Tag Archives: security

So, You Want to Go to the GOP Convention…

No.  Don’t.  Stay away.

It’s not that I don’t like Cleveland.  I’m not saying this due to any political feelings.  I’m stating this due to my perspective as a former Secret Service agent who has worked events like the Olympic Games, a couple of inauguration’s, and the 2000 DNC Convention in L.A.  Stay home.  Unless your home is in Cleveland.  Then, you should leave.

Any major political event has challenges and all draw emotionally charged people with conflicting points of view.  Even in election years when our society seems to have become polarized and the Democratic and Republicans have platforms so far apart the Juno spacecraft would have trouble covering the distance, most of the security challenges can be overcome to a reasonable extent.  Normally, there are countermeasures and logistical solutions to potential threats and disturbances.  Normally, manpower can be added and technological tools can be utilized to secure a site.  This is not normally.

This election season, guns and violence are not just part of the rhetoric used by factions of supporters.  Some prominent political personalities have actually encouraged violence while, in the same breath, expressing a love of guns.  The situation in Cleveland is compounded by the fact that Ohio has open carry laws, meaning people will be able to carry guns outside the convention location even in areas where glass bottles and tennis balls are prohibited.  This creates an impossible situation for police officers and security officials who are supposed to be able to determine, in a split second, who might be the “good guy with a gun” as opposed to an aggressor while wading through a panicked crowd.

Ohio is an open carry state.

Ohio is an open carry state.

A few months ago, the Cleveland Police ordered 2,000 sets of riot gear.  My first question was:  Is that gear going to have to be used inside OR outside the convention?  My second question was:  Will that be enough?  Forgetting that multiple police jurisdictions (each with their own concerns) will be assisting the Cleveland Division of Police (the department’s official name), the host department is still under heavy scrutiny after the Tamir Rice shooting and other incidents.  They aren’t alone as police departments all over the country are on edge as anti-law enforcement sentiment is on the rise and there are serious concerns regarding how police treat minorities and use force.   Police officers are already under the microscope.  Now thousands of officers will be gathering in Cleveland in an effort to keep the peace among a public that does not trust them.

This is their nightmare scenario.

The Secret Service can’t do it alone.  The agency depends on local and state support and this is no exception.  As I’ve written previously, the Secret Service has a specific role in these events and have no political agenda.  Earlier in this election year, they received negative media attention when an agent was involved in a scuffle with a photographer, although only half the story was told.  Regardless, they are being faced with a scenario in which some level of violence is almost certain to exist and the agency has to protect not only specific individuals, but also ensure the security of the entire venue.

This is their nightmare scenario.

Those who wish to demonstrate outside the convention location in order to peacefully express an opinion are likely to be caught in between frustrated groups who not only dislike each other, but may be armed.  Many of those in the crowd will be carrying deep feelings regarding racial inequality, economic disparity, and religion.  Many will be carrying deadly weapons.  The peaceful and well-meaning will be right in the mix of things.

This is their nightmare scenario.

Regardless of what happens during the actual GOP Convention, one thing will not happen.  Healing will not be part of this process.  If anything, I expect more cuts to be made and more scar tissue will show after the event.  You can watch.  But, watch it from a distance.

Feel free to comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.


An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.



In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology



Keeping Your Lips SEALed

It’s not an easy thing to strike a balance between National Security and Transparency.  Living in a democratic society necessitates the population enter into a social contract where some freedoms are surrendered so that many protections can be afforded.  Generally, this contract refers to the administration of justice and the fact criminal penalties are enforced for certain behaviors.  However some other rights, such as the “right to know” are surrendered at times.


In recent months, a couple of Navy SEALs have come forward to discuss information pertaining to the raid that took the life of Osama Bin Laden.  These revelations have not been authorized by the government and are most certainly in violation of non-disclosure agreements signed by the individuals who are releasing the information.  These events raise the question:  Are the disclosures acceptable because of the public’s right to know?  I argue the disclosures are unacceptable, illegal, and possibly immoral.



This argument is fairly obvious.  Anytime information is released regarding national security related tactics and procedures, there is a threat that adversaries will use that information to develop countermeasures.  Sometimes only a few details are all that are needed to reverse engineer and an operation or allow opponents to deduce what methods and equipment were utilized.


This is a gray area that is difficult to explain.  There may be times when it may be beneficial for a military or law enforcement organization to show that their employees are people with genuine emotions, hopes, and problems.  The U.S. military can use public relations programs for recruiting purposes and police departments can promote community policing programs that will help secure neighborhoods and build goodwill.

However, some specialized units and agencies that deter enemy action through some level of intimidation are less likely to benefit from public relations activities that demonstrate the humanity of their members.  This is the case with Special Forces units just as it was true in my former organization, the Secret Service.  Sometimes an element of mystery can manifest itself into an ominous feeling in the gut of an adversary, and that ominous feeling can result in dissuading violent action or at least in causing hesitation before an attack.  When a U.S. Navy SEAL pops up on FOX News to talk about a mission, that element of mystery is diminished and opponents no longer see an elite warrior.  They see some guy with a name giving an interview that shines a light on internal procedures and operational tactics.



My grandfather was a heavy machine-gunner in World War II.  Over time, I’ve be able to determine that he was active in campaigns in North Africa and Europe, but for the life of me I have no idea what he experienced.  He died many years ago and, like many WWII veterans, he never spoke of the war.  That generation accomplished amazing things and experienced horrors many of us will never fully comprehend, but they did their duty and few rushed to the media or sought individual credit for their actions.  Because of this, they have become known as The Greatest Generation and will continue to be celebrated as an example of sacrifice and bravery.   Perhaps one of the downsides to the silence by The Greatest Generation is that some of their lessons have not gotten through to some modern-day warriors.  In recent decades, some soldiers and law enforcement officials have helped define recent generations as the Attention-Seeking Generation.  Whether or not the people who defeated Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito were truly different or the temptations as self-promotion are more prevalent today, I’m not sure.


I own a cool little book I pick up from time to time.  It’s something like 128 pages, called CODE OF THE SAMURAI and in its pages one can read about Bushido – the JapaneseSamuraiWay of the Warrior.  The book details many Samurai warrior traits including:  Duty, Service, Education, and… Modesty.    These are terms many organizations use, but few have employed them like the Samurai did.  Those traits are the reasons that, for centuries, Samurai have represented the very best in military service.  As a unit, I have nothing but respect for the Navy SEALS, just as I respect our other military entities.  But, when it comes to having a resounding effect throughout time, it’s hard to top the Samurai.


To put things in perspective, some of the first mentions of the word “Samurai” appeared in the 10th century while the U.S. Navy SEALS have only been around since the early 1960’s.  Today we have weapons that can destroy targets across an ocean, but we are still writing books and making movies about the samurai.  That’s quite an echo throughout history.



It’s ironic that those who are the quietest seem to be heard for the longest amount of time.  The Samurai did it by creating a culture of honor and respect.  The Greatest Generation shaped the world with courageous actions and a quiet dignity.  Now our warriors are being tempted to reveal operational details and are being seduced by bright lights and book deals.  A few are probably thinking that conducting interviews and smiling for the camera will help them leave their own mark in history.  A vast majority of our soldiers and cops serve honorably and stand by their oath to keep secret information secret.  As far as military and law enforcement organizations go, they will continue to do their best to enforce non-disclosure agreements and to educate on the importance of confidentiality.  Maybe it’s up to the general public to reinforce the fact that we understand and accept the social contract and that we expect our protectors to protect information as well.

I for one will not buy any book or see any movie that financially benefits a person who broke their word by seeking the spotlight.  Only time will tell how recent generations of protectors will be remembered.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the modern-day warrior turned out to be a lot more Samurai and a lot less Sound bite?


What are your thoughts on the recent disclosures by two Navy SEALS?  Leave a comment!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and Measure Twice – which also involves running.  Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

RESOLVE was a finalist for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers organization and was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.

witter @JJHensleyauthor



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An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

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