By Kitty Holt
Ethics & Compliance Officer, Plan International USA
After five tries, I was ecstatic to hear that I was one of 50 people who had been randomly selected to attend the 2018 SCCE FBI Compliance Officer Academy.
I headed down to DC in May, and had the pleasure of sitting across from Roy Snell and Gerry Zack at dinner the first night. The discussion turned to the next day’s activities at Quantico, and Roy noted that a few people might be given the opportunity to participate in a mock shooter scenario, which I thought sounded interesting and challenging…and (since it was not real) also a little fun.
Back in my hotel room, I called my husband, a police officer, explained that a few people may be able to participate in a mock shooting scenario the next day, and asked him for all the shooting advice he could provide. (Thankfully, he has never used his gun in the line of duty, but has frequent firearms training). His one-word advice? “Breathe.” I thought he misunderstood me, so asked again for advice on how to hit the target if I needed to shoot, but his response was the same: breathe.
The next day started with a very interesting discussion on the FBI’s deadly force policy and judgmental shooting. When three volunteers were sought, I did not immediately raise my hand as I knew of another attendee who really wanted to participate in the scenario. Three women were chosen and they took turns responding to different situations, while I sat there wishing I had raised my hand anyway. To my surprise, the trainer then announced “We have room for one more…” and before he finished the sentence, my hand was up.
As I stood on stage, laser gun in hand, facing a screen where the action would play out, I realized my heart was racing out of control and I was holding my breath, which is not a good combination. Breathe. My husband’s advice came to me, I took a second or two to get my breathing in line, and then, after trying to convince the bad guy on the screen that the house was surrounded and that he should turn himself in, took him down with one shot as he started to raise his rifle at me while shouting threats laced with obscenities.
Breathe. That one word of advice seemed quite odd, but was actually just the advice I needed to calm down and focus. As I thought about it later, I realized that advice is good for handling many situations, from troublesome teens, to immediate deadlines, to terse emails, to concerned co-workers, and is the perfect first response for a compliance officer. Breathe.