Sheepdog Mentality Featuring Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, retired US Army Ranger and Paratrooper, Psychology Professor, Author, trainer, and speaker talks to Cyndi Doyle about Sheepdog Mentality on the Code4Couples Podcast.


Who is Lt. Col. Dave Grossman?

You may be familiar with the term Sheepdog, Sheepdog Mentality, or even claim to be a part of the Sheepdog Nation.  I reached out to the sheepdog of all sheepdogs, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman!  We took some time to talk about Sheepdog Mentality and the current attack on him personally and on policing. He was kind and told me to call him “Dave”.

Some of you may be familiar with Lt. Col. Dave Grossman from his Sheepdog training or his book.  Lt. Col. Grossman is a retired US Army Ranger and Paratrooper, a former West Point psychology professor, and has been inducted into the US Marshall Hall of Fame. He is an American author who has five patents to his name, four novels, two children’s books, 6 nonfiction books, and his continually reoccurring bestseller On Killing, which has sold over half a million copies, as well as a New York Times best-selling book co-authored with Glenn Beck. He is one of our nation’s top leaders in training for law enforcement, military, mental health providers, and school safety organizations Lt. Col. Grossman is the Director of the Killology research group.

Attack on Policing Theory

In recent months, there has been a bit of a systematic attack on Lt. Col. Grossman claiming that he teaches killology to cops. Grossman stated “Criminology is not about teaching people how to be criminals, killology is not about teaching people how to kill and psychology is not about teaching people how to be psychos. Killology is about understanding that things have empowered and restrained killing in our society.”

There are recent articles about Lt. Col. Grossman that do not mention his credentials, nor any of his books or achievements. He explains that this small attack is, in a nutshell, demonstrating the bias and flaws that are happening to law enforcement across America. There is no truth being mentioned in various media outlets about what is occurring. This is one of the reasons why it is important for officers and spouses to understand the truth is from an expert.

What is Sheepdog Mentality

Code4Couples(R) has become what it is today because there is a psychology behind law enforcement and the “warrior mindset”.  My husband was reading On Combat one evening and it was a conversation from that book that led to an “ah-ha” moment in myself.   Lt. Col. Grossman corrected me and told me it is “The Sheepdog Mentality.”

Lt. Col. Grossman explains that the sheepdog mentality is that we as human beings have survival instincts and survival features of both predators and prey. We as individuals decide whether we will be a wolf (predator), sheep (prey), or a Sheepdog. Most people are not wired for violence and 99% of citizens never kill or seriously attempt to hurt anyone. Those that do are considered outliers and wolves because they feed on the sheep without mercy.

Law Enforcement individuals are Sheepdogs and are dedicated to protecting the flock and hunting the wolf. Officers are hardwired to have a neural network in their brain which results in them protecting. Because of this instinct to protect the flock, he states that most Law Enforcement Officers live in something call “condition yellow”. This is a condition of constant mental readiness which allows an officer or individual to stay in a state of awareness and prepared to act should a situation occur and is part of Cooper’s Colors. (You can learn more about Cooper’s Colors in my previous podcast here: Cooper’s Colors )

Dave emphasized that there are not many things worse than death.  He states, that for cops, what is worse is watching your loved ones die and not having their lifesaving tools, their gun, on their body to protect those they love.  Law Enforcement Officers are exposed to horrible situations daily and thus are also exposed to a wide array of horrible situations that could potentially happen to those that THEY love.

Law Enforcement Officers are Sheepdogs.

The goal of Lt Col Grossman’s book On Combat and the children’s book “Sheepdog: Meet our Nation’s Warriors” is to get the public to understand what Law Enforcement does, and why they are the guardian and the sheepdogs.

Dave and his wife have been married for 45 years.  He spoke about her lovingly on the podcast and expressed appreciation for her sacrifice for waiting at home for him even though he spends most of his time away from her to train law enforcement and military law enforcement.  Dave stated that the people most precious and most important to him besides his wife are his grandchildren. Grossman states that if we love our children/ grandchildren if we live our nation, our God, we will walk out that door and give every day all we have.  “The powerful thing about love is the worse it gets the more determined we are to give it all we got.”

He went on to state that:

No one ever becomes a cop to get rich.

No one ever becomes a cop to be a celebrity.

When someone chooses to be a cop, they choose and accept a life of sacrifice.

They must believe that their sacrifice is for a noble and worthy purpose.

This is who our Law Enforcement officers are.

They are Sheepdogs.

Hold your loved one’s hand but keep yourself gun hand free.

Lt. Col. Grossman discusses how his dad was a cop in Cheyenne Wyoming, 1962. He explained that his parents’ romance was novel-worthy, and he reflects on the memory of his parents.  Lt. Col. Grossman shared the story about how his parents were shopping in a store and they happened to be holding hands when they came upon an unhappy customer. The customer drew a gun and declared to kill both of his parents. Grossman says the suspect thought he was a “coyote” and found his “sheep.” His dad, the sheepdog, stepped in front of his mother, drew his weapon with his gun-free hand, and was able to de-escalate the situation. Dave said that because of his father’s sheepdog mentality, it saved his parent’s life. He went on to say, “I will walk the walk of a sheepdog for a lifetime for that one day that may buy back a life.”

Living as a Sheepdog

There were times in the past and even sometimes today that I want to run from living as a sheepdog.  In the past, I would roll my eyes at my husband wanting to carry off-duty.  There were other times I would look at him and ask, “You’re carrying, right?”  I had to learn what it meant for my husband to be a sheepdog.  I also had to decide if I was going to be a sheep or a sheepdog.  Grossman stated the healthy response is to follow the sheepdog model:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings by staying in the yellow.

  2. Carry the lifesaving tools you want and need on your person.

  3. Plan with your spouse with action steps should something bad happen. This can entail running, to get your kids out of the situation, and calling 911 to report the incident and describing what your officer is wearing, and stating that they are a Law Enforcement Officer.

The internal struggle for a spouse of a Sheepdog

I told Lt. Col. Grossman that my audience had specifically wanted to hear from him regarding the attack on cops and the frustration of spouses wanting to demonstrate that 99% of officers are honorable people doing their job to help humanity.  He said we need to consider our internal Locus of Control, a psychological concept developed by Julian Rotter.

In the concept, Rotter talks about having an internal or external Locus of Control when events and situations in life occur.  An External Locus of Control causes us to feel victimized by the situation leaving us feeling powerless while an Internal Locus of Control helps us to consider how we want to adjust or act, thus empowering us.

Grossman states that Rotter’s method helps us choose to let go of what we cannot control.  He says spouses and officers must let go of what is happening out in society because it is beyond their control. Focus instead on the things that we can do such as attend Back the Blue rallies, support groups, etc. He also suggests letting go of what everyone else is doing and to turn it over to a higher power.

Lt Col Grossman reminds us that all you can be is the best version of yourself and to set aside negative emotions. He says this will set a powerful example of what one person can do. Always live in the moment and tell your spouse you love them regardless of the situation. Not out of fear but out of loving intensely.

As individuals, as spouses, as officers, we must be willing to say we support law enforcement. We must stand up without being defensive and continue to do what we know is right. We can control our behaviors and beliefs.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead


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Sheepdog Mentality Featuring Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, retired US Army Ranger and Paratrooper, Psychology Professor, Author, trainer, and speaker talks to Cyndi Doyle about Sheepdog Mentality on the Code4Couples Podcast.