Dan Flippo

Dan is passionate about training and developing both others and himself to be better within the field of law enforcement.  Dan retired in September 2020 after serving the Santa Cruz Police Department for over 29 years. He started his career in March of 1991 as a Reserve Police office at the age of 20. He was hired as a Police Officer six months later and shortly after his 21st birthday.  He finished his career as the Deputy Chief of Operations where he oversaw all of the uniformed staff within his agency.

“Leadership and decision-making, that’s what our training courses are about.” says Dan Flippo. Dan is the retired Deputy Chief of the Santa Cruz Police Department in California and now serves as a Senior Instructor with the Savage Training Group, a professional law enforcement training organization. Dan teaches courses that help officers and supervisors develop their ability to make good decisions in a crisis. In this clip, Dan discusses why on scene incident leadership is a necessity and what happens when it is absent.

Early on in his career, he recognized a need for better training and the need to improve the departments and his own abilities to handle critical incidents and encounters with dangerous individuals.  Santa Cruz is a medium sized agency with about 100 sworn officers but is a busy city with gang violence, high drug related crime, homelessness, and mental illness.  The busy nature of the city exposed him to numerous in-progress crimes and critical incidents.  He served as an officer, motor officer, and as a Field Training Officer early in his career.  It was working as a detective that he solidified his resolve to change the tactical decision making and officer safety training within his department. There had been several encounters and search warrants where he recognized that had the suspect taken on the officers, serious injury or death would occur.  There had to be a better way of doing business.

He was a Firearm’s and Defensive Tactics Instructor at this time but recognized that the department needed more dynamic, stress inducing, and scenario-based training.  He became a consummate student who began to train with others in the industry that were far more skilled and experienced.  He developed relationships and trained with San Jose Merge (SWAT), LAPD SWAT, and LASO SEB.  Along the way, he developed mentors who helped expose him to better tactics, planning, and critical decision-making. Dan was handpicked to be an instructor for the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and spent years doing so before retiring from that position in 2024 so he could focus on managing our critical incident response programs.

Dan was also one of the developers and founding members of his departments tactical team.  One of his proudest accomplishments has been the creation of this team, from nothing to an 18 person functioning and professional team.  He served on the team for over 12 years.  His experience and exposure to real-world incidents have provided a depth of knowledge that will help the course students to develop stronger tactics, critical decision-making, prioritization of roles during events, and the ability to formulate plans to resolve high-risk encounters.

Within his last few months of service, Dan was in charge of multiple critical incidents within his city and outlying jurisdictions.  Dan dealt with a hostage situation involving an infant, multiple protests, his departments response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and was the incident commander during a tragic and horrific officer involved shooting where hundreds of law enforcement officers responded to the scene.  These experiences provide the students with real-life lessons learned. Not war stories, but practical discussions with humility of the challenges and what worked and what didn’t.  Dan looks forward to facilitating great discussions and learning moments within his classroom, and always learns something himself along the way.

Dan teaches a variety of courses for the Savage Training Group including Critical Incident Response, Command of Multijurisdictional Incidents, and Practical De-Escalation and Tactical Conduct. In 2024, Dan was promoted to the position of Operations Manager with the Savage Training Group. He oversees the onboarding of new instructors, working with hosting agencies, and ensuring courses are delivered at the professional level we have become known for.

Dan is an instructor for the following courses:

Critical Incident Response
Command of Multijurisdictional Incidents
Practical De-Escalation and Tactical Conduct

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