Dave Gets It

I am blessed to get to meet a lot of really cool people as I travel the globe in my work. One of those people is Dave Friedberg, who has an awesome house that survived the recent hurricanes in Tampa, Fla. Dave also has a really neat fishing boat and an even more impressive lift system to get it in and out of the water. Dave is not only a client, but has become a fishing buddy. Well, actually, Dave is more of a boating buddy, as neither of us has managed to catch any fish on our two fishing trips together. This may be due to our interesting discussions of topics ranging from school safety to investment properties, our lack of skill as anglers or a combination of the two.

Dave is the director of Safety and Security for Hillsborough County (Florida) Schools. Prior to his appointment to this position, Dave protected us all while serving as an officer in the United States Air Force. When he retired in 1993, Dave was appointed as the director for Hillsborough County Schools in Tampa. The tenth largest school district in the country, Hillsborough County Schools are located in a major metropolitan area, and like other large districts, face safety and security concerns. With an extensive background in military security and law enforcement assignments around the world, Dave quickly set about the business of building a variety of new safety programs in the district, including what is likely the nation’s first safe schools plan in accordance with the new United States Department of Education model. Dave also has a great sense of humor, which is why I can poke a little fun at him in this month’s column with little fear of retaliatory litigation or physical attack.

Writing columns for six magazines, averaging three books and dozens of feature articles each year, I find myself constantly trying to come up with new topics to keep from boring my readers to death. I write most of my columns in one of two places, while flying from job to job or while deer hunting. Both of these activities afford an opportunity to reflect. On a recent flight, I was contemplating a school administrator who is dangerously in denial, when I found myself thinking,“Dave really gets it.” It truly struck me that Dave really does have a good handle on risk and how to address it, and that he never stops trying to shore up his district’s safety programs.

Dave is constantly“whatiffing” his school safety plans, his district’s safety procedures and, basically, everything and anything that he, his staff and his district do to make school a safer place for kids and their teachers. Dave also understands that no matter how hard he works, very bad things may still happen, and he prepares his district tirelessly to meet the challenges of the day he hopes never comes. Unlike far too many in the field of education, Dave does not have to be convinced that the price of safety and peace is continual vigilance. Dave will never have to witness the death of a child or a group of children to understand the full impact of his responsibilities as his district’s point man for safety. Dave really does get it.

Dave was kind enough to send me a brief bio to help me pen this column. When I finished reading it, I called him and told him that I was rather disturbed about what appeared to be blatant fabrication of credentials. You see, Dave knows that one of my pet peeves is the common practice of school safety experts who falsify their credentials. In Dave’s case, his bio ends with the sentence “And most of all, Chief Friedberg likes to think of himself as a fisherman.” In fairness, when I confronted Dave with this seeming untruth, he pointed out that he does not say “good” fisherman. Dave is not only a great guy and an excellent boat skipper, but Dave “gets it” when it comes to safety. It is indeed an honor for me to be able to call him friend. Since I am not much of a threat to white tailed deer when I take to the woods each fall, I guess I can’t hold it against him that he is an angling-impaired boat skipper. After all, how can you help but like and respect a guy who cares so much about kids?