Richard "Mack" Machowicz and Det. Ebrahim Ashabi come from very different backgrounds, but they demonstrated in their keynote addresses at TREXPO West that they are both straight shooters who value honesty and have no use for political correctness. These men also agree that cops need to train hard, to know their enemy, and to keep fighting the War on Terror, because no matter what you call it, it's not going away.
Speaking on April Fool's Day, Richard "Mack" Machowicz opened his keynote address with a joke: We could all relax because it had been declared that "terrorism" no longer existed. He admitted it was a lame joke, but he wanted to bring attention to the ridiculousness of members of the Obama Administration refusing to use the terms "terrorism" and "War on Terror" because they engender fear.
"Some people actually believe criminals will comply with you and terrorists will disappear because they wish that they would. But there are threats out there that you face every day," he told the audience. Machowicz then asked them to take a moment of silence for all men and women—here and abroad—who put their lives on the line to maintain others' safety.
He also implored attendees to safeguard themselves by remaining vigilant against all threats and avoiding complacency. "Is there a bigger killer in law enforcement?" he asked. "Complacency kills marriages, countries…I can guarantee it will kill a law enforcement officer like that."
One way to maintain the necessary edge is by continually training. Machowicz, a three-time TREXPO instructor, advised attendees to take full advantage of their time at the TREXPO West conference and expo to learn from others and to hone their skills.
As host of the Discovery Channel show "FutureWeapons," Machowicz has tested many new devices designed to give the U.S. military the edge in the field. He was a Navy SEAL himself, and he takes training and combat very seriously. Therefore, he's excited about the ways the military and law enforcement are borrowing each other's tactics and technology—unmanned aerial vehicles and TASERs—to meet similar goals.
"All I care about is what would be better for the officers in the field…I appreciate what you do to make our lives fantastic."
Unfortunately, not everyone has the same view. Machowicz acknowledged this in his answer to a question from the audience. His response was met with thunderous applause from the room full of law enforcement officers. "My biggest concern is not the bad guys," he said. "It's the people that don't understand what you people are doing to protect us. If there's one thing that keeps me up at night, it's that."
Det. Ebrahim Ashabi's three-hour keynote address, "A Brief History of Radical Islam," was packed with insightful information about the history of conflicts involving Muslims and Muslim countries, from the religion's inception up to the modern day. His goal was to make police officers understand the mindset of the people they're up against.
At the outset, Ashabi called out Hilary Clinton for her assertion that "the War on Terror is over." No matter what some people might think, Ashabi made it clear that law enforcement better acknowledge this enemy and be prepared to respond.
"There's a war going on, and we (law enforcement) are on the front line," he said. "It doesn't matter if you want to be involved. You are."
Ashabi is a Muslim from Iran who escaped the country in his youth and is now a detective with the Long Beach (Calif.) Police Department who conducts training there. His passion is evident in his no-holds-barred delivery of the material he covers.
His graphics intensive, and sometimes just plain graphic, presentation showed the lengths to which some radical islamists will go to win—including a video of a terrorist slowly decapitating a hostage with only a knife. It doesn't matter how many years it takes, or how many lives it takes, Ashabi said. And showing weakness only emboldens the enemy. As he so succinctly put it, "If you get soft, people kick your ass."
Toward that end, Ashabi encouraged all law enforcement officers to learn as much as they can about Islam and about the types of attacks terrorists plan to carry out based on scripture. He provided a resource list of Websites, including those maintained by law enforcement and actual terrorist Websites—or "the good guys and the bad guys," as he put it. Ashabi knows how serious the threat is, and he sees no excuse for cops leaving themselves open to attack by remaining ignorant of the abundantly available facts about radical Islam.
"This is not a tactics class. It's about what's going on in their heads," said Ashabi. "You have to understand them if you want to fight them."