October 19, 2019

Security for the Sanctity of Life

A local Krav Maga master readies schools and churches for worst-case scenarios
By Craig Manning | March 31, 2018

“I’m always armed. Sometimes I carry a weapon.”

That saying has become something of a motto for Colby Taylor, a local Krav Maga black belt and founder of Covenant Defense, a faith-based security organization in Traverse City. The company — which offers consulting, self-defense training, firearms training, and the like — does work with businesses and even families, but Taylor says the focus is on a niche typically left underserved by the professional security market: churches and schools.

That factor makes what Covenant Defense does particularly timely given the current political climate. The past year has seen violent tragedies on both fronts. A Nov. 5 shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, resulted in 26 deaths. On Valentine’s Day, a teenage gunman brought an AR-15 into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17.  

It was, in fact, a school shooting that prompted Taylor ( to pursue a career in security and defense. Shortly after moving to Traverse City to become a youth minister in 2000, Taylor saw a presentation given by Darrell Scott, the father of a Columbine shooting victim. Taylor’s deep religious faith and his passion for helping young adults made him feel connected to the victims of that tragedy, even though he’d never met them personally. Slowly, he began sifting through what he calls the “pieces of the puzzle,” trying to figure out a solution to the problem of violence in schools.

That path led to Covenant Defense. The business opened in 2013, with a focus on schools and churches and a faith-driven mindset that was decidedly different from other security companies. Citing security risks and client privilege, Taylor will not reveal the names of any schools, churches, or organizations with which he has consulted.

“We do what we do because we believe life is a gift from God, and it’s something that should be protected,” he said. “We are doing what we do, not because we like violence, not because we want to shoot bad guys, not because we’re interested in trying to dominate over a human being and make ourselves feel validated and powerful. We do what we do because we want to protect the innocence of children, so they can go to school and learn — so people can go to church, and worship as freely as they want to worship." 

Taylor says that security, in many cases, is driven by ego. From private security contractors to security guards in schools, he thinks many of the people working in his industry are “tough guys who get a charge from the adrenaline rush of combat.” He starts every seminar by talking about faith — not to proselytize, he’s quick to point out — but to be transparent about the core mission of Covenant Defense: protecting the sanctity of life.

“If ego is part of the motivation [for a protector], we try to help them out of that,” Taylor said. “Because ego means you are going to make decisions based on you: what makes you look good, what keeps you from being afraid. And that’s not what you’re there to do. You’re there to protect the people.”

This focus on mindset and motivation is at the core of what Covenant Defense does. By eliminating the “action hero” delusion, Taylor prepares his trainees to make smarter, safer, and more sensible decisions in dangerous situations.

Taylor’s expertise is grounded in Israeli methods, which he describes as the best in the world for security and defense applications. He did his Krav Maga training in Israel, with the founder of Israeli Krav International. He also underwent extensive training in counterterrorism, VIP protection, and close-quarters shooting. He brings those skills to Covenant Defense, teaching everything from counterattacks to defensive firearm tactics.

In Taylor’s view, equipping people in schools, churches, and other vulnerable spaces with these skills is vital to preventing the next wave of shootings and attacks. His courses, seminars, and training programs focus on helping protectors identify threats and respond to a variety of security situations: What are the tells or threat indicators that might give an attacker away? How can you confront and interview a potential threat to reveal motives? What do you do if the person goes for a gun or tries to hit you? Covenant Defense’s training model is designed to answer these questions.

Especially in schools and churches, where attackers have large numbers of potential victims, Taylor says it’s important to have someone with these skills who can engage the threat immediately. The common model for dealing with an active shooter is “Run, hide, fight.” In other words, initiate lockdown protocol, call the police, and hope for a quick response time. Taylor’s question is “How much damage can an attacker do before the police get there?” In most cases, the answer is simple: too much.

As shootings become more common, more schools and churches are starting to see the need for extra on-site defense capabilities. Many, said Taylor, are trying to solve the issue in the simplest, cheapest way. Often, that means “throwing guns at the problem,” whether in the form of armed security guards or individuals with CPLs (concealed pistol licenses).

“Simply giving guns to people and saying, ‘You’re good’ is ludicrous,” Taylor said. “Simply putting a church security team together based on who has CPLs, and that’s their only training, is a recipe for disaster. To handle a situation in a crowded environment with a gun, when you don’t understand how you need to use that tool to protect life, is only going to make things worse.”

Covenant Defense, Taylor says, is not anti-gun. The company does provide firearm training as part of its security programs. Taylor also doesn’t believe that gun laws and restrictions are going to solve the problem, which he thinks is rooted in human behavior rather than easy access to firearms.

What Covenant Defense does do is try to get protectors to the point where they can adopt Taylor’s “I’m always armed” motto. In fact, the company won’t even offer firearm training until after an organization has gone through at least 20 hours of training on how to address threats and solve problems without guns. The key, Taylor says, is making sure that a gun isn’t the only tool in someone’s toolbox if or when a threat arises.

In addition to security consulting and training for schools, churches, and business, Covenant Defense offers monthly seminars, standalone training courses, human trafficking and sexual assault prevention presentations, and other events that are open to anyone. You can learn more at covenantdefense.com.

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