Private Security

Phone Call Leads to National Partnership

An entry by Bill Singleton

In July 2016, I was four months into my “retirement” as a police officer of 19 years when we received a training inquiry.  I had seen hundreds of training inquiries during my 5 years with Vistelar, but this one was different.

It was the National Retail Federation.

They wanted us to conduct a de-escalation workshop at their annual NRF Protect conference (June 26-28, 2017 in Washington DC).  Vistelar has trained in almost every market and profession, but the scope of this was enormous.  I knew I had to call them immediately.

I dialed the phone and began speaking with the Vice President of Loss Prevention, Bob Moraca.  I instantly felt a connection with Bob and stopped thinking about this inquiry as a “task” or “job”, but more like a project that needed viable solutions.

The problem – aggression had increased in the retail industry and loss prevention was asking for conflict management training program to help intervene and prevent further discord.

Bob and I started talking regularly on the phone and quickly began to put a plan into action.  As our partnership grew, a friendship started to develop and soon we were putting the final touches on what will be a great 2017 NRF Protect Conference.

With the help of Bob, the NRF and his colleagues, Vistelar is unveiling a new manual, a live conflict management workshop for loss prevention, and a new two-hour loss prevention online course (complete with video scenarios all related to retail).

We’ve never had a partnership to this extent.  And I’ve never had a friendship like this before.  On June 26th, the world will be introduced to Vistelar’s training and I will finally get to meet my good friend, Bob.  We are truly grateful and we’re looking forward to it.  We will see you June 26-28th in Washington DC!

What Type of Instructor are You?


This is Gary Klugiewicz.

I am the director of training for Verbal Defense & Influence that I recently had an phone conversation with Doug Lynch, one of our Vistelar Trainers.  He asked an an important question about the difference types of instructors that I wanted to share with you.

His question to people who provide instruction to others was What type of Instructor are you?

I asked him to provide his thoughts on this question that I posted below:

When I first started as an instructor, I proudly called myself a trainer. I was in front of people and telling stories, showing PowerPoints, getting a few laughs and told to come back again. I thought I could train. But, my students were failing to do what I needed them to do once they left the class. Was it me? Was it them? Was it both? Thus, started my journey.

I sought out mentors and coaches and was lucky enough to meet and learn from some of the best in the business; Gary Klugiewicz, Bob Lindsey, Peter Jaskulski, Dave and Betsy Smith, Jack Hoban, and about a dozen more. I am thankful for their patience and transfer of knowledge. It became apparent I was a Presenter, not a trainer. There was much more that needed to be accomplished in a classroom than just getting people to agree with what I was instructing.

Below is a small bit of that information to help  instructors better understand what they are doing, what they are capable of and what they need to be able to perform to master a style/level. It helps us to explain to non-instructors what to look for and what to expect from different styles/levels. In most cases, these are levels, not styles. Instructors progress through them from 1 to 4 over a career/lifetime. But, there are always exceptions.

  1. Presenter / Presentation: Passive, lays out information for students. Minimal, if any, checks for understanding, learning and performance are done. To become a Presenter, one becomes proficient at public speaking and holding the audiences interest.
  2. Teacher / Teach: Passive, guides students through information, confirms cognitive knowledge.
  3. Trainer / Train: Active, students learn how to perform tasks, ability to perform under stress confirmed.
  4. Coach / Coaching: Efficient, mastery of the levels below them. Able to TRAIN people to be competent at any of the first three levels.

His categories illustrate an increase in both competency and effectiveness that I find thought-provoking.   Do we want our instruction to merely provide information or do we want it to provide skills and changes in long-term behavior?  As with most things, the answer depends on who you are instructing, your purpose, and the length of time you have to do it.

Please post your comments below.

Are you really trying to persuade a person to do something or are you just checking off the boxes.

Hello,  This is Gary Klugiewicz.

Dave Young and I just finished facilitating a four day Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor Class at the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office located near Minneapolis, MN.  It was a very interesting class with lots of interaction with the instructors in the class.   Daniel Zeller, a security patrol lieutenant for Mall of America, brought up an interesting observation that he had made about how officers sometimes use persuasion during officer / citizen contacts.   In VDI training, we spend a great deal of time on the Persuasion Sequence that is a five step process for persuading a person to do what an officer is asking them to do.   Dan has seen this process sometimes circumvented so that it becomes a checklist that allows an officer to take action rather than a vehicle for de-escalation of conflict.   This problem goes way beyond public safety applications and impacts all contact professionals who have to deal with difficult persons.

Read on to see what this VDI Instructor has to say about this issue:

“In regards to the Persuasion Sequence when we are in contact with a subject and want them to do something, some officers may view it as merely a checklist or steps they need to follow in order to make an arrest. Rather than using the technique to generate voluntary compliance, cooperation, and collaboration, they fly through the options and confirming non-compliance because their department policy states that is what they are required to do prior to making an arrest under these circumstances. Although this does not occur with regularity, it can be assumed that it does occasionally happen.

With the newer officers they should be reminded that time is on our side. They should take the time to attempt to persuade the subject and not be so quick to throw on the handcuffs. It would be in our best interest to address it with our line officers and remind them that the Persuasion Sequence is there to do just that, persuade the subject to comply, rather than be taken into custody. We need to be in the guardian mindset and treat these people with dignity and respect.”

Thank you Lt. Zeller for this insight into the challenges of persuasion.   Tom Cline wrote an interesting article entitled “Are You a Helper or Hunter” in American Street Beat that can be accessed at  Are you functioning and using the persuasion sequence as a helper, i.e. protector or as a hunter, i.e., an enforcer?  While public safety officers and other contact professionals have to enforce laws, policies, and rules,  they must always remember that their primary function is that of a protector.   Remember that the purpose of the Persuasion Sequence is to generate voluntary compliance, cooperation, and compliance – not to be a vehicle to quickly take action.   By efficiently and effectively asking, explaining why, presenting options, and giving the person a second chance, you will have the best chance of persuading the person and not have to resort to taking action.

Please post your comments below.


A Missed Opportunity (or two)

Kati Tillema here. If you are a sports fan, and specifically follow NBA basketball, you probably have heard of an incident that escalated among the New York Knicks owner, a former player, and event security. There are two sides (or more) to every story and it is impossible to ever know exactly what transpired. However, I was reading an article about the situation and one thing did stand out to me: the former player, Charles Oakley, was quoted as having responded to the security guards informing him that he had to leave with the question “why?”

If you have been through a Verbal Defense & Influence class, you know that there was probably a missed opportunity by the security guards who escorted Mr. Oakley out of the stands. They may have been able to prevent the situation from escalating by approaching him with a Universal Greeting and immediately making the reason for their contact transparent. One of the Five Maxims for treating people with dignity by showing respect is to explain why – set context.

Maybe Mr. Oakley already knew the answer to the question. But at least he would have heard it, which may have reduced his sense of disrespect and could have prevented him from escalating quickly. Everyone wants to know why they are being asked (or told) to do something, so if you anticipate the question and address it immediately during an initial interaction, you can greatly increase the likelihood of a positive outcome; or in this case, avoid getting your picture on ESPN for something other than your athletic abilities.

If you read the full reports, the “why” question is just one of the many missed opportunites by everyone involved to non-escalate and de-escalate what happened. Read the full article here.

How to Non-escalate your next Loss Protection Customer Contact


This is Gary Klugiewicz.

Check out the post that we found on the wall at a Roundy’s Supermarkets Loss Protection Workshop that Vistelar conducted last week in Madison, WI.  The poster says it all in terms of retail store customer services – especially when the contact deals with possible shoplifting incidents where conflict can become intense.

“Are you ready for your next customer?”

Vistelar is working with Roundy’s Supermarkets to develop a loss protection conflict management program that addresses the entire spectrum of human conflict.   The focus of this training program is to train loss protection staff in ways to non-escalate potential conflicts, de-escalate conflict situations, manage persons in crisis, and training staff in how to manage distance, positioning, and hand placement to keep everyone safe.

This program is being create in conjunction with Tony Sherman and Pablo Velasquez from the Genesis Group who have decades of loss protection expertise.  Vistelar is working with Roundy’s Supermarkets will develop a loss protection workshop that will be easily translated to all types retail stores.  Emphasis will be focused on threat assessment, how to make initial contacts, in store escorts, conflict management strategies while waiting for law enforcement to arrive, and turnover procedures.  Watch for future postings as this program is developed.

Success story


This is Gary Klugiewicz with a great Peace Story video sent to us by Clifford Abel, a Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor who works in the security department of Broward College in Florida.  His story demonstrates the power of the Universal Greeting in initiating a positive contact that allows for the building of rapport that leads to the gathering of information that can prevent and/or reduce conflict.   Clifford approached a student involved in a verbal conflict with another student at the Broward College campus.  These contacts can either take place in a defensive or supportive atmosphere, i.e., the person being approached can either think about this approach as either being a positive or negative contact.  As is often is the case when a person in authority approaches a person unknown to them, the person reacts to the person in authority in a defense way and conflict can begin.   Clifford’s application of the Universal Greeting, Redirection,  Beyond Active Listening, and the Persuasion Tactics allowed for the change from a defensive atmosphere to a supportive one.  Watch the Video and see Clifford work his magic.

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Feel free to comment below.

Rudeness can be perceived as racist


This is Gary Klugiewicz.

I saw this electronic post a couple weeks ago and I have been thinking about it regularly.  I wanted to respond to it but didn’t know exactly how to do so.   The comment made by the chief in the original article linked below was that the comments were rude, not racist.   While he got the types of comments right being “rude” and “racist”, the “not” was not exactly right.

In our Verbal Defense & Influence training, we focus attention on the importance of the term “empathy” and our attempt to look at a situation through the other person’s eyes.  We refer to this as “Active Intelligence Gathering” and explain that, if you don’t know where the person is coming from  i.e., their perceptions, how can you know how to get them to assist you in taking them where you want them to go.

The trouble with being rude is that it is by itself unprofessional and counterproductive.   When your unprofessional behavior is viewed by someone who already believes that you may be a racist. then your rude behavior rapidly becomes what can be perceived as racist.  We spend a great deal of time in our training practicing the Universal Greeting, a professional introduction of “non-escalation” so we never start the slippery slide downhill from rudeness toward what can be perceived as racist behavior.   While we can’t change someone’s preconceived notions of us, we can do a lot to not escalate the negative atmosphere that often exists in a conflict situation.  Keeping the conversation professionally polite even when faced with an angry person will allow you to use “Active Intelligence Gathering” to find out what is causing the conflict. This will allow you the best chance of generating voluntary compliance, lead to cooperation, and even end up in collaboration.

Remember that you are not responsible for the bad decisions made by the person that you are interacting may make but you are responsible for the process.   You want to look good on camera, i.e. professional, where ever the situations ends up.

I look forward to your comments.  Please post them below.

Arma Training Edged Weapons Agency Wide Instructor Program

Dave Young here.

Inmates are the masters at developing and using improvised weapons. Every year corrections officers seize hundreds of improvised weapons confiscated inside their facilities. Everything from a file down comb to sharpen toothbrush to melted down plastic ware.  There is no limit is their imagination.

Your safety depends on your understanding what to look for; how do identifying threat indicators during contact; managing distance to control position; knowing what your escape routes are; and understanding when it is time to disengage.

The class then provided realistic “hands on” and “weapons on” responses to an edged weapon assaults.

In addition, on the front-end, the class covered how to de-escalate the situation and the back-end how to follow through after the incident to keep everyone safe both physically and legally.

Watch the video link below to see the class in action.

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I want to thank all the trainers in the state of West Virginia to include the West Virginia regional jails instructors on a great job, energy and effort this week!  See everybody again soon!


The Power of the SHOWTIME Mindset

Hello,  This is Gary Klugiewicz.  Dave Young and I are teaching a class next week at Access Services, a paratransit services company, located in El Monte, CA.   We will be training both law enforcement and transit professionals.  Watch for additional updates from the class.

I wanted to share this e-mail that I received that addressed the power of the SHOWTIME Mindset in preparing for and prevailing in stressful situations.  The fact that we are training transit professional next week provides a real tie in to this incident.   Cheryl Schattschneider, a Milwaukee area correctional officer, was assigned to drive her facility’s prisoner transportation bus and had to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).  Posted below is the e-mail that she sent me telling me about her experience and the power of the SHOWTIME Mindset in successfully completing her task.



I just wanted to take a moment to thank you. Without even knowing it, you (and VDI, really) helped me to pass my CDL road test. Allow me to explain with a bit of a background story added.

Since I am a K9 handler and weapon certified officer at the House of Correction, I was required to obtain my commercial driver’s license (CDL). I literally procrastinated as long as possible on doing this, as I am a self-proclaimed horrible driver and had absolutely NO desire to drive a bus. Unfortunately the day came that my administration held me accountable and I was pushed to achieve this goal that was set for me.  I was given four days of driving training and experience with Milwaukee County Transit (MCT) on a city bus, and scheduled to take my road test (including a long and technical pre-trip inspection portion) on a cold and snowy December morning. Keep in mind now, I am not at all mechanically inclined and I was afraid to drive a huge bus in even nice weather. Needless to say, I arrived for my test more than just a little bit nervous.

As I arrived early to my appointment, I spent about 30 minutes nervously waiting to meet my examiner and head to the dreaded bus for my test. Then, due to technical difficulties with her computer, I got to be nervous for an extra 30 minutes or so before we were ready to begin. When it was finally time, the examiner looked at me and asked, “Ready?” I nervously replied, “I think so.” The next thing she said to me was, “Okay, SHOWTIME!”

It was amazing how that one simple word had so much power in that moment. I felt myself smile for the first time all morning, and instantly had a sense of calmness and focus. “Showtime”…. I am NOT a mechanically challenged bad driver that should move to a place where it never snows. “Showtime”…. I AM a highly skilled bus driver that knows exactly what I’m talking about when pointing out all of the different parts of the suspension, engine, and brake systems. “Showtime”…. I got this!

So, long story long – I passed. I actually performed better than I thought I would. Not perfect, but pretty darn good. I’m sure the training I received throughout the week played a large role in that. But I also am positive that “Showtime” was what helped me to pull it all together in that moment and succeed.  So, THANK YOU and the VDI team for providing such great training to Milwaukee County Transit that they are clearly utilizing to help train others.

Cheryl A. Schattschneider


Cheryl,  Thank you for sharing your experience with us and reminding us that the SHOWTIME Mindset apply to all stressful situations.

Please provide your comments below to this post.

We would love to hear from you.  You can post your written or video post directly to me at using the vistelar password.  I will review your posts and contact you with any questions.  Or, you an contact me directly at  I look forward to your submissions.

Can Traumatic Brain Injuries lead to Homelessness?

Holiday Greetings to all of our readers.

As we celebrate the holidays with our families, let’s take a moment to think about those people who are less fortunate than us.   Take homeless persons as an example of people less fortunate than many of us.   Radio Health Journal recently did a program on the topic of Brain Based Injuries and Homelessness.  They discussed the possible factors that can lead to homelessness.   One of these factors was brain injuries.   We know that brain injuries can be a factor leading to Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) in our veterans.   We know that many veterans are homeless.   This audiotape discussion of the relationship between brain injuries and homelessness when coupled with plight of many of our veterans raise the possibility of an an interesting relationship between veterans and homelessness.   Listen to the audiotape and give us your comments.

Please do what you can do to support our homeless and our veterans in this time of holiday giving and remembrance.