March 29, 2023

How to Equip Yourself with Tools to Ensure School Safety with Daniel Dluzneski

In this episode, we sit down with Daniel Dluzneski, retired Lieutenant of the United States Secret Service and former Coordinator of Emergency Management, Safety and Security at Pinellas County Schools, to discuss school safety and emergency preparedness... See show notes at:

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In this episode, we sit down with Daniel Dluzneski, retired Lieutenant of the United States Secret Service and former Coordinator of Emergency Management, Safety and Security at Pinellas County Schools, to discuss school safety and emergency preparedness. Daniel shares his personal experience of being in lockdown and the trauma it can cause, especially for children who experience it daily. As parents, it's crucial to equip ourselves with the tools and knowledge to ensure the safety of our children in schools. With his vast experience in the Secret Service and Pinellas County Schools, Daniel provides valuable insights into standardized school emergency plans, active shooter drills, physical security barriers, and much more. Join us for an informative conversation on how to be proactive and prepared in emergency situations.

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest, Daniel Dlusnik. Daniel is the author of The First Five Minutes and someone I have been looking forward to having a conversation with, especially in consideration of the state of the world we are in today. We will get into that in just a moment, but before we do, Daniel, how are you today, my friend?

Daniel: Very good. Thank you so much for having me on Michael, appreciate it.

Michael: Yeah, man, it's an honor. You know, when you and I first connected, your journey, your story and what you do today really hit home for me. I will give you the privilege of going into that depth for yourself, but to create context for those as we are getting into today's episode, we are going to talk about honestly, and I just want to forewarn people, one of the more horrific aspects of being in the country and the world that we are today, and that is school shootings and violence in schools. And the reason why I wanted to have Daniel come on the show was to have this conversation as someone who personally has been impacted by this in the past and someone who has experienced what it like to go through the trauma of being in lockdown, which unfortunately so many of our children now experience every day wanted, especially knowing that many of you listeners are parents who have kids in schools, but wanted to be able to equip you with tools. So, this episode is gonna be a slightly different than what you're used to, but Daniel, if you can tell us a little bit about your background and kind of what have led you to where you are today with this.

Daniel: My background, I started out, I grew up in Connecticut and when you're a kid, you play back when I was a kid, it's cowboys and Indians, or you're playing, you wanna be a firefighter or a policeman. And I always kind of leaned towards the policeman part of it, even though, I was heavily into sports and I wanted to be a radio broadcaster. I mean, that was my goal, that was the ultimate I wanted, not on TV, wanted to be a radio broadcaster. And I went to school in Southern Illinois and they had a great program down there and their own TV and their own radio program, and it got kind of clique-ish and my minor was gonna be in criminal justice, so I just switched over and stayed with criminal justice. And I joined the Secret Service a long time ago, back in the eighties, and I spent almost 25 years there. And when I retired from there, I fortunately I can go back a little bit about what I did there. I was in canine for a while, I had a bomb dog, a great dog, his name was Korak and that's why you see my email will say K9 Korak. And fortunately, when he did retire, I was able to keep him. So, he became a family pet and he lived, he was 13 years old, which was very good for a Belgian malinois work dog. And I had other options, I was able to stay in Washington, DC with the Secret Service. I worked for the Uniform Division there was a ranking system, just like regular police departments ended up as a lieutenant. I worked in public affairs. I worked at the White House. I was there during nine 11. I gave tours of the White House Historical, so it was a very great career that had many, many opportunities so, I really enjoyed it. I mean, I got to see all kinds of movie stars and diplomats and sports stars, it was really a great job. And when I retired from there, I always wanted to be down in warm weather, so I moved down here to Florida. And got my son into the school system down here, I think when I first came down, he was in third grade and I was just gonna retire and sit on a beach. And my ex-wife at the time had said, look, no, that's not gonna happen, you gotta do something with an alpha personality, you're not allowed to just sit around ‘cuz you're gonna get bored and I was getting bored.

And this opportunity opened up in my county, in Pinellas County, here in Florida for an emergency manager with the school system. And I went to work for them for four years. And I tell you, it was an eye-opening experience, it was a great learning experience. However, and most of your law enforcement people out there, and I'm sure your education people out there, it's kind of like oil and water your educational system with law enforcement because it's just kind of with law enforcement when you're dealing with educators, it's like, Law enforcement, all right, you're here, we just need just do what you gotta do and then, you know, we're done with you. Obviously recently it's getting more integrated, which is great because you do have a lot of special resource officers now on these campuses, and I was the only one I say that now, it's kind of odd to bring that up, but I was it, I had no staff, no secretary. I was the only one of a school system that a hundred thousand students and 140 schools. And I just got thrown into this and it was like, here you go, have at it. I said, okay, well, I'll make it my own and I decided I was going to visit every one of those principals and every one of those schools, of those 140 schools that we had, it took me about a year to do that. But I wanted to make sure that they knew my face, they knew who I was and they knew what I wanted. And I luckily at the time, had a backing of my boss, the operations superintendent, and we did make some changes. And I'll tell you, it was rough. It's still rough now because I do have other individuals that I work with on LinkedIn that tell me the same stories and struggles that they have with educators about making changes. And it's very hard because a lot of times of the education, they're ingrained with a lot of these things and just, for example, one example I'll bring up is using codes they were still using codes when I came in to go into lockdown for an active shooter drill. And I couldn't understand why they were using codes, I said, why can't we just say what it is? You know, if someone coming in, if you say code red or blue or whatever code you're bringing up, they wouldn't know what that is. So, that took a while for them to get away from this code system. In fact, I find it kind of disheartening that Parkland major Stoneman Douglas, where they had Nicholas Cruise shoot up that school, they were still using codes. And it kind of boggles the mind, but just say what you're going to say do we're in a lockdown, just say it. Plain and simple. So that was one change and there were many others that came along, but obviously I'm not there anymore. I left after the Parkland shooting because Florida decided that law enforcement should take over all the school's safety issues which I disagreed with and we can talk about that a little later. But, yeah, I left about five years ago and I just started own consulting firm and just really concerned about this. And if we get into why I wrote the book after Aldi in Texas, which was a disaster down the line. I mean, I know law enforcement was the emphasis of that shooting, but there was just a lot of things went wrong from beginning to end in that entire incident. And my new wife said, look, you have to get this out. You gotta vent, you gotta get this out, put it down in writing. And so, I started, I'd never written a book before. I just started writing what I thought was needed to be said and I concentrated on the aspect of how to survive an active shooter situation outta school. And that's what I concentrated the book on, it is a handbook, it's a very short book. It's easy to read. I wanted it simple. I wanted it just to be concentrating on one thing. I didn't want a diatribe of two or 300 pages which is just to me, just kind of boring. It's nice that I included in the book not only a blank emergency plan that anyone can use its generic. And I also included in there you can download a small credit card size, reference card. And I found out just recently, my wife's a doctor and one of her doctor friends says, oh, we use those all the time. I'm like, what are you talking about? She says, well, I work in an emergency room and they'll have code, whatever color it is, and sometimes we forget. What color it's, so we have these reference cards. Oh yeah. Code white is this. And I said, oh, that's a great idea. So, what I did was make these reference cards, which can be attached to your lanyard if you're a teacher, that for your ID or if you need it for your copier. And if something happens, whether it's an active shooter or a lockdown, or a weapon, or a bomb threat or a hurricane you can just quickly flip over the card and see what you need to do or forget because when a situation like that happens, you're gonna forget, I would forget, you know, a step that I had to take. Great to have the card. Anyway, that is why, one of the reasons why I wrote the book and I hope people get something out of it.

Michael: Yeah. Well, let's go into this a little bit. So, one of the things that, really inspired me to want to have this conversation with you today is some of my closest friends in the world are teachers. And when I was young, so I grew up and everyone who listens to this show knows I grew up in a very impoverished neighborhood. In fact, my high school was incredibly violent, it is since been defunded and closed now over a decade, I think. But we had multiple kids assaulted in our school, we had multiple gun threats, we had more locked down. I mean, we probably honestly got locked down like every week. Right. We had drug dogs; we had the whole night and I will say I certainly played my role in that I did things as a kid I probably shouldn't have been involved in. But, you know, one thing that came to mind, I remember, one boy when I was a sophomore got murdered right outside the school and they put us all on lockdown and we like, they held the buses back, the whole nine and it's like what I think is really interesting that was now, at this point, 20 years ago, right? Maybe 21 years ago. It was a very, very long time ago and this was not that long after Columbine had happened and I think that like many people I felt like you have Columbine, then you have 911, and then I was experiencing this and you know, there was a lot of chaos. And remember just feeling unsafe all the time at school also, like, I hated school, so that probably didn't help very much as a f**ing terrible student and I couldn't stand it. But you know what I'm wondering is looking at the society in the world we live now, where this is almost like a weekly occurrence, man. Like it is at the point where you go, man, this is a pandemic, this is something wrong and people will always point and blame the guns. And it's like, well, I don't think that really works effectively. But what I'm curious about, and I know obviously it's not your entire area of expertise, but what are some of like the downturn, the downsides, the not even downsides, the downstream effects of these moments, not only in active shooters, but even the drills and the stress that happens on teachers, parents, kids, like what is happening when these events are taking place?


Daniel: Well, I think Michael, you and I know, I really think social media ha has ruined a lot of what's been happening. Social media is good in some respects, but in other respects it's not really good, I think this idea of having phones in school. My son goes to high school, he's a junior, they allow phones into the classroom. Now, you can't sit there using your phone, but you allowed to have your phone in the classroom and during breaks that, you know, as kids, they're constantly on their phones. And I think we just talked about this a little while ago a county south of me in Manatee County, three students just got arrested for being on TikTok and making up videos about a school shooting. So, I tell you if there are teachers listening and maybe we should do a survey because I tell you, if you ask teachers, would you feel better if phones were banned from your classroom more than I would say have be 60, 70% but yeah, just get rid of, because you know what drives the idea of having a phone for a child is the parent usually. Oh, you know, there's between, yes, everyone else has phones, mom and dad. I want a phone. So it's usually driven by the parents and you know, Michael, I know you're a lot younger than me, but I don't think we had phones when you were in high school and it was no big deal. What was the big deal? Parents need to get ahold of you call the office, bring down a little Johnny. I need to get ahold of him for something. So, this idea that you need to have this leash of a phone constantly. Again, this is just my opinion, but I just don't think it's doing us any good and I could take it a little further. Let's say, for example, I did, it was a bad example. I had a bomb threat at a high school. And the kids of course immediately got on social media, the messaging and texting their parents that there was a bomb threat at this high school, it was thousand students and right next door was a middle school. So, you add them into the mix and they started to evacuate the school. Well, these texts started going out and here come the parents. And that just made it doubly and the effort of trying to clear this school even worse. So, luckily, we had the fire department there that just would block the roads so parents couldn't get in. But it just would lead to more things that went bad. And now you start getting texts of students texting, I saw the bomb, or I saw wires, or I saw a gun, or whatever it was in the context of an emergency, ‘cause of a thousand students, you're gonna get some bad apples, you know, let's start, you know, making this even worse than it was. So, that's one aspect of these phones and the social media, that's creating this atmosphere.

I think the other thing, again, recently because of the pandemic and having kids now staying home and parents having to stay home, it just created this atmosphere of, I think most kids were like, boy, again, I don't like school. I don't like any of this. And you know, the academic standards dropped where they couldn't test kids and they were trying to teach 'em over a laptop and it just, everything kind of drops and then when we opened school back up again, they're basically starting back at zero. And okay, I'm sure it frustrated the teachers too, that they go back and redo everything that they accomplished maybe the year before. So that's probably another issue of, you know, the pandemic and shutting the schools down and now bringing it back.

So, the third thing would be, I think what teachers have to put up with, not only now do they have to put up with these incidents happening at school was bomb threats, active shooters just threats against themselves and having to learn training and drilling for active shooters. You know, the pandemic was something else that they have to now catch up on. The stress and pressure of trying to keep their schools at a certain grade level. Here in Florida, we have A through F so you try to keep your school in an A or B level, and if you're not, there's under a lot of pressure to continue to teach, to make that grade go up for the school.

So, teachers are under tremendous amount of pressure and it's not a good thing. I know about on the police side there's a lot less police that are trying to take that job because it's not a job that I would recommend now, but I don't know of too many people that are even going into teaching profession, it's not something that is what I would consider a noble profession and I consider law enforcement a noble profession, and you're just not getting the right recruits for that.

Michael: Yeah, definitely. And I think one of the hard parts about it is you have these really, probably long-term detrimental, negative impacts of the combination of isolation and then having both teachers and students and faculties going back to school with this feeling of unsafety every day. You know, when I was young, this is a weird thing to say, but it's just factual. When I was young and I was in school, violence was expected like, it just is the case of where I come from like there were fights every day, lockdowns every day school assemblies would get shut down, we had actual police officers in our school with actual real guns and real guard dogs, and that was commonplace. And it was one of those things that always made me hypervigilant. So, now we have people who are coming back into schools after being locked down, after being isolated, stepping into what's effectively this hyper-vigilant environment in which I'm sure that's creating some long-term effects. I mean, I don't think any of us really understand the actual impact of this yet, it's too soon to tell. But the isolation, the problems and the lack of space for teachers to have the support that they need is like absolutely unbelievable. And the thing that I can't help but think is like you have to move towards getting these grades and you have to move towards helping these students move forward and yet, every single moment of every day, I can't help but think these teachers are wondering, is somebody gonna come in with a gun today? Right? And it's almost like, perhaps this is a weird way to phrase it, but it's put into the media so frequently and constantly and we live in a scared media environment to get you to be afraid. And now it just gets exacerbated because the one place where people should be the safest is the one place they're not. And so, what I'm curious about is and I wanna specifically drive this towards teachers in this section of this conversation, ‘cuz I think it's important. What can they do to not only be prepared, but hopefully to mitigate some of the stress that comes along with having to be prepared for something they should never have to be prepared for to begin with?

Daniel: Very hard, Michael, because I found out through other podcasts and talking to teachers, and I've got questions from teachers saying look, we agree with you, we wish we could do this kind of drilling and kind of training, but we are not, we don't have the backup of our administration, they will not allow us to do that. We have a certain set of rules that these are what we have to follow, for our lockdowns or active shooters. And my answer would be, look, just you actually talk to the parents because as you know, parents push by hopefully starting to push school policy and getting in front of these school boards and saying, we want our kids to be safe. And there is something to be said of that, because once the school takes over your child, they act like the parent. I mean, there's laws out there that says yes, they're the ones that are there to protect the child once they are dropped off at the school. So, from the teacher perspective, yeah, go ahead, read the book, read up what you can about keeping yourself safe. And that's what I mentioned most of anything, all teachers want to keep their students safe. And I've concentrated been on elementary schools because obviously they're the most vulnerable. When you get to middle and high schools, you know, a little more mature, they can kind of think for themselves and if you need to, when they do this, I say run, hide, fight. I hate using that because it's a business term, it's not really made for schools but they can use that option. Elementary school teachers and administrators and principals, I mean, they get emotional when they talk about their children and trying to protect these kids.

So, they're the ones that I actually wrote the book for, ‘cause Aldi was an elementary school. And the first thing you have to remember is keep yourself safe. You're not gonna help anybody by first, I gotta think about the kids. I gotta, no, keep yourself safe first then you're gonna be able to save someone else.

So, I mentioned in the book, we all know, and we should know what happens during a lockdown. I ask that all classroom doors be locked during the school day. I've had some pushback against that, but my argument is no, once that door is already locked, that's one less step you have to take when you have to go into a lock down. So, the doors already locked down when you do go into lockdown, there's usually a little window in the door, you'll put something over that window in the door, turn the lights off. You can have the students sit on the floor if you want, in the corner, away from the windows, or you can have 'em at their desk. Put in your head down. I'd rather have them away from the windows on the floor. Silence your cell phone. Keep everybody quiet and calm. You yourself as a teacher will be the calmest in the room. Calm everyone down. Make sure you communicate with your administration and tell them if you have a missing student or if you have an extra student, and you can use that with your email on your phone, just silence the phone. All your computers will be turned off and just you're gonna wait until someone comes and unlocks that door. That's it. It's pretty simple. However, I tell them, there's a step you're gonna forget, that's okay. Use the reference card. It's okay if you forget it. Just make sure the doors already locked, so you're okay. And I said, I tell them, look, you're gonna hear some horrific stuff, you're gonna hear gunfire and, and Michael, you've gone through this. You're gonna hear scream, you're gonna hear people pounding on the door. You're gonna hear some stuff that you wouldn't imagine you would ever hear, just be prepared for that, obviously it's like being struck by lightning. None of this would ever happen. It may never happen in your lifetime. I was a law enforcement officer. I think I pulled my gun maybe twice in my entire career. So, it may never happen but I want you as a teacher, to be confident and to just react the way you're supposed to react just know what you need to do and go into another mode. You're going into protective mode. You're protecting yourself, and you're protecting your students, and that's it. And I ask again to drill as much as possible, it's very hard for schools now. A fire drill takes maybe 20 minutes at most, even at a high school, it doesn't take very long. And fire drills are, you march out there, you wait, and you march back in, it's not much to it. Lockdown drill is much, much different. I mean, we're talking 30, 45 minutes at most, I mean, it may go longer than that for larger schools, but it's a pain in the neck. You're cutting into teaching and you know, you have to wait until they unlock the doors even after they unlock the doors I still ask, wait until the entire school is unlocked, because what happens is a lot of times, you'll unlock a door and you've got you know, maybe 30, 40 more, more doors to go on campus and these kids will start running out into the hallways or whatever. I said, no, let's wait until everybody is on the same page and then we can start teaching again. So, it's a long process, but it's an important process. And I always say, especially in the book, I want you to react basically automatically, like with implicit memory, that as soon as something like that happens, something clicks and you go into a different, I know what to do, the doors already locked. I turn off the lights. I do this, this, this, and that's it. And that's who I asked for more drills, very hard to do. We drill once a month here in Florida for fire drills, and as far as I know, it's still probably once a quarter for lockdown drills. And I think it should be the opposite. I mean, when's the last time we had a fire in a school, Michael, hundreds of years ago where anyone got injure. Most schools now they're built, have to have sprinkler systems and they have to have three-hour doors and walls and it's kind of crazy, but that's just the way the legislature works in most of these states. So, I'd like to see more drilling and more training so it just becomes almost a natural reaction for something like this.

Michael: One of the things I'm wondering here as you're going through this is, I mean, that's a tremendous amount of pressure to be on someone who like, really, like the teachers I know who are incredible human beings, they're like, I just want to help kids like this is my passion, this is a thing. And it's like, now here's this other level of responsibility and like what you said, like I don't remember hearing about a school burning down, ever. Like I literally, I jogged my memory on this ‘cuz I knew you were gonna mention that and I don't recall ever hearing that happening in my lifetime, right? So, we're talking about 40 years, right? But school shootings, there's probably been 40 or I guarantee there's more I'm just, you know, using that as a reference point. And so, what I'm wondering, you know, looking at this and you having your background, your experience, I mean, obviously to me, I go, if somebody from the freaking Secret Service is like, Hey, you might want to try this, my brain goes, yeah, that seems like the logical thing. Obviously, you and I both know that when it comes to school, politics are the game. There is no logic. Let's call it what it is. So, what do we need to do to make sure these teachers and students and faculty are like most prepared? Like in the crux of it? Like what is happening in those first five minutes?

Daniel: First five minutes, what's happening is that shooter got into the building or is attempting to get into the building. I talk a little bit about in the book the preventative measures, and again, Michael, we all know this. If someone is hell bent on getting into that school and creating havoc and killing people, they're gonna get in to do it. What we want to do is we want to have a layered effect to stop them and prevent them and slow them down from getting in. So, you're gonna have all your doors closed during the school day except for one, one entrance only. And where that one entrance is, will be a lobby area that will be locked up, the only way that individual gets in is if they're buzzed in, that's the way it should be. And even if they crash through the doors or anything like that, you're still dealing with a system now, once that happens, the alarm goes out, the police are on their way. Now, fortunately, not all schools, but most of them I hope, have now special resource officers that are there that he will be the first responder, he or she to that incident to slow that shooter down again or stop him, classroom doors are already locked. So, within those five minutes, it is up to you as a teacher to keep your kids calm, to keep yourself calm, to lock down. As far as I know, and I didn't do the researcher actually is a gentleman named Michael Dorn with Safe Havens International, one of the top places for active shooter and other school safety issues. They said that there was one incident where an individual broke through a locked door that came in and took the time to break through a locked door and killed someone. But since all these other shootings, it takes much, much too much time for them because these shooters, they're crazy, but they're not totally insane, they also have a clock ticking in their head, they know when the police are gonna show up. So, they're not gonna take the time to try to break through a locked door or crash through a window. It just takes too much time; they're looking for easy victims again, it takes too much time.

Anyway, back to the point of what you can do in those five minutes, like I said, you go through your steps knowing that there's help on the way they're coming. It may seem like it's an hour before they get there, they're on their way, they're coming, they're gonna help you. So just make sure you do not listen to any announcements, you don't listen to anyone saying it's okay to come out. You don't listen to anyone banging on the door saying, I'm the principal. Let me in. Nothing until someone has the keys, which will be an administrator or a police officer. Don't open that door. Now, in Uvalde they did open some windows that were in the classroom to get the kids out that's a judgment call on something like that if you as a teacher feel that it's a better way to get out outside, away from the building and you can do it safely. Okay. I'm not gonna sit here and say don't do it. You know, if you feel that’s a better option, okay. We talk a little bit about options. What they did down here in Florida, which I disagreed with, is that they added another, there's enough pressure on teachers. I stress lockdown is the only way to go. You think of one thing. Lockdown and that's it. There's also what's called options-based training, and they will train you as a teacher to make the decision. Do I wanna lock down or do I wanna try to get these kids outta here? And what they call run, hide, fight. But you know, for elementary schools, you're fighting anybody and even middle school. So, they'll decide, they'll tell the teacher or they'll make an announcement. There's a school shooter here, he's in the east wing of the building, blah, blah, blah. You know, we're gonna go into lockdown, or you can run out. I hate that because not only now are you confused about what the h*ll's going on, but now you've got 25 maybe more children in your classroom and you're gonna sit there and you're gonna make a decision that, okay, kids, we're gonna go out of this classroom and we're gonna run down that hallway and out that exit over there, out into the woods. Why would you possibly do that? What common sense thing would tell you to do that? Even if I knew the shooter was somewhere else in the campus, I don't know if there's another shooter out there, there may be two. I have no idea. I'm not gonna leave the safety of that classroom and go out into a hallway with 25 small children and try to gather them up when you're hearing screaming, you're hearing shooting, you may see bodies, you may see all kinds of bad stuff, and I mean, you're running, you're not gonna walk. You are just in a panic to get out of that hallway and outside and what's gonna happen. More than likely you're gonna pile up at that exit door and it's just gonna jam up and you're gonna funnel yourself down there and it just creates more chaos. I disagree with it. And especially on the elementary side, middle school, that's an iffy situation, maybe 50/50 high school. Okay, maybe high school, but Parkland down in Marjorie Stoneman Douglas here in Florida, the high school, a big high school with many levels, and I will back up a little bit. At first, it was written that they had never done an active shooter lockdown drill and that was put out to the press. And in fact, there's been a few books written about it. And I said, wait a minute, no, I remember them talking to a couple of teachers that were there and they said, no, we just did a drill last month. And it's true, they had done an active shooter drill in that high school a month prior to this active shooter situation that came in. What happened was they were ready for it, they were ready to go in the lockdown, but they had never trained for the fire drill to go off and the fire drill went off as far as I know, accidentally when was shooting the bullet hit something and the fire alarm went off.

So, now they're like, oh, now what do we do? So, some of the teachers said, we have to evacuate. And they started to evacuate and they got themselves in trouble, obviously by getting shot up, other teachers realized what was going on and went back into the classroom to lockdown and still other teachers thought, no, we're gonna run. Well, what happened was when they heard the shooting, they ran what they thought oh was away from the shooting, it was an echo, they were running towards the shooter. So, there was many mistakes made in that shooting instead of just staying in the lockdown. And of course, that was the first thing that was brought up when I still worked for the county like, Hey, what happens when a fire alarm goes off? Look, if you don't smell smoke, if you just stick your head out in the hallway and go, okay. I don't smell any smoke. I'm hearing gunfire, we're locking down, it only takes you a few seconds. So again, don't listen to fire alarm. Don't listen to any announcements. Don't listen to anybody telling you it's okay to come out. Stay safe. Stay in there until someone comes and gets you with the keys.

Michael: One of the things I'm wondering, I mean, that's a lot of really powerful context and as someone who's not a teacher, obviously I'm not trained in this, right? But I know as someone who has friends who are parents and who eventually one day very likely will be, it's like, how do I as a parent navigate this? On this one hand, it's like I'm trying to raise a healthy child, like the way I think through this thought process for me specifically is my mission is to end generational trauma in my lifetime through education. This conversation with you feels like education in which we can help people understand things at a little bit of a deeper scope, maybe contemplate things that they never contemplated by reading this book by getting a little bit deeper. But, you know, if you are a parent, like a – how do you talk to your child about this and b – like as a parent, like how do you navigate it knowing that there is this potential?

Daniel: From my perspective, again, my son is 16, so a little more sophisticated, and I ask him, what's happening at your school? How are you handling the lockdowns? And he says, as a high school, what they're doing is some months they will lock down, some months they will do the run of the run height fight part. And I'm like, okay, you know, I trust him that he knows what's going on. He doesn't panic easily, he does not as far as I know get emotional about it or is traumatized by the drills. Now, again, he's high school, I do have arguments from parents that elementary school children and even some middle school children, they feel that the drills are traumatic to the children. I can understand that. So, I like the idea of having unannounced drills but getting pushback from parents going, I don't want my child coming home saying, hey, we ran a drill today, they're like, you what? What happened? No one told us. I understand parents want to be informed about what's going on, so, and I still disagree, but if the schools want to make the announcement that on such and such date, we are going to run an active shooter drill, just to let you know, this is what we're doing, this is how we're going to run it. And let the parents know so they can tell their child, you know, John, you know, or Susie, remember today, they're gonna have an active shooter drill. Listen to what your teacher says and go ahead and no big deal. Just calmly, go over it.

Outside of that, if my son was much younger, more than likely I would tell him, this is how it's supposed to happen. If it's not happening this way at school, let me know because I have not had teachers tell me that when they wanted to do the run part of it, a child may say, hey, my dad said we're supposed to lock down. I'm sitting over here in the corner; I'm not putting myself in danger. I haven't had that happen, but I guarantee you it's gonna happen because there are parents out there that are former law enforcement or former military and believe that the lockdown is the way to go, not to run with small children out into, you know, God knows what. So, there's gonna be some pushback on that from the parental side, which that's probably what I would be doing if my son was much younger saying, look, they're supposed to be in a lockdown, that's the way this all things work. If it's not, parents have to step up, go to the school board. How are you running your safety drills? How are you running an active shooter? What are you doing during a bomb threat? Ask these questions, this is what's going on because there's so many things happening with the school system now, different things, bomb threats, bullying, active shooters, all these things going on. Ask the school, what are you doing? What is the plan? I don't need a 200-page plan. I mean, like a 10- or 15-page plan that a teacher can look at and quickly look that over and say, okay, I know what to do in each one of these situations, and most schools will do that. They'll usually have a just a little handbook that will tell the teacher and get flipped to the page, hey, this is what I need to do in these certain situations. I don't need a two- or 300-page admin book that just sits in the principal's office, but just something fast, easy to look at because again, we are having issues with substitutes and you would get substitutes going to a school going, I have no idea. No idea what I'm doing, where I'm going, they're just dealing with whatever assignments they have for that day they're not worried about an emergency.

So, I'm fortunate that I've run into basically every situation there is. I've run into situations where I had a hearing-impaired teacher who did not know the drill was going on because the person that was supposed to, the hearing person that was supposed to be their partner was not there that day. So, we fixed that. Okay. Need a plan B. I never did get to fix the idea of a noisy classroom, a band room, a gym, a cafeteria. I had workers in the cafeteria with walkie talkies and phones when we did the drill, they said, look, we never heard the announcement. I didn't hear it on my phone. There's too much noise in here when we couldn't figure out how to change that. So, it's something that just, I said, okay, we have to think up something, we couldn't figure out what it was but it's eventually gonna happen. And just one more thing, Michael, the three major times as at a school that are most vulnerable, arrival, lunchtime, and dismissal. So those should be the areas that teachers, I'm sure they're already, and administrators should concentrate on. Those are the times that you're most vulnerable for something like this to happen.

Michael: So, it sounds to me like a big part of this is, I'm just connecting some dots here. There's no uniformity across the board seems to me like every state has a different thing going, every school district probably does as well. And so it does fall, unfortunately, on the imperative of parents because really they do influence policy to get in there and have these conversations to show up. I would never even have thought to do, right? And again, I'm not a parent, so like it's contextual, but I want to inform people about how to do this because my thought is you know, if we create a parameter of safety in which we can avoid these unbelievably tragic events from occurring, then we can give each other so much more of a support system in healing in other areas ‘cuz it's like if this is the one thing that we don't have to worry about, I'm telling you right now, unless this changes, my children will be 100% homeschool. Period. And it's like that's not possible for what do we need to do? We need to create safety; we need to create parameters in which kids aren't growing up in environments like I do. We need to have conversations, open dialogue. We need to give people education and information, which is what we're doing here. And ultimately, I think like if we can do that at scale, by empowering people to be like, yeah, just, you know, go to the PTA meetings, go to the school board, write the letters, knock the doors like we have to ultimately be the change we want to see in the world. And so, Daniel, I appreciate you so much for coming on the show, this has been a great conversation. I've learned a ton, that's why I was really just kind of quiet back here ‘cuz I'm just soaking it in, just thinking about preparedness and thinking about how to giving this to my brothers and my sister who have kids in high schools and in elementary and middle schools who need to hear this ‘cuz they probably don't even know. Right. And sharing this with my community as well. Tell everyone, Daniel, where they can find you?

Daniel: You can find me on LinkedIn, you type my name in there and that will come up. I don't have a webpage per se, but you can find me on LinkedIn, my information's on there. My contact information is also on there with my email. And again, the book is on Amazon, the first five minutes you just punch in the first five minutes and I will, should be able to come up again. It's a short read, it's an easy read. It's a practical guide something that I think everyone should be aware of. And one more thing before I forget, Michael and I'm glad you brought that up. It is the human factor. A lot of times parents, and I don't say they're lazy, but a lot of times we'll have a knee-jerk reaction of metal detectors. Let's go with technology. No. Technology is not going to solve this issue, throwing much at it is not gonna solve this issue. Parental involvement, school boards, your legislature, they're the ones that are gonna make change.

Michael: Yep. Could not agree more. Daniel, my friend, thank you so much for being here, unbroken Nation. We'll put the links in the show notes for Daniel's books and his LinkedIn. If you go to, you look up his name, he will be there on our guest page and the blog as well.

Thank you for being here. Please do us a favor.

Go and leave a review for the podcast. Help someone else find this episode that can impact and create change in their life.

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My Friends, Be Unbroken.

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Daniel DluzneskiProfile Photo

Daniel Dluzneski


Daniel Dluzneski
Retired Lieutenant U.S. Secret Service
Former Coordinator Emergency Management, Safety and Security Pinellas County Schools

Growing up on a cattle farm in Connecticut, I developed a love of animals and I always had a desire to help others. I started my education at Southern Illinois University majoring in Criminal Justice. After working in a variety of jobs, I decided to apply to the Uniformed Division of the United States Secret Service.

Career Highlights- Secret Service
Over 24 years with the United States Secret Service
Canine bomb detection unit, and worked with my dog Korak protecting the President, Vice President and their families
Certified as a crime scene search technician
Public Affairs Spokesperson
Special Operation Officer White House Historical tours

Career Highlights- Pinellas County Schools
CPTED certification
Fire Inspector I State of Florida
Observed, supervised and coordinated over one hundred Active shooter school drills.
Standardized school emergency plans and the way active shooter drills should be run.
After my tenure in the Secret Service in 2013, I began working for the Pinellas County school system as the Coordinator of Emergency Management, Safety and Security. For 4 years I was solely in charge of our entire county, over 140 schools and 104,000 students. I made certain that each school had an emergency plan, ran the proper drills, maintained their physical security barriers. I personally attended PTA, SAC, and monthly teacher safety briefings and produced training PowerPoints for principals and administrators to standardize the county drills and procedures. Attending national seminars and trainings, active shooter scenarios, and certification through CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) kept me up to date on all aspects of school safety. I am also a Fire Inspector I for the state of Florida.

My personal mission is to educate people within organizations about what to do in an emergency situation, such as an active shooter, fire, or bomb threat. My background and experience is an invaluable tool to train people and help increase their confidence in responding to a threat. It is always better to be proactive and prepared in advance for a situation that may occur.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.