped my arm around his like a prom date as I escorted him up the driveway. I glanced to my left and noticed the bowl I’d left for the pup was empty. While Don Danny treasure hunted, I refilled it and moved it up the driveway a bit, toward the garage.
Cars and vans and pick-ups came in and out, finding makeshift parking spots. Neighbor Sandra stopped by to remind us all about the Lord and neighbor Cindy snuck around the back and offered me weed. I declined all around, but I think Scout got the best of both worlds, which, in hindsight, only makes sense.
And that’s about how it went, except at the point I looked to Linda for a dose of sanity and saw the pup – the mysterious pup who had wandered so whimsically upon my yard sale – flat on her back reveling in belly rubs while Scout encouraged visitors to line right up for belly rub therapy. I could have stayed a bit longer in that moment than reality allowed.
“You got any extra rope?” “I’m lookin’ for ceramic pots.” “How much is this set of corncob holders?” “What size are these kitchen towels?” “Is this real plywood?” “I love the smell of turpentine.” “You got any firearms?” “I just like to talk to strangers.”
Scout and the pup took turns lapping water from the hose a young boy had ventured to turn on. Scout didn’t shut up about it and the pup rolled around in the pools that formed in the grass. The young boy played for a while as his mom carefully looked through boxes and his dad milled about. The dad struck up a jovial conversation with another visitor. They spoke in Spanish, and for the camaraderie they shared, I sure wish I’d learned their language. The young boy’s mom eyed him and the pup along with an “antiqued” shelf I had for sale. She spent an extra long time picking out simple household items, paid for them, and motioned to the boy it was time to go. Reluctantly, he turned off the spigot.
Visitors waned after the noon hour. Scout had collected ten phone numbers and me and Linda were ready for ten martinis. By three o’clock, traffic finally subsided to familiar neighborhood cars, and I sat with Linda in front of the fan, sweaty and far too tired to care about sales. All that was left to do was pray for whatever was left in the yard to magically disappear or catch on fire. Scout and the pup rested side by side, trying to benefit from any breeze that came their way. I had about given in to the idea that she would be staying when the young boy’s car pulled up to the curb again.
The pup perked up like she recognized the sound of the engine’s idle and headed right down toward the car. She stopped a ways before it and sat as if at attention. Scout trotted down to join her. The back seat door opened wide and a loud whistle sounded from inside – the kind like when you put two fingers in your mouth and bite down so the air pushes over your tongue allowing you to make a loud beckoning sound. The pup sprang into the backseat of the young boy’s car, and Scout settled to a resting position on the ground. He opened his mouth to gently pant, expressing a look of content. Linda and I watched from our front row seats in the garage.
The car idled for a minute more, the door still open. The young boy climbed out and walked up my yard toward me. I got up to meet him. He looked at the ground as he walked, and I saw he wore a serious face. We stood silent before one another. The young boy clearly had no time to spare. He pulled his right hand from his pocket and held it out to me, upward with his fingers curled, holding tight to something. I opened my eyes wide and gave him a little smile of encouragement and held my hand out in return. His round, boyish eyes watered to their brink, and he turned his hand over and placed it atop mine. Two quarters he let go in my hand and hurried off.
“Pop a damn cork, Linda!” I called out. She always knew when it was time.
photography by www.bohemefox.com
It began with extraordinary entrance. The carport door flung open and Sister's grand silhouette posed in the doorway, structured and tense in a way I'd never seen. She called to me and her voice froze me. Not because I was afraid, but because I could tell from the tone of it that she was, and that terrified me more than anything. Sister called to me like a concerned mother, with that unmistakable tone, the one that knows and questions at the same time, the one that at once shows no mercy while begging for that it summons.
"Caroline!" was all she shouted.
The force of it stole my breath. The hose I twirled about to whimsically decorate the space above me with pretty water designs fell from my limp hand as I looked up to recognize the source of Sister's concern. Behind the cheery parade of sun-laced clouds I'd come to trust, a line of darkness swarmed. I did not expect the fixed picture that met my glance, for my focus was on fleeting water drops and the relief their cool temperature brought my skin. A black wall stared back at me, one that painted its own changing shapes and swerves as if to mock the elementary nature of my attempt at art. The wind picked up speed I didn't know it was capable of, and I looked around only to realize I was alone in the yard against a force that seemed as powerful as
any Pastor Lawrence had mentioned during Sunday sermon.
I could tell by Sister's out-reached arms that I shouldn't waste any time at the spigot turning off the water. Normally, such activity would earn me an hour of weed pulling and a lecture about the hardships of drought, but in that moment I understood the immediacy of shelter to be paramount. My feet engaged themselves seemingly without instruction, but moved me along as though plagued by their own state of disbelief. I fled, but time stood still. With every stride the carport grew farther away and the sky marched closer. Determined to be reckoned with, it moved deliberately, unlike its stealthy approach. The wind worked to impede my progress at first, pushing against my chest, then tagged me from behind as if playing a game, thrusting me toward my goal
Tears blurred my image of Sister in the doorway, and I wiped them away as I escaped toward the refuge of her arms. Clearer vision revealed a circling sky, colored with swirls of grey and eerie, green hues like shades of paint mixing together. As they blended, blackness soaked into the sky like an angry sponge. A short distance behind Nana’s house, a remorseless arm reached down from the storm's swollen belly. I could only imagine it intended to steal trinkets made of oak trees and homes to keep as souvenirs. Fear enveloped me and encouraged me to reach Sister.
I can recall the events of the next several minutes only like those of a dream – in bits and pieces that don’t seem to flow, but somehow maintain order enough to make sense. I remember the concrete floor of the carport under my feet, then Sister's firm grip just beneath my shoulders as she scurried me inside and down the back stairs. The electricity flickered and was gone. I remember a corner and how Sister covered me. Her mass hid me from what natural light would have allowed me to see until her back tired and her weight shifted, exposing me to seldom seen looks on familiar faces. Like snapshots they appeared out of darkness in the patches of light that flashed through the ground level window above us and vanished only to appear again in varied form. The strobe-like effect made me dizzy, but, mesmerized, I could not avert my eyes. I strained them to make sense of the chaos outside. Nana's lawn furniture danced in the sky. Tree branches and shingles whisked by as if they had somewhere to go. Pieces of everything speckled the view. The wind made such noise it became something other than wind. It carried on like an obnoxious machine I wanted desperately to unplug, but couldn't. Its power was unstoppable. There was no cord to trace, no switch to manipulate, no closet to shove it in.
Sister had talked about this kind of storm. She called them wind monsters and said they lived inside thunderstorms but didn't come out very often. I think she fibbed about that part because she was always watching the sky and telling us to mind the weather. I figured she had a sense about these kinds of things and recognized presence before any witnessing ever took place. This time Sister was right about her intuition because it moved past the front porch and roared in lieu of ringing the bell.
For a few frozen seconds silence blanketed the room now thick with darkness. In this paralyzing
quiet we waited for it to choose between devastation and deliverance. There in Sister's arms, the trauma overcame me and I surrendered the stress of it all to an unconscious state. In the morning I would wake to find we endured both sacrifice and preservation. In the crisp dawn hours I would emerge from my pleasant state of blissful ignorance to hear words uglier and crueler than any joke I'd imagined one of nature's beasts could play.
Sister patted my cheeks with a bit of sting, slipped her hearty arm underneath the back of my neck and raised me to her, rocking me gently.
"Wake up, child" she repeatedly muttered, waiting patiently for my eyes to abandon their hibernation and accomplish the duty of focus.
"Your brother, he is missing," she explained.
Though barely roused, the pain of Sister's words penetrated me like a knife. I could think only of her funny phrase "wind monster," which suddenly became not only an indelible part of my vocabulary, but one whose otherwise cryptic, dormant meaning instantly sprouted to life.
There’s a fire in your love. And a calm. It shows in the way you embrace each other, as if you are at once experiencing something new and making up for something old. You have a togetherness worth everything. After all, anyone who’d fall from the sky for true love must surely leap so in acknowledgment of the times they’d tumble, in hopes of the places they’d fly.
There was a plane and a ring and a winter wedding with nothing but nature to decorate it. And as nature would have it, the bride wore a perfect veil of snowflakes in her hair, and the groom wore humble eyes frozen on her lovely face until their kiss brought cheer from family.
Your promises were made in a winter wonderland. And now a summer celebration with so many fans of your union took place with the Front Range in the background – how stunning and symbolic.
Moises and Elise, may your life together be vast and abundant like Colorado’s open, blue skies, and may you traverse the hills and valleys together, always mindful and in celebration of the fire in your love. And the calm.
Shapes that cut you
Edges that define you
Hills that build you
Valleys that save you
Run your fingers along their lines
Moments that change you
Challenges that strike you
Truths that expose you
Friends who cherish you
Find yourself amid their shine
Times that throw you
Curves that try you
Regrets that haunt you
Self that doubts you
Keep whittling with your knife
Now that I have your attention, the first thing I'm going to do is disappoint you. Next, I'll shock you, then I'll inform you, and perhaps I'll even implore you. And, finally, I hope to inspire you. By now you've gathered that I'm not about to explore anything that will spark your prurient interest. Enough said about disappointment. Regarding shock, well, let me just say that the topic of my conversation is going to be children. And whenever that topic is used in conjunction with those subject to censorship, the unthinkable inevitably follows. In Florida, that all adds up to one word – dependency. The word alone conjures up visions of need, which suits so many of Florida's youth just fine because that's what kids who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned are in. Need. Need of somebody to care for them, support them, nurture them, parent them. Often times what they get is the state of Florida to call "Mom and Dad." Unfortunately, Florida is a poor parent and doesn't treat its children well.
What brings Florida youths to the dependency system is any number of events, each marked by suffering. A five-year-old boy is burned repeatedly with an iron by his mom and he wears fresh bruises down his already scarred back. A ten-year-old girl is raped and sodomized over a four year period by her father. Her mother doesn't believe her. A thirteen-year-old girl is held at gun-point by her uncle while in his care and learns the hard way about incest while her sister plays in the next room. Three young siblings are left alone in a filthy home while their parents are out smoking crack. When they come home, they'll smoke it in the house. A premature newborn fights for his life. He is his mother's seventh cocaine baby. He has no name. These are dependent children, adjudicated so on a staggeringly regular basis in Dade County by judges of the 11th Judicial Circuit. Their stories are unexaggerated and common; their endings are often tragic.
The goal of the dependency system, theoretically, is to rehabilitate and reunite the family. In Dade County, children have the right to a caring, nurturing home, free from abuse and neglect. It's the state's job to help the family provide such an environment to its children. What it usually means is that dependent children linger in foster care for years waiting for permanency. Shortage of funding, manpower, and common sense are the culprits.
Although Florida is not a poor state, its leaders fail to allocate adequate funding, which, in turn, breeds a shortage of people available to handle the overburdened juvenile system and results in kids falling through the cracks. And although Florida is not an unintelligent state, its leaders fail to recognize the need for a system that gives the child top priority, which, in turn, saddles the child with the weight of the system and results in kids never rising from the depths.
Children in dependency proceedings face months and even years away from their families, being shuffled from placement to placement, and an overwhelming sense of loneliness.
Who is there for them? Who watches out for them? Not an attorney! Children in dependency proceedings aren't entitled to an attorney, but their parents are. If they get lucky, some kids will be appointed an attorney by the court, but most are swept up in a current of authority and become involuntary participants in proceedings they cannot begin to understand, much less tread.
For the time being, the lay Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is Florida's remedy. The GAL is a trained volunteer who represents the best interest of children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. The GAL gathers information, visits the children, talks to doctors, teachers, and counselors, and assesses first-hand what the decision maker cannot. The GAL then makes reports to the court regarding the best interests of the child. In effect, the GAL becomes the eyes and ears of the court. It is not an easy job, but it is rewarding. If you can stomach the harsh nature of the cases, I highly recommend it. The job comes with plenty of benefits that make up for the lousy pay - courtroom experience, speaking in front of a judge, community involvement, and the opportunity to help a child's life improve by leaps and bounds.
The GAL undergoes twenty hours of training which focuses on the dependency process and the history and issues surrounding child abuse. Upon completion, the trainee is sworn in by a judge as a Guardian Ad Litem. Then come the faces. Suddenly, children are no longer names on a piece of paper or subjects of a news story. Now, they stand before you asking why they can't go home, what they did wrong, and where Mommy or Daddy is. They want to go home. Abuse is better than not having a family, they reason. The GAL can report the child's desires to the court, but the GAL must always consider the best interest of the child, which is rarely to return to an abusive home, no matter how miserable the child appears. The risk must be removed from the home before the child can return. It can take months, years, or may never happen at all.
Florida's juvenile system is often criticized for its "best interest" model. In Florida, because children are not entitled to attorneys in dependency proceedings, the child's "expressed interests" are not zealously advocated for, and the child's voice is effectively drowned out. While the best interests of the child will be brought to the court's attention, there is no guarantee that the child's own wishes will be heard. Moreover, because the two don't always coincide, this means that a crucial voice is missing from the courtroom. It is hard, then, to imagine justice being accomplished.
The same is true of an "expressed interest" model on its own. A child's age and maturity can be vital in determining whether to grant the child's wishes. Conflicts often arise for attorneys representing children, but it is the attorney's obligation to advocate for what the client wants, regardless of "best interests." But is a ten-year-old child capable of making life-altering decisions and determining what is in his or her own best interest? Emotions run high in dependency cases. Making rational choices and remaining objective can be extremely difficult. Here, the GAL is essential.
Ideally, every child in the system should have an attorney and a paid GAL. This would ensure that the child, who ought to be the focus of and most important party to the proceedings, receives both a partisan advocate for his voice and an impartial, motivated, well-trained advocate for his best interests. But, the legislators aren't listening. It's amazing what children will adapt to, and they know it. By setting the standard for an acceptable dependency system at ground zero, Florida takes advantage of that naivete. Our children deserve better. What the state will tolerate is unacceptable when the bottom line is so simple. Bel Kaufman said it best: "Children are the true connoisseurs. What's precious to them has no price, only value."
Major Mark Puetz, now a ten-year veteran of CIS, has a few call signs under his belt. A former U.S. Marine and one time CIS Echo, Bravo, Sierra, Command, and Delta, you can bet his boots flaunt mud. Now the Director of Risk Management and Professional Standards at CIS for 8 years, if you’ve never met Major Puetz, don’t fret, that’s a good thing. If you don’t ever want to meet him, that’s even better! Avoiding a visit to his office is a smart move. But, if you don’t know much about him, that’s about to change.
For a decade, Major Puetz has been instrumental in shaping CIS – from the field to the classroom to the boardroom – he has been a dedicated, valuable and very proactive member of the CIS team. For his ability, knowledge, leadership and integrity, CEO KC Poulin is pleased to announce Major Puetz’s promotion to Director of Risk Management and Professional Standards – a title duly earned. At the CEO’s request, I sat down with Mark to find out a bit about him in order to share some of his history and his climb up the CIS ranks. What I found out is that it makes a lot of sense that Mark has excelled at CIS.
Mark grew up in central Ohio and studied criminology and philosophy at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Not your average freshman, Mark had direction from the beginning, his interest being law enforcement. “I never had any sympathy for predators,” he declared. “I wanted to be part of a team involved in keeping them off the streets,” he said with conviction. Criminology classes taught Mark to think about criminals and their actions in terms of “why,” rather than “what happened,” and philosophy classes taught him how to understand thought processes – they taught him to think about thinking.
In case it all sounds a bit too bookish, here’s something that might surprise you. Amid the intellectual rigor and stimulating culture in which he was admittedly blissfully submersed, Mark enlisted in the Marine Corps. He went through boot camp and completed his bachelor’s degree as part of a commissioning program, and drilled with a reserve unit during college. The Marine Corps experiences Mark describes are clearly meaningful and lasting: sniper school, noncommissioned officer school, marine corps leadership, Paris Island, drill and ceremonies, PT, the brotherhood, the camaraderie. During his enlistment, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the Gulf War heated up. It was war on new territory – the desert – so he got to experiment with all sorts of new military gear. “We were doing anti-terrorism before anti-terrorism was cool,” he recalled with a grin.
After leaving the military, Mark went home to Ohio to “think” about a new direction. That took him down a path or two. He held some typical security jobs, a couple of summer jobs as camp counselor and “worked” as a wilderness guide in the Adirondack Mountains which led to a job truly working with seriously at risk youth in an outdoor environment in Pennsylvania. Mark liked the philosophy of the program because it was centered around alternative approaches to imprisonment and helped change the lives of troubled youths. Mark’s journey then led him to Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice where the program he became part of exposed him to intricate details and insight into youth gang life. He began to study youth gangs and decided he would be limited in that field without an advanced degree. He wanted something versatile and he chose USF’s MBA program for that very reason – so he could go in any direction.
In 1998, Mark hung out his own shingle and started a consulting business. He wanted to use analytical thought processes to help struggling business owners find their vision and establish direction for their companies (a healthy combination of his education and experience). While getting his business established, he looked for a night job and eventually spotted an ad for employment at CIS. Soon he became more involved with what he was doing at CIS and the methodology he was implementing and eventually gave CIS his full-time attention. Working at CIS was akin to what he aimed to do when he studied criminology and worked in programs designed to help juvenile delinquents.
Mark’s career at CIS began in the field as an Echo like everyone else, and while his military background provided the tactical experience for the job, his background working with delinquent juveniles gave him the street awareness he needed to work with different properties and engage with residents. From the get go Mark was constantly looking for ways to understand things and make them work better in ways that made sense. Even as an Echo he would actually analyze the properties he patrolled for their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. And, knowing they would reveal a bigger picture, he tracked his findings. He maintained spreadsheets tracking every Violation Notice or Trespass Warning issued, of every suspicious person or vehicle, or every piece of intelligence that he did not yet fully understand. He was right, and before long, patterns started to emerge in the data. As he shared his discoveries and thoughts, his superiors took notice. After a year or two he was called in-house where he was given various projects involving breaking something down and using analytical thought processes to rebuild it into something better, something more effective or efficient. Over the years, Mark has engaged in improving the quality of processes and programs in virtually every department and aspect of CIS – hiring, training, accounting, HR, management, operations, and the list goes on. Now, if a system needs to be rethought, Mark is the go to person.
For his efforts he was promoted to Senior Master Sergeant and started doing more and more of these types of tasks in multiple departments and soon wound up as Deputy Commander working very closely with the Chief. Along the way, he started communicating with insurance adjusters and attorneys and was progressively given more and more responsibilities. In 2006, the executive staff decided to rewrite CIS’ standard operating procedures. It started out as a small, group effort project, but once Mark “did his thing on it,” it became a precedent setting project resulting in a 300 page SOP manual rivaling those used in law enforcement agencies. Recognizing connectivity with the officers was waning because the organization was growing so significantly, the group set out to ensure they had a “tool to let officers know what we expect,” he said of the task. Mark described the SOP manual as “part treatise, part manual, part culture.” “It is meant to guide [officers] and help them understand what CIS is all about,” he explained. In 2009, the manual was finally published. Mark was an integral part of that major accomplishment and he received the CEO Coin in recognition of his hard work.
Mark’s has been an ever-evolving job that has often been reshaped and redefined over the last ten years. The Risk Management and Professional Standards Department was established right before the SOP rewrite began. Mark was given the rank of Major. Today, that department manages lawsuits, worker’s compensation, internal affairs investigations and professional standards, and maintains relations with the Division of Licensing, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, law enforcement and much more. The responsibility is tremendous and of great importance, especially to an agency that places so much emphasis on maintaining integrity and leadership in the industry.
So, what keeps Mark at CIS? Part of what keeps him here he says is “the methodology and working with how it can best be deployed.” For Mark it goes back to alternative approaches, breaking stuff apart and rigorous thought process. You will recall he liked those things about his criminology and philosophy studies, and he gets it all at CIS. “CCBPI is an alternative approach and it is effective for getting rid of predators,” he remarked. And “disagreements,” among commanders, he says, “are usually only about how to do it best.” He likes that. “Quality processes are key to substantial growth,” he advises,” and “improving the quality of our programs is all about analytical thought processes.” Through creations of his own and through those of others at CIS, Mark has seen “tremendous improvements and a lot of growth and change” over the years.
His best advice when it comes to new ideas? “Never marry an idea. Count on it getting thrown out there and getting beat up, but something will get implemented.” From Echo to Director, Mark has been casting ideas, scrutinizing systems and helping shape CIS into the industry leader it has become. His work is both commendable and representative of the remarkable career paths CIS has to offer. Mark is the first member of command staff to be promoted to such a top-ranking position and CIS is proud of both this pinnacle he has reached and the opportunity to help him achieve it. Going forward, Mark will, without a doubt, put a great deal of thought into his new role as Director, set the bar high, and, of course, continue the processes!
Critical Intervention Services (CIS) announces its partnership with Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, established for the purpose of implementing a novel and comprehensive national model for school safety, security and protection beginning October 1, 2013.
In 2011, CIS resolutely committed its resources to developing a new approach to managing school vulnerabilities and building a model based on practical, effective strategies for preventing school violence now and into the future. The result of years of research, analysis and program development, CIS’ comprehensive strategy is based on the intense study of actual, identified vulnerabilities and patterns of violence from school shooting events spanning nine decades and occurring not only in the US, but also in Russia and China. Factual analysis of these school shootings, both historical and present-day, has greatly impacted CIS’ model and helped shape its primary focus of effectively protecting schools from active shooters and other types of violence.
To transition the program from model into motion, CIS began collaborating with Shorecrest in January of this year to implement its new public safety approach in pursuit of strengthening the safety, security and protection of students and all members of the campus community. The CIS model mandates armed School Protection Officers (SPOs) on campus, upgrades and enhances procedures for all emergency alerts and overall significantly fortifies the physical security of facilities and individuals within the campus.
Making school environments such as Shorecrest safer and more secure to better protect students, faculty, staff and all who volunteer or visit a school campus is CIS’ paramount interest. Consequently, CIS’ program is intended to create a national model that others can adopt and apply to meet their security needs. Toward that end, The John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, a highly reputable institution instrumental in the Sandy Hook Newtown security review, is joining CIS in its endeavor to provide solid peer review and take lessons learned to other school systems and educational institutions to benefit from shared knowledge and implementation of the CIS model.
Critical Intervention Services has pioneered many innovative methodologies and services within the realm of private sector-led public safety and enjoys a long history of developing unique and effective solutions to complex security problems. Although universities, private and public schools, and many public venues have relied on the presence of armed officers for decades, CIS has developed a methodology that employs highly trained armed officers working with tools and skill sets not typically used in conjunction with school or campus environment security. CIS’ threat assessment methodology and approach far exceeds the norm of present-day school security measures. From the hiring process to personnel matching to training, education and placement in the field, CIS’ methodology focuses on prevention of school violence and exacts great care and effort from every SPO officer.
Combating school violence is no longer something to ponder or debate. It is simply a reality that must be expertly managed both proactively and during a crisis. CIS’ new public safety model for school environments is specifically tailored to counter and control the complex issues inherent in protecting one of our nation’s most precious assets – our schools.