Detroit security expert touts nonviolent solutions to crime
Commander Dale Brown is an imposing figure in real life, barrel-chested with his hair shorn to military regulation, and is even more so in promotional videos and news clips featuring him and his team of crack security experts, known as the Detroit Vipers. A video on the front page of his company’s website features Brown and his cohorts decked out in military gear and performing tactics straight out of the next G.I. Joe sequel as they clean up the notoriously crime-ridden streets of Detroit. They even adopt code names like “Mantis,” “Polar” and Brown’s own, “Delta.”
But, contrary to how they appear, the group is actually based on nonviolent security and policing philosophies and practices, which Brown was in the area to extol at the invitation of Butte County Liberty Rising, a recently formed Libertarian-leaning political group. The group hosted a reception dinner for Brown at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Tuesday (March 17) in advance of his public presentation at the Southside Oroville Community Center Thursday, (March 19).
Brown detailed how he came to start Detroit’s Threat Management Center 20 years ago with “a dog and a rifle.” Today it provides security services, and training in deterring violence and criminal activity through psychology and interpersonal communication, to a wide range of clientele, from librarians to law enforcement. He said it began when he took a job to provide security for a pair of crime-ridden high-rise apartment complexes in an area of Motor City’s east side, then known as “Crack Alley.”
“The law enforcement community in Detroit, like many other cities, was focused on prosecution rather than protection,” Brown said. “I grew up in a college town where the police concern really was public safety, so I wasn’t used to seeing families live like that, and I wasn’t willing to accept it.”
Brown initially relied on his Army training and “American ideals about violence,” namely that “the answer to any use of force was superior force,” but his methods soon changed.
“I found out I was wrong,” he said. “The more violent the thought process and the actions, the more violence you create. I overcame that through applying the constant understanding that all people are one people, and when someone is suffering it’s no different than someone in your family suffering.
“If you go into protection with the idea that your greatest weapon is love for humanity, then what you’ll get is a positive outcome,” Brown continued. “You’re going to have to use a different way of thinking, but it works if you believe it.”
Brown provided examples of how his theory of “preventative threat management” works. In areas his guards patrol, they make an effort to interact with suspicious individuals in a nonconfrontational manner while letting it be known they’re under surveillance. They also apply physical tactics—such as staying close and to the side of the person to prevent attack—to further protect themselves from harm and control the situation. Brown said his system has been extremely effective in reducing crime and physical harm to people on both sides of any situation.
“Psychology is the key,” he said. “If criminals don’t believe they can attack then they won’t, but if we let them believe they can attack they will.”
Today, business is booming for Brown across the country and at Detroit’s Threat Management Center. He suggested the training he offers could help deal with Chico’s public-safety issues, like homelessness and violent crime, as could shifting police resources toward protection rather than punitive measures. Further, police should primarily focus on rape, murder and other violence rather than victimless crimes, Brown said.
“It applies everywhere, no matter what the circumstances are. It’s the softest, most positive and proactive way to prevent negative outcomes,” he said.
Brown believes an emphasis on nonlethal tactics is essential to police officers, noting increased media coverage of violence by law enforcement and a shift in police tactics toward use of greater force. He said that, even though police shootings are regularly declared legal, it doesn’t make them right: “When you can continuously articulate and justify a negative outcome, that’s what you’ll keep doing.
“[Society] sadly does not emphasize nonviolence, and people are not being provided the skillset to carry it out,” he said. “We need to give officers and citizens the skills, the knowledge and the capability to answer issues through peaceful means.”
Liberty Rising Butte County was formed about two months ago, according to organizer Sean Worthington, who said he learned about Brown from Reason TV, a Libertarian Internet news site whose motto is “Free Minds, Free Markets.”
“We are a group of liberty-loving people who want to make [Butte County] a better place to live,” Worthington said, noting the group is made up of people of all political persuasions, as well as “a number of Rand Paul supporters, medical marijuana growers and members of Tea Party and 51st State organizations.” Brown’s talk is the first of what Worthington hopes will be many presentations the group will host on issues like public safety, education and health care.