Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, the strong, athletic, artistic, loving, and passionate peacekeeper, Kris Greffard, owner and lead instructor of Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc. Kris is a law enforcement professional in the Province of British Columbia. She has been a police officer for 11 years and is certified through the Justice Institute of British Columbia as a Certified Use of Force Instructor. Kris has a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Health Education through the University of Victoria and has been training in the area of self-protection since 2005. In 2016 Kris and her husband Francois created Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc, a company that specializes in reality based self-protection training. Kris’s husband works for the Canadian Armed Forces and is equally, if not more, trained in this specialty as her. Kris’s highlights as a cop thus far have been working patrol, riding a motor cycle in the traffic section, being a member of the tac team in the crowd management unit, being the first full time female control tactics instructor in her department, and a motor cycle escort rider. Kris is the mother of two amazing children, a son and daughter, who are both under the age of eight. Kris describes her children as a reflection of both her and her husband combined with their own unique quirks and personalities. Kris says that being a mom is one of her greatest accomplishments. As a woman and as a mother she is devoted to encouraging women and girls to be all that they can be, even when they don’t see it within themselves. And to that we say YES!
What makes me a Girl Warrior?
Tough question. I wasn’t born a Girl Warrior. I became one. As a young girl I was the peacekeeper between my parents maturing much faster than other kids my age. I played team sports growing up and with that maturity developed leadership. I became team captain of most of my sport teams. In my early teens I struggled with my weight. I was a total tom boy! I recall being bullied but I was a pretty confident kid and found support through the friends I had made through sports to get me through. I look back and reflect on how important those relationships were to me. These girls, eventually women, were the foundation and the roots of my tribe.
So what makes me a Girl Warrior? My passion for empowering women to see what they are mentally and physically capable of tackling and overcoming. My dedication to educating children on personal safety, developing their intuition and recognizing situational dangers and unsafe situations. My commitment to inspiring young women to be independent, strong, courageous, confident, and fierce.
Personally, a promise to myself to never compromise my own morals and ethics, to never settle for mediocrity and always pursue excellence, and most importantly above all…to be a hero in my child’s eyes.
You’ve been a law enforcement officer for the past 11 years. Why did you choose this path?
I knew I wanted to lead in our community in some way, shape, or form. I wanted to do something that had an impact on changing our society for the good, to help people, and to be a pillar for people to lean on in difficult times. I knew that I could be that person.
Growing up playing team sports I valued team unity. A police department is just that. Like any team, and similar to family, there are some dysfunctional relationships but it is without a doubt when a family member is in need of help their safety is your #1 priority.
I went into this career with eyes wide open. I knew I was physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of excelling in this profession.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
- Being strong in difficult situations. Holding a mom back from her baby girl while paramedics try to revive her. Searching for a missing 8-year-old boy whose backpack was found at a construction site near his school. These are the ones that I get into the car after the dust has settled and I turn white and want to hurl as they hit too close to home.
- Having the public rip you apart in social media after watching a 15 second snip-it video of an incident that took much longer than that to unfold. Police are put in stressful situations and forced to make life-death decisions in a split second on a daily basis. If there is one favor I ask of you is the next time you see a police use of force incident splattered across the news consider that video only captures one perspective of an incident and that police are human too.
- Off duty with Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc.… One of my biggest challenges I have is getting over women’s mindset of “that will never happen to me.” In our Fight Back for Women presentation I start by showing recent media headlines of incidents that have happened locally to show that these incidents do happen in our neighborhoods and to people we know.
How do you juggle family life and career? Can you still have it all?
It’s a gong show but we make it work. My $5.99 staples calendar, highlighters, an amazing au pair, a husband who loves to cook, and balancing priorities is what makes it possible. In order to be me a mom, an instructor, and a cop I have to be physically fit. Hitting the gym on daily basis is a priority for me and, like all my workouts, is scheduled into my calendar like any other appointment. My husband and I have always said that our kids are number one, meaning that no matter how busy our full time jobs are, or programs booked with the company, getting our kids to their activities take priority.
Going back to shift work this past January has been challenging but nothing that black-out blinds and a white noise diffuser can’t help to allow me to sleep when the rest of my house movin’ and shakin’. I do my best not to work on home business scheduling or projects while the kids are awake, which often leads to late nights but we make it work.
How did Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc. come about?
In the summer of 2005 a girlfriend asked me to join her at a “self defense” class instructed by an off duty cop. The program was a 6-month program called “Integrated Street Combatives” (ISC). I had nothing better to do. “Sure” I said having no idea what I was getting myself in to. Little did I know this decision would change the sequence of events in my life drastically. We were two women in a class of twelve guys. I remember being pushed physically to the point I wanted to hurl. The instructor had a dedicated tree outside the studio for that. The instructor called me every foul name in the book and said I was nothing but a useless woman, I had no place in his class, and that he gave me two weeks before I’d quit. What I didn’t know then but learned very quickly was…he didn’t mean any of the things he was saying to me. He wanted to get in my head and see if I would wash myself out. What he and I didn’t know is that 10 years later he would pass along the program to me to carry it on in his footsteps.
In late 2015, at 8 months pregnant with my second child on the way, my mentor and ISC founder said the time had come for me to take over the program (ISC) and go out on my own. Knowing the client base we had developed I didn’t want to lose that and in a 4-week time period my husband and I converted our 2-car garage into a beautiful training studio and created Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc. In that time frame I also gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
My mentor knew I wanted it. I had dedicated countless hours over the years instructing and had continued to develop my CV as a use of force instructor. He knew the programs would be in good hands. I revamped the programs to reflect my teaching style and that from a woman’s point of view. The result, a company that I have great pride in as it reflects everything that I, that we, stand for in our society.
Why was it so important that you carry on the work of your mentor, the “White Hatter”?
Never will there be a day where there is a police officer on every corner, on every trail, in every underground parking lot, or every back alley. Never will there be a day that you will be with your children 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days of the year. Never will police departments have the flexibility to give their members 4 hours a week solely dedicated to developing their communication and physical skills.
I wanted to empower adults to own their personal safety. I strongly believe that if we became a more situational aware society that attacks, thefts, assaults, robberies, etc. would drastically decrease.
Safe KIDS for Kids: Keeping our children Informed, Defensible, and Safer. We enlighten not frighten. The goal behind our youth programs is to develop children’s situational awareness by recognizing dangerous situations and knowing what to do when faced with them. The program develops intuition, confidence, and assertiveness and empowers children with knowledge. Parent attendance is mandatory as the parents learn equally as much, if not more, than the kids.
Lastly, I wanted to facilitate training that allowed officers in protective services a training environment that was safe, reality based, and resembled that of what they would face on the street. This program continues to attract those pursuing careers in those professions as well as civilians looking to improve their fitness, situational awareness, and overall personal safety. This may sound selfish but one of the other reasons I wanted to carry on ISC was to train those I would be working side by side with on the road. Working next to a partner who is confident and competent in their skills and abilities increases my chances of making it home safely to say good night to my babies. Win.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve overcome – personally and professionally?
Personally – Heartbreak and forgiveness. A tough pill to swallow for a confident independent woman.
Professionally – In policing imagine 250 type A personalities trying to get along. I came to the conclusion many years ago that I would not be liked by everyone, a conclusion I am ok with. Regardless of being liked I had to maximize the performance of my colleagues, some of who I did not necessarily see eye to eye with- extremely challenging for a, once called, “triple A” female (still unsure if this was meant as a compliment or an insult). Being a trainer and considering pursuing promotion I wanted to learn new ways of inspiring people to perform and how to connect with people who are of a different personality type. I needed to learn how to connect, inspire, and motivate my introverted colleagues. Yes, there are introverted cops out there. This is a skill I know I have improved upon but still have a lot of room to grow.
Through Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc. being labeled as fear mongering. I hate that. My way of addressing this has not been responding via social media but instead providing my phone number and requesting a conversation with that person to hear their point of view, to dig down and determine what fuels the comment. So far not one keyboard warrior has taken me up on my offer. Shocking.
I am dedicated to personal development and ongoing learning. I am stuck in my car, commuting daily and have taken up listening to audio books. Two books I would recommend around developing mindset and mental toughness are “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins and “An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth” by Chris Hadfield. Both life changing for me.
What do we need to know “for sure” about self-protection?
- Predators capitalize on opportunity utilizing the element of surprise and isolation to their advantage. Remove one of those and you have already decreased your chances of being a target of an attack. Pay attention to what and who is around you at all times. Make eye contact. Yes, it’s just that easy.
- Know what you’re fighting for! What is your motivation to survive? Your will to survive will far outweigh your skill to survive. If you are consumed by everything that you might be losing you’re not focusing on winning. “What’s Important now?” Sign up for Brian Willis’s “Excellence in Training” newsletter. Awesome.
- When you hit something hit it 100% full speed full power. So many women say “but I don’t want to hurt them.” If they want to hurt you why do you care about them? As young women we are taught don’t hit, don’t punch, don’t spit, don’t kick, don’t bite. Why would we teach our daughters not to do these things when it is these exact things that could save their life? That being said, educating our daughters that there is a time and place to use these skills is paramount.
What are your peeves?
- Laziness, excuses, and people who lack accountability. You want something – Go get it! If you’re not successful – Own it and do it again. Never say, “try”. Try opens the door for doubt and failure. If you’re not successful – DO it again, and again, and again. My friends get frustrated with me, as the words “try, fail, and wrong” do not exist in my vocabulary. “Less desirable” yes but not “wrong.”
- Being introduced as “Kris the Cop.” My job does not define me. I am a mom first and foremost. Although not as sexy, it is far more rewarding.
- Being called a “bad ass.” What people don’t know is I am actually a total softy. I cried when my daughter got her ears pierced!
- Poor customer service. Don’t get me started.
- Food remnants left in the bottom of the sink after my husband walks away after doing the dishes. This drives me mental!
What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?
Never take the path of least resistance. It’s the uncomfortable situations that develop character and set you apart as being the uncommon. Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.
I love educating girls to be all that they can be, even when they don’t see it within themselves. I strongly believe that we need to encourage girls at a young age to take pride in who they are, don’t settle, set realistic goals on who they want to become, where they want to go in life, and the steps they are going to take in order to reach those goals. Have a plan and trust your gut!
What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?
Build your tribe at a young age. Encourage each other. Celebrate each other’s successes. So often I hear of girls bullying other girls and cutting each other down. Why? For what purpose? When I educate young girls I will always share my stories of being bullied in school for being a chunky tomboy. I used that as fuel to work harder on the ball field and become stronger on the basketball court. I grew up to be a strong independent woman. I don’t fit the mold of a cop. I have tattoos and, as one prisoner once said, “androgynous hawkish hair.” I am larger in stature and occasionally have the mouth of sailor but I am me and I am proud of who I am.
My goal is to incite change in the culture of young women today – to embrace being different and to celebrate each other’s successes. That’s is okay to be strong – mentally, emotionally, and physically. That it’s okay to speak up and voice your opinion. Most of all… It’s okay to be YOU! Own it!
Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why?
- My mom – the classiest woman I know. She is goal driven and always puts her family first. My mom never missed a game from the time I started playing sports until last year when I retired my baseball cleats. She is soft and sensitive but throws the hardest knee strikes I know for a 73-year-old woman. She has taught me to always take the high road and never settle for anything less than what I deserve.
- My daughter – she laughs at the silliest things and you can’t help but to laugh with her. Looking at the world through the lens of a 3 year old is fascinating as everything is new and exciting. One of my favorite moments is when I get home from the gym, a sweaty hot mess… she looks at me and says “mom, you bootiful.” Melts my heart and makes me realize that no matter what clothes I wear or if my hair and makeup are done… to my daughter… I am “Bootiful”.
- Pink – need I say more? Every time I see her perform it hits my refresh button and I leave on a girl power high! I would love to sit around a fire pit and just shoot the shit with her.
- My students – my last ISC class really opened my eyes to how much they are a part of me. I watched several women in my class open up on their graduation night about what the program (ISC) had given them. I got teary. These women over a 6-month period transformed themselves physically but even more so mentally and emotionally. It opened their eyes to what was possible, what they were capable of, and how strong and mentally tough they could be. It solidified my passion for what I do and why I do it.
- Me – I listened to an awesome motivational speech by Matthew McConaughey once. In this speech he speaks of his hero being himself 10 years down the road and at each milestone his hero continues to be 10 years away and although you may never reach that hero as the bar continues to rise, it gives you someone to chase. I loved it.
Blue Sky it. No boundaries here, just limitless possibilities. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
On Duty: This is the first time that I genuinely don’t have a plan, which is foreign to me. I would like to say driving in a Tahoe with the word “Supervisor” on the back quarter panel but I also feel I would be fulfilled being a constable and field training new recruits and passing on my knowledge and experience to the next generation of police officers.
Off Duty: I love public speaking and would like to do more of it. I want to raise awareness around women’s safety and empowerment and initiate change in the culture of our young women. I would love to travel North America sharing my knowledge and experience with women of all ages. I strongly believe that small changes have a significant impact when it comes to personal safety. I want to empower women to be confident and assertive, both skills that overflow into relationships and career. I have lots more on my to-do list but don’t want to ruin the surprises!
What makes you laugh uncontrollably?
- My children laughing…uncontrollably, often at each other’s or their parent’s expense.
- Sharing stories with my closest brothers and sisters on the patio by the fire with a beer and a wine tipped cigar (my guilty sin). For example, my girlfriend working solo transporting a sea gull with a broken wing to the emergency vet hospital. She put it in a shoe box in the front seat of her cruiser. It escaped from the shoe box and began flapping around inside the car. I may have peed a little when she was telling the story as she is quite animated and between her gestures, sound effects, and reenacting folks’ expressions when she was stopped at intersections was priceless.
What makes you cry it out in tears?
Listening to my friends face heartbreak, death/illness of loved ones, or the loss of a child. Being a police officer you do this day in day out with people you have never met before but when it hits close to home with the people you love and cherish it’s different. You realize that the only guarantee you have in life is the present moment and to make the absolute best of it.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
I have nothing. I am a strong believer that everything in life happens for a reason. I have always done my best to trust my gut and it has yet to fail me. For the hurdles I have had to overcome personally and professionally I don’t consider them disappointments, as they are life experiences I conquered to bring me where I am today, to be answering the questions in this interview.
What has been your biggest triumph?
- Getting hired wasn’t easy. That took a lot of work – volunteer hours, work experience, etc.
- Completing the 2-week police motorcycle course. I had my ass handed to me and came home beaten and bruised daily. Picking up a 900 lb. machine repeatedly was exhausting but I overcame, as the thought of failing was not an option.
- Being a female control tactics instructor in a male dominated specialty. Surprising enough it was not the men I faced conflict with; it was the women. I had to learn early on that it was impossible to be in a supervisory role and be friends with everyone. Personally, as an instructor, my biggest hurdle to overcome was to focus on those that you have an impact on and not get hung up on those that resist. I learned that when you focus on those that resist it eats you alive and takes away from the energy you put towards those that are listening and learning. Google the rule of “15-70-15”. Keep in mind that this is referring to adult professional development and not my approach to instructing youth.
- Being my own boss. I love that. I love the feeling of being successful and it being the result of the hard work I, and my husband, have put in. I thrive on that. I love being challenged, being put on the spot, told that I can’t do something, and then just knocking it out of the park.
- Being a mom. My 7-year-old son recently jumped from the 10-foot diving board into the pool while we were swimming. You’re probably thinking, no big deal, right? HUGE DEAL for two parents who have been working on our son’s confidence and to overcome his fears. I was so proud of him!
What’s your personal t-shirt message?
Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.
Never settle for mediocrity. Forever pursue excellence.
Love what you do and it will never feel like work.
You can learn more about Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc. at: www.sheepdogselfprotection.com
Follow Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc. on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/sheepdogselfprotectioninc/
Follow Sheepdog Self-Protection Inc. on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/sheepdogselfprotectioninc/