The Protectors® Podcast

#444 | Joe Fasanella | Trinity Training Complex | NYPD to Homeland Security

August 10, 2023 Dr. Jason Piccolo Episode 444
#444 | Joe Fasanella | Trinity Training Complex | NYPD to Homeland Security
The Protectors® Podcast
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The Protectors® Podcast
#444 | Joe Fasanella | Trinity Training Complex | NYPD to Homeland Security
Aug 10, 2023 Episode 444
Dr. Jason Piccolo

Joe Fasanella joined The Protectors® to talk about his pivot from NYPD Counterterrorism to becoming a federal agent.  We talk training, policing, small business ownership, and a ton more!  


Support the Show.

Make sure to check out Jason on IG @drjasonpiccolo


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Joe Fasanella joined The Protectors® to talk about his pivot from NYPD Counterterrorism to becoming a federal agent.  We talk training, policing, small business ownership, and a ton more!  


Support the Show.

Make sure to check out Jason on IG @drjasonpiccolo


Speaker 1:

Hey, welcome to the protectors podcast. I'm here with Joe Fesson. Joe, what's going on, brother?

Speaker 2:

Same old my man.

Speaker 1:

We are in person, yes, and the beautiful Staten Island, yes.

Speaker 2:

The forgotten borough, the forgotten borough.

Speaker 1:

Oh my gosh. You know I've never been to Staten Island. Now I'm like a veteran of the NYPD. I mean all over New York, but Staten Island's a different placement. I like being out here because there is a lot of space. Now, where are the Trinity training complex?

Speaker 2:

Correct.

Speaker 1:

And where did? Where did this concept come from?

Speaker 2:

So this is about. I would like to say it's a few year project, but it's really like almost a 10 year project. We decided on Staten Island for a lot of reasons. Number one I live here, I was born here, raised here, probably going to die here. The entry through the manner is that's the only borough that would kind of even tolerate or maybe even be palatable for this kind of complex. It's typically a red city compared to the rest of, you know, the five boroughs. I consider this the last line of defense when it comes to actual, real New Yorkers still being here. That's wind.

Speaker 1:

Okay, yeah, we don't know guys, but you know, what's really cool about this is doing it in person podcast is it's real man. This is real as you get. This isn't like zoom, this isn't stream yard and all the other stuff, but you were you started off in the PD, right?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I started off in NYPD. I got on the job in July of 04. Spent about a little under 13 years there and then, back in 2016, I flipped over to the air motion service under DHS and it was just, it was time kind of. Everything kind of happened for a reason. I was always looking for a fed job. Even when I first got on this job, prior to it, I was an intern at Secret Service, so I had post 9 11, I joined the Marine Corps, went from the Marine Corps pretty much in my junior or senior year of college, finished my undergrad and I was doing the reserve thing. I had gotten my internship with Secret Service down on Adams Street in Brooklyn with the hopes of never touching a PD uniform but just going right into federal work. And unfortunately I didn't have enough work experience. They like, like that. I had military, but they didn't really. You know, I had nothing really to hang my hat on because I was just a college kid. They said, oh, go, go into the PD for a little bit, a year or two, get it. Get, you know, cut your teeth a little bit and then come on over. And that was kind of like my plan and then got into the police department that July. I graduated college that May, got into the police department in July of 04. Immediately got out to the 61st precinct which is in a ship's of a Brooklyn, was doing that for a little bit and I got activated with the military.

Speaker 2:

So I did my deployment with the Marine Corps, went to Fallujah in 2006, came back and during my transition back to like PD life, I actually was taking like a intro to you know bomb awareness or some some bullshit class and the guy that was in the class was showing really antiquated pictures and I said, hey, you know, I just left Iraq. I said I have these cool like this cool you know file of like all different things that we uncovered while I was there. I said Let me give it to him. So I handed to him and the very next day he goes hey, man, I went through that dumb drive. He goes that's some seriously cool stuff. Like where where's this from? I said Well, I said I only left the contrary, like not even 90 days ago. I'm like literally just just fresh out of Fallujah. I said, and I was working with an Intel team that had you know carte blanche, the old, different types of evidence. So I kind of picked and chose and always took tough in because I thought it was just. You know, I'm going to want to look back on this stuff one day. And in doing so he goes hey, man, I, I like what you've been through, I like where you've been, I like what you're going through and I think you have some value, maybe with a friend of mine. Let me introduce you to this guy.

Speaker 2:

So Richie the bomb guy, the bomb tech. He introduces me to this guy, ed Sloan. Ed is unbeknownst to me at the time, a first grade detective which I didn't even know the difference. I was so boot on the job. I didn't realize what the value of a first grader was. Like a first graders, like you know, high on the point totem pole, like this is very few of them.

Speaker 2:

And he introduces me to Ed and Ed sitting down with another guy, pete, and they say, hey, we want to, we want to talk to you. So they invite me to the counterterrorism division which is in Coney Island, brooklyn, and I go and I sat there and they put me in this library and I sat down with Ed and Pete and they just talk, much like we're talking now and over the course of the conversation. Eventually he goes hey, you know I like some of the experiences you've been through. We want to put that to good use. But understand that this is a very passive unit, like we don't kick indoors, we don't, none of that happens. But the terrorism value is there. So would you be interested in maybe applying for counterterrorism division? I was like Well, I mean, doesn't everybody want to be here? It's post 9, 11. The unit's brand new, it's sexy, it's hard, super fun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah funded.

Speaker 2:

You know, of course I want to do that was a patrol cop. He goes, look I'm, I goes, I'm just a detective, but let me see what I could do. I'll put in a good word. I said Well, I appreciate that. So fast forward, about a month, maybe two months. I'm actually in the middle of a trial prep for homicide. If I found a gun that was killed the guy, they had it on top of an elevator and I recovered it. So I was a piece of the evidence chain for the detectives that were, you know, doing the enhancement.

Speaker 2:

I'm in the middle of that and I'm upstairs with the squad and I'm, like you know, completely unrelated to anything terrorism or any, you know, transfers or anything like that and the boss that on the desk is like hey, come, come downstairs. So immediately I think I'm in trouble Because I'm like there's no way I'm getting called down to the desk for anything good. And I get down there and, lieutenant, down there is actually a good dude, I used to drive him a lot. He's like hey, he's like come over here. So I go behind the desk Because I would never go behind the desk Because back in the days we had respect for our bosses and he's like come here, come here. And he's pointing at the telephone message.

Speaker 2:

I'm like what? I don't even know what the fuck this is, you know. So I look into it and it says, as a midnight hours, you know, plf and all are transferred to counterterrorism, counterterrorism division. So I'm looking at it and look at him and I'm looking at him, he's looking at me. He's like he goes, you can go away now. I'm like okay. So he's gonna like say something, you know. And I go back up to the squad and the detectives looking at me like you're all right, are you in trouble? I'm like yeah, I said I'm good, I said I'm actually transferred, I'm done. I said I can't even do the trial. I said I'm going on transferring as a midnight hours tonight I had no idea what the hell that meant. They're like to where I'm like counterterrorism division and everything just stops.

Speaker 2:

They're like fuck the case, let's, let's say, all of a sudden they're pulling, like you know, little bottles out from their bags and stuff like that he stepped in shit kid and have a drink and I'm like whoa, like this is another side of the department I've never seen, you know. So it's cool. It was, like you know, it was pretty much wet behind the years. And here I am, this like super junior dude transferring to a very senior unit, and it was. It was nothing but trials and tribulations. I spent the first probably two years just trying to figure out my place amongst really seasoned people like we had, you know, the proverbial first grade detectives. Guys who were, you know, cut their teeth and you know organized crime Making names for themselves in narcotics and all these things. And then they had this like white shield, mix it amongst it and it's like, well, where do you fit in this whole thing? Well, my question was well, where do you guys fit in this whole thing? Like you know, why are you here? You know, you just hanging your hand on the fact that you were this, that the other, like you know, we're doing terrorism work which pre 9-11 really didn't exist, and now this unit is just boom, mm-hmm.

Speaker 2:

I come to find out that the guy that kind of vouched for me, the guy Ed, was a naval intelligence officer. He had spent a lot of time in Cuba, you know, doing get-most-off, and he was one of the people that they valued as someone who says has knows a little thing or two and he can kind of Read between the lines when they're interviewing people, and that's how I kind of that's kind of how I got in. So I ended up getting transferred. I didn't go right to the division, I ended up going to a little offshoot which was Office of Emergency Management.

Speaker 2:

So it was a little offshoot down in Cabin Plaza, down by the Brooklyn Bridge, and I was fucking miserable. It was the worst, the worst thing I ever did. But in retrospect, if I was on, if I was an 18 year veteran, it would have been awesome because it was like the place you go to die, yeah. But with three years, four years on the job, I was like, ah, it's not really where I want to be. So I was begging, you know, clawing my way back to the division to get back to terrorism stuff. But you listen, saying I got, I'd spent about a year there.

Speaker 2:

I was doing like watch control watch command, which was um Kind of like you have a finger on the pulse of everything that goes on, so every agency has a representative in that building. So I learned a little bit of interagency work and I spent my, spent my year just basically Watching things unfold in real time. So I had the papal visit, we had the crash in the Hudson, so these are all things that I was like I lived through and I and in retrospect I'm like, wow, these are really notable events. But at the time I didn't really mean much of anything to make because New York that happens, stuff like that happens all the time, I'd say on any given day back, especially back then.

Speaker 1:

It was just wild. This is New York, is so big man. Yeah, there was like 40,000 officers.

Speaker 2:

So when I got on the job there was about 38,000 I could. We're nowhere near that.

Speaker 2:

No yeah, you know that's. That's a bonnet contention we are, you know there's been a mass exit. That's because most of the hiring was right after 9-11. So our numbers pre 9-11 were smaller. Then we bumped up, you know, with funding and all this other stuff and in the post 9-11 push when people actually wanted to be a cop. And then I'd say for me, I saw the transition of people. Son, to say, when we look elsewhere Was probably around the time. I like to show on bell shooting, hmm, which was the first time where I had ever experienced like riots.

Speaker 2:

Yeah and then that kept happening, that it was occupied Wall Street. Zuccott about like yeah, like these things were like great, these things were happening and happening, and like what would be a small pocket of resistance would turn into bigger and bigger, and then eventually to what we see now, now, now, today. So I think I'd like to say that it's kind of started with that.

Speaker 1:

Now, when do you make the jumps to the feds?

Speaker 2:

2016. Okay, so I left in 16.

Speaker 1:

So you had a decent amount. Were you doing terrorism all the up until then?

Speaker 2:

yeah, from from about three years on right up until the end, okay, and that's, you get your way back to the division, or so I made it, made my way to the division.

Speaker 2:

I eventually spend about eight years in the C burn team so doing Ken bio, rad, mucus explosives, and that's kind of where I learned a Lot of cool stuff. So my first project was um. I Was overseeing the suicide bomber interdiction team, so we had some technology that came in from Israel. Mm-hmm, I was basically handed like a 500,000 dollar machine and said, hey, the Israelis are gonna come teach you how to use this figure. I had to implement it. It was like a crash course and how to like set up photography. It was like a big camera that was on a gimbal mount. I have no way, I'm a knuckle dragon marine at the time. So I have those crazy stuff and like they like, don't drop the lens at. The lens alone is 50 grand. I'm like, oh my god, but how many do we have of these? Like four. I'm like, oh my god, like, and I'm responsible for this. I was freaking out and that turned into bigger and bigger stuff and we basically would the.

Speaker 2:

The division has like this unlimited budget. Right, they have the, the account and all the money goes through the division, so even other units benefited from. Can a terrorism having this one way. You know two-way street with the federal budget, and it was constantly flexed. You know people always, you know we need to kiss the ring of counterterrorism are to make sure we get this unit, that truck, this, that though. So we had a lot of cool equipment. We had a lot of cool training. You know it wasn't uncommon that, like you know, you'd be getting email in the morning I go. Doctor Jane Oxley from Harvard is in town. You know blah blah, blah, blah blah. She's gonna be doing a class on, you know, improvised explosives.

Speaker 1:

Well, think about it. New York is like the epitome of counterterrorism and, and when you talk about the budget and you being on that unit as a junior Officer, she's amazing. That's where, like, I can imagine your experience bringing it into the Fed world. But not also that. But everything happened since then. You know, with understanding the realities of what you need, sure, realistically To mount a counterterrorism operation, but also to be able to deal with, like a stressful environment, like when you'd say you're dealing with this, hundreds of thousand dollars of equipment, you, then you also have to think about, okay, I'm like, if you drop this, that's responsibility, man, yeah. But then when you get into like, okay, well, it's not just the equipment, it's like what does it do? Right, how does it do it? You have to be super. You can't just be a knuckle-dragger anymore for sure, for sure.

Speaker 2:

You have to understand that camera sees Heat, so you're ninety point six degrees roughly. That camera has the ability to cool down. Let's just say arbitrarily like negative three hundred. So any change in heat that's coming out off your body or something that's blocking heat from coming off your body Get silhouetted as a thermal anomaly and that's how we determine. All right, is that person concealing something below their clothes? The trials and tribulations of stopping people for those few.

Speaker 2:

You know years that we were kind of getting the system up and running and trying to figure out how to get it. That was great, as gray area stuff which is going to tie into why the company's called condition was why the call. My initial company was called condition gray, because Terrorism work at the time was neither black nor white, because we were still kind of figuring it out post on 11 policing. It was very different than pre 911 policing. I won't pretend to explain that.

Speaker 2:

I even understand what a 90s cop went through in New York Cuz. That was some crazy friggin times. But I also can't imagine a 90s cop ever fathoming what's happened post on 11, you know, if they had retired and saw that. I mean we're dealing some crazy stuff and there's no shortage. I say this whole time, isn't? There's no shortage of assholes out there. The activity post 911 was just as rampant as it was pre 911. I think we were just more open to looking for it. I think JTTF and units like that, they really had their hands full. And there's a lot of inter-agency issues too, like between at the time I remember was like counter terrorism, jttf in television.

Speaker 2:

Now I think since I've left the job they've merged and you know like it's. You know there's a lot of like weird.

Speaker 1:

Well, now that that's the other thing is. Now you're in the Fed world, you understand the Fed, you're on my god yeah yeah, we're not gonna. I don't really want to get in too much about your current. That job is with the fans and everything Cuz. I understand the implications of that, but I could understand leaving such a big agency to go work for the feds. I can understand wanting to do something different, something that's not going to limit you, something's going to give you more of a budget.

Speaker 2:

For sure.

Speaker 1:

And you're not. You know, and I'd imagine 13 years on a job, you're going to have some sort of guilt of leaving.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, like you know how you manage 13 years.

Speaker 1:

I'm vested. Do I leave? What was that taking that step like?

Speaker 2:

And it was a little easier for a guy like myself at the time because I had pretty much burnt my bridges in the division. I had an issue with a boss who really the best thing that ever happened to me was he jammed me out. You know he came in late in my career and I was still a white shield who was young on the job but also senior in the unit. That was kind of an anomaly. There was only a handful of us that had probably less than 10 years on and we happened to be this now senior people in the unit. So you get this young hotshot boss. He kind of came in with a little bit of a yeah, I'm going to do things my way. But reality is in that a unit like that bosses were only really good for like overtime slips and days off you know, like I don't really need you for the actual expert stuff because you're not really much of anything.

Speaker 2:

And this guy I actually started out liking him and I thought we had a little bit of rapport, but when everything, when push came to shove, he actually tried to jam me up for military paperwork so he screwed himself. It led to a federal case and the rest is kind of for another day.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, departmentally case, for another day, the military deployment.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So he went the wrong way about it and it gave me, when everything was said and done, gave me the ability to kind of choose what I want to do in my life and at the time I could have went back to the job. But I had this federal offer and I literally was on military leave. I came back from military leave, I came back to the job for one day, that's it out, and by I was on a Thursday. And the funny thing is about NYPD, like there's no like, it's not like ceremony, like unless you're like a white shirt, you know big time chief.

Speaker 2:

But at the time it was I was married and my ex and I we went up to one PP to turn in my stuff and at the time there was a guy who was being federally indicted, who was a chief, who was being indicted because of some scandal that happened with licensing division, which is kind of ironic. That I don't I have the CCW kind of foothold now but ironically he's getting a walkout, even though he's going to jail or going to do some time or whatever the heck was going on with his life. He was under the watchful eye of the federal federal government. So this guy's getting a full walkout, full ceremony.

Speaker 2:

You know people stand in saluting and here I am a cop and good standing and you know what I got? I got to go up to this half barn door where they put a pillow up and a little pillow has like a little bit of like gold trim and it says you know, congratulations on your retirement. And you put your shield down on it and they go thank you for your service. Just cookies and coffee in the next room. And this minute you turn around, you know what you hear Clank, clank. That's thrown into a box with every other fucking cop and my wife at the time she looked at me and she goes, that's it.

Speaker 1:

I said, yeah, that's it.

Speaker 2:

She's like that's it, this is, this is the job. She's like. You killed yourself for this place. You gave your best years to this place. I said onto bigger and better things, sure shit. And eventually I would by. Next to that, following Tuesday, I was in my New York field office doing my you know initiation and I remember I hit three hours of traffic that day because my office was in Queens and I remember driving home going fuck, I shouldn't have done this. I can't stand traffic Like it's.

Speaker 1:

Like it's the bane of my existence in New York, you know.

Speaker 2:

But I go into the academy. I kept my mouth shut, kept my ears open, because now I'm older dude, going through a federal academy and just don't show your cards and little by little, I, you know, I'd try to put myself. Where did you work? Worked at an MPD, yeah, but you could shoot. So you guys are not known for that. I train on the outside. I'm kind of training. I have a company oh, what do you do? I am this company called Condition Gray. What is that? You know? Immediately the next day they come in. They're like hey, man, you, I've seen your products before. Okay, all right.

Speaker 2:

So by the time I left the academy, people who had the bag was out. They would try to throw me all sorts of curveballs just for fun, and you know I'm going to navigate them. I've been through seeing, seeing a lot of cool things over my life and navigate a lot of weird stuff. Life was good. So I graduate, I get to my field office Right just prior to COVID.

Speaker 2:

I was selected to work on Viper, which is like our kind of like our ground team, which is kind of still kind of in its figuring it out kind of stage. It's kind of a weird unit, but then they say nobody wants to go out there. I wanted a little break from flying. I was having issues with my ex which would eventually lead to a divorce, and I joined Viper and Viper was supposed to be like a two year stint and two years because COVID turned into three, which turned into almost four, and then in that time the agency had a lot of, I think, interesting dynamics. We were being used for more things. I ended up going to the DC riots, some riots in other parts of the country, riots in my own home city. I'm seeing people at the border all over the place.

Speaker 2:

Border, border was in. That's a whole. I was just there. Border was interesting and, as NSSEs, let's backtrack.

Speaker 1:

You mentioned that you started the company. Where did this all start?

Speaker 2:

I mean like it started because when I was jammed up. So I get jammed up and I get booted from Canada terrorism because I have to go, you know, rub a gun squad, so to speak, and I get sent to central booking, which is where we're talking about with Aaron, and I spent a few months there and in that time, while I'm waiting for my case to kind of fall into place, fighting with lawyers and the PBA, trying to figure out how to get back to work, back to doing the real work, and in that time there was a point where I was like, well, what if I don't? What if I can't get back to it? I just spent a good portion of my life establishing these skills that very few cops have. What if this job, what if I don't have a job? When this is said and done? So I was kind of like, man, let me take some money out, let me establish something. So I start investing in myself, I start seeking schools that I knew I could go to and I end up going like self paid my way through Darcy level one, Darcy level two and all these shooting courses and I said, let me see what's out there. How do I structure this if I was to do this here Because there was nobody out here.

Speaker 2:

And I come back and in that time, while I'm at Darcy, I had an incident where I went to go dip out of a car under nods and my sling got caught around the seatbelt because my rubber band failed. So check that in the back of the box, because we're going to circle back to that and I finished the drill on. I was completely humbled by that course. That course is an absolute kick in the nuts, Like if you think you have any understanding of like close quarters combat, go there and then figure out if you really do. Because by Wednesday I was like my head was like in between my legs and my tail was stuck.

Speaker 2:

I was like man, this is an ass kekka, but it was a good ass kekka because it opened up my eyes to, as Richard put it, you know, you don't know what you don't know and we know. We have this like King Kong theory in New York, where the NYPD were the biggest, were the best. We have this, we have that. We're still so far behind and I'll get to that. So condition gray opens. I don't even know if I was legally allowed to have it in the eyes of the NYPD at the time, I didn't give a fuck, which is pretty much my attitude, going forward with it, with the job, and you have to have an outlet.

Speaker 1:

You have. It's not just an outlet, you have to have an out for sure. You know, like when I was, when I was going through the Fed, I was having some issues there. I had like five or six different things, like if a happens, I'm going to do B. Yeah, b happens, I'm going to do C, and if I got to go back to A, I'll go back to A.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, sometimes you got to take a few steps back to go, to go forward and there's like this unrelenting, like grasp that, like policing has over you like, oh what, I can't do anything else. You absolutely can't do anything else. I laugh because I think, like three year cops not seeking a Fed job are out of their minds. They are out of their minds Because in those three years you're going to put your hands on more people and interact with more people than any Fed world. You know that. You know it's my. If you saw my two sets of handcuffs and I wasn't even like this, like super active cop, but like my Fed cop, my Fed cuffs and like my NYPD cuffs, so like once pristine, you could tell they've only been used in like a training environment.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the other ones are like there's like probably DNA on it. Still, you could probably like said like an okay, I'll logical dig on them, they're just nasty, but my philosophy, too, is like Treat it like a military enlistment.

Speaker 1:

You want to serve. They'll become a cop for four or five years.

Speaker 2:

You don't have to do a career man.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, go move on and it pays off. And I find that NYPD is funny. So a few guys that were coming on my job would sit on the panel and I knew that they were coming in or knew they were coming into a panel interview. I'd be like, how'd they do? And they're like, oh they did terrible. And I'm like why they're like they wouldn't answer the questions with them. They would only answer the questions with wait. I'm like because that's the we is all they got. I said it's programmed that the big blue walls coming, it's coming back up. And NYPD was good about that.

Speaker 2:

And I think a lot of these guys have a hard time individualizing themselves as something beyond the team. So they come on the panel interviews. They botched the questions because the person on the panel is like, no, tell me what you did. I don't care what you guys did, I want to know what you did. And that's kind of a inertia. So we actually started doing a couple of years ago we would do federal job, like workshops, to kind of tell guys, hey, how do you navigate these? Because it took me forever to get a job. I went through the bureau, I went through the A, went through all these different things and it took me a hundred tries before I finally got the job I wanted. And you know, like anything else, like the stars have to kind of align, like you have to fit the right, you know what they want for that hiring process.

Speaker 2:

Let's just put it that way, you know, for lack of better words.

Speaker 1:

you know they may need to get the feds are hemorrhaging now too, because I was like I retired March, but you know I went in 2000 and 2001 was a huge push. That's going to become a special agent with customs back then. But now everybody's retired and now trying to find people to qualify and qualify at applicants.

Speaker 2:

They let them go over the past 10 years. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

You know, growing up on the East Coast, you know because I grew up in Jersey and it was like everybody wanted to be a cop. I talked to another captain the other day and he was like you know, we used to get like we hadn't hired an announcement. We had 800 people. Now we're lucky if we get 80 or 90 and out of that we're lucky if we get we can get a handful that can make it through the process. So then it comes down to like the quality of people you're getting is a lot different, but in there there is quality. And then we have to look at the big picture.

Speaker 1:

Is because there's such big agencies and I always thought I'm like ah, you're NYP, you're going to be able to go to training in this and that, but now you're in these small departments, you're not going to get training. You're lucky if you get the quala with 50 rounds or more. You're lucky, right. And there's just simply no training. Use a force Good luck with that. Yeah, training, good luck with that. Blue on blue force training or anything, good luck with that. So you get into the gear. But then when do you start doing the training?

Speaker 2:

So training started in 2015. My very first class is ironic it was a night vision class because I was hot off the Darcy you know, the Darcy grad, and I was coming to bring this and that's going to bring everyone in. And my first night vision class was down in South Jersey shooting club and we failed it. But man, the skills were all over the place. There are people that just have gear, just to have gear, and there are people that were good to go, but for the most part it was a hodgepodge mix of people.

Speaker 2:

And what I realized was is that before we can start doing stuff like that, we have to kind of solidify the fact that people need to have good weapons manipulations. So we spent the kind of took a step back and said, all right, well, what do we need to build people up so they could take classes like that? And the answer was we need to do basic basic pistol, basic rifle, basic pistol, basic rifle. And we just loaded the schedule for years, probably like two or three years, to build up enough alumni, just so that when you do a specialty class, you have that, that certain caliber of student who can step in and not, you know, jeopardize the safety of class, because it's different out here. We're not born with guns in our granddaddy's rifle Weapon safety is kind of a thing that's kind of implemented as they kind of fall into their own.

Speaker 1:

You know you just brought up a great point is like you think about how many cops, how many feds, how many everything live within this. Like these square miles and like the laws and everything don't make it conducive to go and get even ammo to train on your own. And our do this. Our find a range that you could do not just like, a flat range or nothing dynamic at all.

Speaker 2:

If anything, you're just shooting paper, no, no no, unless you're doing competitions, you ain't moving a gun anywhere on any of these ranges and they're just small.

Speaker 2:

I mean, we're looking at Staten Island. We have a couple of really nice ranges, but you're still dealing with antiquated mindset, that you have older range officers who are dealing with a younger generation who's now like a GWAT level or era person who wants to be dynamic, shoot from a holster and that's part of their job, maybe, and they're like freaking out about that. Easy there, fellow Can't do a rhythm Six round body.

Speaker 1:

Well, think about this too. Rhythm drill. You have like big departments too, or even little ones, a lot of times a range guys are like old school, old school, oh yeah, yeah. And. I think they started this to hot rub off.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that we're getting past that now, but there was a point where, like you know, if you were shooting quick, they're like, oh, we can't do that.

Speaker 1:

So tell us about this complex. So this place is and you showed me around. I'm seriously impressed, Thank you. Thank you very much.

Speaker 2:

I love this place. It's kind of like an extension of my brain, which is kind of sad to say because it's so weird, but it's definitely me. So one of my students, bob, who's now my business partner, at one point about four or five years ago he's like hey, man, where you going with all this? I said I had no idea. He's like you got to do, you got to have something in mind. I said, well, he's like, what's the end state of doing classes and putting out products? I said, well, I guess to retire and have something, you know, always have a back, you know, fall back. You know dad got kids, got college, you know, and then they're young, I know I had to do something. He's like well, in a perfect world, what would you want? I said, well, I'd want a facility that I could do everything you know indoor, live fire, cqb, night vision, whatever, If you, you know, the sky's the limit. He goes all right. Where would you put it?

Speaker 2:

So we spent about the first year of looking in like Pennsylvania for large plots of land. Then we all was like, yeah, it's too far. We were losing all our weekends, you know, with our kids and stuff. So then there was Jersey. And then that was still kind of far and the gun laws are weird and things were changing. And then we were looking into Long Island and I was like well, fuck Long Island because I hate the parkway. And eventually I told him with a straight face I said I want to be in the city. He's like where. I said stand down. He's like, well, that's convenient. I said it is because we have three Rangers here. We have a red leading kind of clientele who are kind of pro gun, pro cop, pro military. I said honestly, like the last real New Yorkers left, I said everyone else is like transients. Even after COVID you still got that transient community of people that are coming out from like God knows where to try to make the name here and I think like when you're in Staten Island you're dealing with an actual, real New Yorkers. Like there's a different vibe when you go to like a local story that you can kind of feel it. And so I told him stand out.

Speaker 2:

And then that started about a year or more of just looking at building after building and the price is here on astronomical. If I told you my overhead for this building you'd fall off your chair, but it had to be built. It's like if you build it, they will come so fast forward to last July we found this complex. I passed this building 50 times in our search, but this building was in mid reconstruction and at the point where we were just about to give up, this place finally came available. So we came. We looked at it because we were looking at another spot down the block and it was a lot smaller. But then we got off for this one and we're like you know what? Fuck it, let's take it. So we go, we walked the property. Everything was as you kind of see it now, but just wide open and it was off to the drawing board.

Speaker 2:

Well, how are we going to? What's the aesthetic? I want New York, I said. I want to feel New York. I want to walk in here and say, all right, that's the grind of a New Yorker. So we got this graffiti artist who me, him and another staffer, a good kid Frank. We decided to go to Manhattan and we went to, like you know, lower-glowery side where, like some of the coolest art is, you know where people are literally tagging up everything under the sun, and we spent the entire day day drinking and looking at graffiti, eating ice cream, eating food and like eating Cuban food, like we made a day of it and we just went from place to place taking pictures, Like I love that, I love that, I love that. And then we came back and we kind of set up a read book and we were like, all right, well, this is the graffiti we wanted to bring here and that's kind of how it came to be. But then, with tweaks, so you know, you'll see places in there like oh, it's the pink houses the pink houses.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so for the people who are listening to this, there's actually a room and it has like just incredible graffiti everywhere. It's not just cop-centric too. I mean, you got Biggie in there and you got like everybody you could imagine, oh, we're gonna stand out.

Speaker 2:

And so you have that Wu-Tang, it's like you can't grow up here without at least listening to one song, knowing at least one song by heart. But there's references in there. So, like you know, my first field office was next to Queens Ridge, so when we first go to do ops, that's our homage to that. The pink houses I had bricks thrown at me on the roof because I was sitting on top of a fire department building doing counter gun stuff with that same system I was telling you about earlier. So the pink houses I never worked in a 7.5. It's the first time I've ever been out.

Speaker 2:

It was like a mythical place for me because I was a Brooklyn South guy and then I was like, oh, we're going to the Brooklyn North to do this. And I'm like, oh, it sounds scary, it's funny because I got a cop really good friends with it. He's a housing cop. He's like you were on top of that. Ugh, I was like why? I'm like I don't know, it sounds like a good idea at the time. The city's wild. It's definitely worse than it's ever been now and that kind of this place is kind of like an answer to well, if the job's not going to give you the training and there's no resource for you elsewhere, what would you?

Speaker 1:

have. Now. Where are you bringing in the instructors from?

Speaker 2:

A lot of them came with me over from condition gray because they were tritured and tested. We're a funny place, so we shoot for our job. In other words, if you want to work on our staff in any capacity that you're going to touch a firearm, you have to shoot first, because everybody here has these tremendous resumes and it's just you know. 10 pages of just. You know I love me. Okay, you're going to go with my director training who's a fucking, he's a shooter, he's a mother motherfucker of a shooter and you're going to go with him and you're going to shoot for your job. Do I want you to shoot like him? No, not everyone can, I can't. But you should be pretty close, because if you're going to step in front of a crowd of your peers, they should look at you and say, well, that's where I can get to. And if you can't do that, I can't just hang your resume on the target. You have to be able to show it, and I think that that has created animosity because people are like oh well, I don't want to shoot for my job, then you don't need to work for us, I need other companies to go follow and I'm okay with that.

Speaker 2:

That term comes from my current job, because the early post-911 agency was hey, you want to come work for us, come shoot for your job. And they had two buses and we always get told the story, the lineage of how the service was created, and it's like there's two buses one for those who passed and went on to training and one that went back to whatever job they came from. I always thought that was impressive and when you look around the industry, some of these people are still in the industry because they've now they've left up my agency and now they're on their own and they're doing their things. And my original staff shirts were Burgundy and Maroon for the people who were with me the longest, because that's a homage to those instructors.

Speaker 2:

So there's a lot of. We never do anything. That's like unpurposeful, so to speak. If that's even a word, there's always like a hidden agenda behind it. Like, oh, why do they wear that color? Well, also for instructors who have been with me since day one, because they shop for their jobs and we have some sick instructors on our staff.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's the thing too is like when you brought up the resume, especially when it comes to firearms a tactical, you could be former, whatever, and you might not be a good instructor, you could shoot me, whatever, but to be able to shoot and instruct it's a tough thing.

Speaker 2:

New Yorkers are like tough people, like to look and press. But you could out shoot the shit out of them and they'd be like, yeah, he's good, yeah, whatever, yeah, whatever he's good. Like it's like the guy just friggin' crushed the drill. Like give him credit. Where credit is there? That guy's good, you know whatever. That's just New York mantra. But we've established ourselves. I'm sure we have people that love us. We have people that hate us.

Speaker 1:

There's always going to be haters. It could be the best company in the world, but it's I don't know if it's Ego or envy are just unknowing. For sure A lot of it is unknowing because they don't know what goes on behind the doors For sure. Now, trinity I love that word, I love it. It's so cool. But also, what's your vision now?

Speaker 2:

To stay alive. So we opened the doors quietly. We didn't know if we were going to have protesters outside our front door. We didn't push it, we didn't like advertise it, we just said let's let the doors breathe and see what walks in. And we've survived.

Speaker 2:

We're actually just hit a year this year that we've been in this building. November would be really a year since we've been open, but we've had a crazy year. So in the past, since November, so however many months that is, we've had close to 800 students for just CCW alone. So basically, july we take over the building. August we start construction. September this crazy thing called the Bruin case All of a sudden just emerges out of nowhere. We knew it was common, but we didn't know what the outcome of it was and it just changed the dynamic of what we were intending to do, because the goal was to train law enforcement military law enforcement military, because it's really all we had and just continued the condition gray model. And now you have this variable that comes out of the blue with the Bruin case and now 18 million people in the five boroughs wants to now on a fire.

Speaker 2:

So where do you go? Well, thank the gods, one of the prerequisites, or one of the one of the aspects of CCW is that you can have any type of striker fire ammunition to include NLTA, which is what this facility is. So you can do your quality, you could satisfy the needs of the New York State DCJS, whatever cert is, whatever the requirements are, with some munitions, force on force, utm, because those are striker fired munitions. So now, in the safety of this building, you can do your quail and take your class all onto one roof. Now, where does that leave us? What is my future? Well, we have 800 people. Probably by November will have over a thousand, so that's a thousand CCW holders who are in the myriad of different aspects of their process, some who have already received their permit, some who are still on the cusp of it, and then they're going to get it and with the hopes that they say you know what, it didn't end there, it just started there. Where?

Speaker 1:

do I go?

Speaker 2:

to train Now. I think the fruits of our labor are gone.

Speaker 1:

And then, well then, you have all their friends and family who want to get CCW. Exactly, and you know what. You brought up something before by being red. I can tell you right now that red, blue, green, purple, everybody wants a CCW, 100% Everybody 100% these classes nobody care. You go in there and you're going to see like a grandma. You're going to see like a 20 year old kid with pink hair. Jason, it's so diverse.

Speaker 2:

It's ridiculous. I kind of wish like people would see no one wants to get videoed in CCW and we always ask, okay, is everyone uncomfortable before we do? We could really advertise the shit out of it and make probably double our profits, but we kind of keep it like hey, this is your income we got you. Word of mouth is fun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

When I tell you the diversity that walks into this building. Some of it's fun, because they tell you why they're here and some of them are like. Well, in my country, before I became a US citizen, we couldn't own firearms and they were all this turmoil. But here you can, so is that not like the perfect?

Speaker 1:

that's the second amendment.

Speaker 2:

Like you came here because you fled a country that couldn't do that, and now you're here, and now you're exercising that right because you can hold it and it's not just you need.

Speaker 1:

you're finding people that don't look at a firearm as a devil anymore. Right, they look at it as like, okay, it's fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

When you like. That's why I'm so big into telling people to get into shooting sports, because it's like for sure, listen, I'm training just to shoot in time and move, and it's fun. You're competing against other people.

Speaker 2:

So we have, if you haven't noticed when you pulled in, we're wedged in between the gymnastics very, very lucrative gymnastics gym. So it's nothing. But you know, moms in yoga pants all day. And then we're wedged in behind chili. So we have all these moms that when we first opened they were like is this place safe? Are the other bullets going to come through the wall? We had to deal with that.

Speaker 2:

And there is this misconception that the only people that own guns in America are, you know, middle age white guys. And then, if you look at our clientele, it's women, young, old, everything in between, every color of the sun. And I think now we've become palatable to the neighbors. They have no issue with us and in fact some of them have come through for CCW, some of them take training, some of them have done home defense, some of them have done life wire clashes out in one hour. So I think that we're softening the blow. I think that if we had came hard out the gate prior to the opening and really screamed from the rafters that we existed, I think we would have been shut down. But we've caused, we've kind of like slowly, kind of eased into it. I think we become, you know at first we're all those are the gun guys. Now that's Joan Bob. I think we're more self-taught.

Speaker 1:

Like you know, you're sewing classes.

Speaker 2:

I do yeah.

Speaker 1:

Now, that's something that's like me, like I learned to sew when I was a kid. Yeah, and you know, when you're in military you have to sew, because you're always ripping shit button, button, button, these buttons. But anyway, you're always sewing. But what's up in, like the gear man everybody loves gear let's talk sewing man. Let's talk into these different types of classes, not just shooting.

Speaker 2:

If it was, if I could have my way right now, I would just sit this out shop all day. I could sit there and build anything. I love it, so gear. So I came out of that course I was telling you about, I had a rubber band fail on me and it came back and I didn't know how to sew. So I talked, I reached out to somebody who did and I said hey, man, I want to bring this concept to life. And he goes Okay, tell me about it. And I told him. I said it's like a thing to like hold your sling so that it doesn't fall off, like a sling, like a retention device. And he goes oh, that's cool. He's like I don't think it's gonna sell. It sounds like a dumb shit. But yeah, I'll build it for you.

Speaker 2:

So I built the gen one the first one is actually sitting upstairs on show and I built it and I released it and it started to like get a little bit of traction. And then I started doing a little more further outreach. I called units like hey, you want to T&A this? You know, give me feedback. And that feedback led to the gen two, and the gen two led to the gen three, and the gen three is where we made our biggest kind of gains, where we realized it was more than just a sling retention device. We could also use it for holster use. And that's when the kind of the push kind of came out of nowhere. A lot of guys were taking this product. That doesn't change the liability of the holster, because it doesn't change anything on it. So if you have issues, safari land, you just take it, you put it on it doesn't change the screws and it's still within department needs but it's also still covered.

Speaker 2:

It's easy to take on and off. So it started to become very popular in law enforcement. Eventually I start selling to some agencies, to include a local one being a month BD, we have a. We do sell to some of the units there and then it just kind of took off. So for about a good three years the gen three was just like I was just turning them out and then I started building other stuff, not for the purposes of what people asked for, just because I wanted to build stuff myself.

Speaker 2:

I kept saying, man, I have nowhere to like hide these things costs by this, by that, because we have such a unique job with my job, I said I may build these things. So we started with the placard which is a deconfliction piece and it started with the. Then it was the hush rig and it was our IWB patch for cuffs and small radios. Like we just started like kind of staying in our lane. I could build other things but I like the EDC slash, low vis kind of realm because it just makes sense to underrepresented market and if you do build those things I think you have a smaller audience. But also no bins really catering to them, to where, as you know, when you're making chess rigs and play carries and stuff, everybody's doing those and those are. Those are awesome things to make too. But I just like staying in the realm of our shop. So I started selling the gen one pretty much took us to another, you know, took us into the game, and then the gen three is kind of where we're kind of solidified. So I have the gen four is just recently released. The gen three and four is sold globally. So we have customers overseas. I have customers throughout the US. It's been in conflict zones, it's been in videos, it's been on the news. I'll be watching the news like oh, look at that guy getting you know rested. Oh, look, there's an SRC. It's fucking awesome, it's absolutely awesome. The other day with the riots in union square, there was a cop just I mean just wrestling and rolling around and this SRC is getting the shit kicked out of it but it doesn't move. Yeah, marketing opportunity. Let me let everyone know that's my product. So we, you know we do, we have some fun.

Speaker 2:

I get weird requests all the time. People like, hey, can you make me this, can you make me that. So that kind of what led to let's do a social, let's do an open social. So we started doing open. So come on, bring your favorite beer and we'll sit and we'll build shit Like why not? You know, I think there's so many awesome people out there with great ideas, but there's no out for figuring out how do I bring this thing to life. So you come into the shop, you show it to us. Okay, this is the direction I would go. These are the materials I would use. This is how I would get it done. What do you want to do with it? If it's something super cool, guess what? We got you 100%. If it's something that like hey man, this is like a one done, I will tell you.

Speaker 2:

But you never know, I got told I got laughed out of a military chat for offering my src three, I remember. Or I saying, hey, is there any air force? I was in the air force at times, was in the reserves guard rather, and I offered it into this group, which was like senior mentors and all this other shit, and they like left me out of the group and I'm like one guy stepped up and said hey, I know your products, I actually own bubble blah, blah, blah. Hey, that's awesome, my unit would like it. So here I am many years later and all those people were like stupid idea. Really not a stupid idea, it's pretty, pretty lucrative idea, to be honest with you. But that's kind of what we're dealing with. We're dealing with a lot of old.

Speaker 1:

I think most of it's gone but like the older crowd was like you know, that's like you mentioned the 90s and I remember the 90s when people were starting to transition from revolvers to semi-autos and I was like oh, there's no way, you can't. You know it's unreliable.

Speaker 2:

And it's like it's different world.

Speaker 1:

Well, brother, I appreciate you having us up. Yeah, thank you and looking forward to it.

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for coming and thanks for having me protect yourself.

Speaker 2:

Please eat before you leave, because you're still, like I said, you're in the best bottle I need the best bagels. Yeah, you're surrounded by my friend, surrounded by it.

Trinity Training Complex and NYPD Experience
Transition From NYPD to the Fed
Starting Over
Explore and Build New York Training
Self-Taught Sewing and Gear Development
Ideas, Products, and Changing Perceptions