Tactical Training for Individuals and Church Security Teams to Thwart Active Violence Incidents

SemperVerus interviewed Del Kostanko, who founded Blue Arrow Consultants, LLC believing that individuals, church security teams, and businesses utilizing threat assessment knowledge to make a location more secure—and to prepare people for what dangers may occur—can lessen the need for force, reduce the chance of physical harm, and minimize liability. Also interviewed below is the security team leader of a Michigan church who asked Blue Arrow Consultants to train his team.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, A Prayer for Church Security Team Members ]

With your extensive background in the Marine Corps, and as a police sergeant, tactician in hundreds of high-risk operations, and trainer of police officers in how to respond to Active Violence Incidents, why did you form Blue Arrow Consultants?
I discovered that tactical training for Concealed Pistol License (CPL) holders is rare, and very expensive. There are numerous CPL trainers in Michigan for people to get their permits to carry, and they do an excellent job, but there is less of an opportunity for those with their CPL to go to the next level. Through progressive training classes, I take them to the next level. My students learn invaluable skills to address threats more quickly, and efficiently, to better protect themselves, their loved ones, and the public.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Concealed Carry Daily Prayer ]

Once a concealed carry permit is acquired, how important is it to continue firearm and defensive force training?
Having a CPL is a tremendous responsibility. The decision to use deadly force to address a threat, and the ability to effectively engage that threat, is a perishable skill that requires frequent training. My students often say they feel better prepared, and much more confident, in their abilities to protect themselves and those around them. Plus, they have fun!

[ Read the SemperVerus article, New Edition of Hostility Against Churches Report Shows a Doubling of Attacks ]

Why should houses of worship organize their own security teams?
Houses of worship have historically been targets of violence for assorted reasons. Their welcoming nature makes them “soft” targets. Houses of worship that have safety plans, and organized safety teams, can increase the safety of their congregations while still retaining a welcoming atmosphere. Whether a church is looking for training for their ushers and greeters, unarmed/armed security team, or looking to have a threat assessment conducted, Blue Arrow Consultants can customize a plan to increase its overall safety.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Video: Always Carry Pepper (OC) Spray for Non-Lethal Force Self-Defense ]

What do you see as basic equipment for a church security team?
Recommended basic equipment can include such items as flashlights, emergency blankets, first aid kits, master keys, and a coordinated plan on what to do for a variety of situations. Tourniquets, and their proper use is recommended. Some teams have their members carry chemical agents (pepper spray/gel), while other teams also carry radios and firearms. Budgets, opinions, and church rules are often common factors in what teams are allowed to carry.

For those churches that rely upon a few members who have CPLs, it’s imperative that they receive additional training on how to engage threats in a crowded, chaotic environment, identify each other, and be aware of what to do when first responders arrive. It’s common for the “good guys” to be shot by other “good guys.” Products like DSM banners (“Don’t Shoot Me”) are available to be worn by properly vetted members to help during emergency situations to help identify who is a security member. As a trainer for the State of Michigan, we advise officers responding to an AVI that they may encounter CPL holders or see armed citizens wearing the brightly colored DSM banners across their chests.

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What is an Active Violence Incident (AVI) and how do you help individuals and churches plan, prevent, and prepare for it?
An Active Violence Incident is any situation where one or more assailants has or is actively attempting to harm people by whatever means. Most people think of school shootings when talking about AVIs. Unfortunately, an AVI can take many forms, including knives, machetes, blunt objects, flammable liquids, and vehicles. It’s helpful for security teams to “think outside the box” regarding threats to those they protect. Blue Arrow Consultants helps security teams plan for, prevent, and protect against a multitude of threats.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Chart: The Spectrum of Potential Threat Personas in Self-Defense and Church Security ]

What are “attacker indicators” that people should be aware of?
Attacker indicators are those behaviors, mannerisms, and attire that are common among assailants. Security teams that have been professionally trained in recognizing attacker indicators gain precious seconds in being able to better defeat an attacker.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Church Security Training: Decision Decks Help You Think Through a Crisis Before It Happens ]

In your class lessons, what do you mean by “tactical movements: stimuli versus indicators”?
AVIs are, by their nature, fast moving and dynamic. Proper tactical movements by CPL holders, or church security teams, and the ability to quickly recognize the location of an assailant, can allow for the swift neutralization of the threat. Stimuli and indicators within a scene are the “clues” that can be followed to help locate an attacker. Shell casings, blood trails, and people screaming, are a few examples of what students are taught to follow when hunting down an active assailant.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Self-Defense and Church Security: Make Scanning Your Priority ]

Why do you spend time teaching about “footwork”?
Though marksmanship is a particularly vital component of being able to engage an attacker, the dynamics of an engagement often require movement on the part of the protector. Students learn how to properly combine footwork with shooting on the move to engage threats. Proper footwork increases one’s survivability by making it harder for the bad guy to shoot you and allows for a steadier aim during an engagement.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, DHS Outlines Steps Houses of Worship Can Take To Protect Themselves ]

What is the difference between a single person response and a two-person response in an AVI?
The difference is that there is a change in the tactics that are taught for an engagement. A single person is taught how to respond in a certain tactical manner; however, having one, or more, additional people allows for the formation of a small team. Whether it be an armed church security team, husband and wife, or two friends who have CPLs and are at a store or restaurant, the availability of an additional person creates the ability to form a small team. Students are taught team tactics, which can keep them safer during an engagement, and help them defeat assailants quicker, hopefully saving lives.

How can a person or church contact you?
I can be contacted online at BlueArrowConsultantsLLC.com, through our Facebook page, or by calling 517-234-1119 or 1-877-TACTIXX.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’m set up to be mobile and am willing to travel anywhere to help security teams become better prepared to protect those around them. Individual CPL holders may sign up for classes that are posted at BlueArrowConsultantsLLC.com. Training for unarmed teams, ushers and greeters, and threat assessments of houses of worship, is also available.

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Church Security: Church Crisis Response Checklist ]

Matt Witte, safety team coordinator (paid on staff) at a church in West Michigan, contracted Blue Arrow Consultants to conduct training for his church team members and staff. Here he answers questions SemperVerus put to him:

Why does your church have a security team?
We have a Safety Team for 3 reasons:

  1. Medical — We’re the first responders to anything medically related, in hopes to bridge the gap between the incident and when paramedics arrive, if that is needed.
  2. Threats — Our team is trained and prepared to deal with any threats that may come upon us, whether that is verbal, cyber, or physical.
  3. Spiritual Crisis — We’re the first responders to anyone who is in need of spiritual assistance. The church is made up of broken people and the Safety Team is placed in specific positions in order to intervene when someone is having a rough day and is in need of God’s love or just someone who will listen to them.

What is the makeup of your team?
I have two volunteer leaders (one for each campus). From there we have a quickly growing medical team and everyone else is a multipurpose team member.

What do you see as basic equipment for a church security team?
Basic equipment for any safety team should be communication devices; we use two-way radios with earpieces. And medical bags equipped to handle anything from a bruised knee to saving a life. Also a DSM banner (this stands for “Don’t Shoot Me”). It simply is a high-visibility sash we can deploy over our body so we can be quickly identified by law enforcement as the good guys.

What skills are you looking to perfect with the help of training from Blue Arrow Consultants?
The skills we’re looking to train on are what to do in the case of an active shooter situation. Blue Arrow also gives a lot of insight to locations we should monitor in our building, and when is the appropriate time to draw your weapon. We have quite a few team members who’ve been firearms trained by different organizations, and quite a few who’ve simply just taken a CPL class. It’s a great way for the team as a whole to train as one, so we can operate as one. Skills specifically will be shot placement, clearing hallways and stairwells, entering rooms, how to approach a vehicle, and many more.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Our church takes safety very seriously. Everyone on the team has a heart to serve; each person has gifts in different ways. Some are military, law enforcement, medical professionals, and the rest of us are general civilians who simply have the awareness needed to watch over the flock. What I like to tell each person who joins our team is this. “We prepare for a battle we pray we never have to fight.”

[ Read the SemperVerus article, Church Security Book Review: Defending the Flock ]

BIO: Del Kostanko served in the United States Marine Corps as a Stinger Missile Operator and was deployed worldwide as part of a Special Operations Capable unit. After earning bachelor’s degrees from Michigan State University in both Criminal Justice and Psychology, he rose to the rank of Sergeant in the City of Lansing Police Department, where he was a member of the Special Tactics and Rescue Team (START) taking part in or leading 350 documented “high risk” operations. In 2022, he was hired by the State of Michigan to teach police officers how to respond to Active Violence Incidents. He recognized that tactical training for Concealed Pistol License holders was scarce and expensive. In 2023, he formed Blue Arrow Consultants, LLC. Del currently resides in the Mid-Michigan area with his wife Jane, two dogs and two cats. He continues his love of hunting, teaching, and recreational shooting.

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