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Stories: Legal and Law Enforcement
Collective Resonance at Gunpoint

Interview with Ginger Charles, Police Sergeant, Arvada, CO

In February, 2000, Police Sergeant Ginger Charles had an extraordinary experience of collective resonance in the course of responding to a volatile situation. She has graciously agreed to share her experience with Renee Levi in this interview.


RAL: Renee Levi
GC: Sgt. Ginger Charles

RAL: Can you tell me about the experience of collective resonance you had?

GC: Alright. I was actually stopped. I had just picked up a cup of coffee and so I was parked in a parking lot in what we call our older section of town. We got a call, and it was interesting, the call came in at 9:11. It was an emergency call where supposedly there was a large fight going on outside of an apartment complex. I happened to be really, really close to the area. So I responded. I was the first officer on the scene, and as I pulled into the driveway of this apartment complex, the count-what they call "toning it out", meaning it's a dire emergency call, because the dispatcher said be advised that somebody had been stabbed. So now I know that it's not just a fight, that it's somebody who's been seriously injured as well.

So as I continued into the parking lot, I went to the very edge of the parking lot, and behind the parking lot is a fence, with dirt piles, and there was this large, bronze colored Ford Expedition and in the Expedition I can see two males. The vehicle was actually facing me and it was parked. There were two males inside the car in the front passenger seat and the driver's seat and then on the vehicle itself-hanging on the vehicle-were at least four additional males beating on the two males inside the car. And there were two women kind of running around the outside of the car. So that's one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and then I think a couple of other males just kind of hanging in the parking lot, walking around.

So as I pulled up. I jumped out of the car and I ordered everybody out. One of the males ran to my left, back into the apartment complex. So really this is a very, very poor tactical position. There were seven left at that point. They were getting out of the vehicle, and I was ordering them down on the ground. I had my gun drawn and I was pointing it at this large group. Five of them immediately got down on their knees with their hands in the air. But there were two males who kept approaching me. And as they approached me, I kept yelling at them, "Get down on the ground, get down on the ground." And then the people behind them were yelling, "Listen to her, get down on the ground. She's gonna-excuse my language-she's gonna fuckin' shoot you. Get down on the ground." And these males continued to stalk. So now they're probably, maybe twenty-one, twenty-five feet from me. And they're either side of me so, again, a very, very tactically poor positioning for an officer.

So I started to go through this particular process with them of screaming, waving my gun from one suspect to the other suspect and then the five in the background behind them. It was very interesting listening. I mean I could actually hear the people in the background saying, "She's gonna shoot you, just listen to her, get down on the ground." And the two males-I could hear the separate voices of each of them going, "You're not gonna fuckin' shoot me" and me saying to them, "I'm gonna fuckin' kill you, get on the ground. Do it now." And while those three separate conversations were going on, I was actually processing which one I could shoot first and where that bullet would go once it exited past his body, and that I had a safe backstop in which to kill him.

So at that point I have two men walking toward me, now closing the gap at about fifteen feet, and I still don't have a backup because they're far enough away. And I know I've got what they call a "good shoot." This is a very, very good shoot. I would be justified in killing these two individuals. But I had this experience. During the experience I lost track of time. I completely lost track of any awareness outside of what was going on in this situation. It was almost like being inside of this really strange bubble with these particular seven individuals in this situation. And I was very, very aware that we were all making this really interesting choice together. And I knew that it was like this fragile gift, kind of like an open hand being given to each of us that we could crush or we could destroy at that moment. And someone could make one wrong move and it would be done. And it would be a deadly situation. Either for myself or for the two males or anybody on the ground at that point.

So, as I continued to give commands, what immediately then flashed was the word "preclusion." I mean, I could actually see it written in (chuckle) white in this black cloud-meaning "Did I exhaust every other available tool prior to using this weapon?" even though I had a justified shoot. And I pulled out my pepper spray and held it underneath the gun and it was like, at that point-this fragile gift-the males took the gift and immediately dropped on the ground and said, "Don't fuckin' mace me. Don't mace me, don't mace me." And at that point the bubble around us burst and my backup arrived on scene and we continued to keep them on the ground, and then, as I turned around, when I turned around the second time, almost the entire day shift was behind me, like this huge wall of blue was behind me. We took custody of all these individuals and sorted through the mess and ended up arresting probably just three of them out of the whole thing.

RAL: (long breath).

GC: Is that what you wanted?

RAL: Wow. (long pause).

RAL: I'm so fascinated by the bubble. Can you describe more about that?

GC: I guess the easiest way to describe it would be to say that it was an experience of tunnel vision, like in a heightened state of stress, you're going to lose that peripheral vision around you. But it seemed like it was much clearer than that, like the bubble was just like this little microcosm of a universe, a totally separate universe from anything in that apartment complex. Because if you think about it, what I had going on behind me was a suspect in the apartment that overlooked exactly where we were at, so had that person had a gun, you know, it would have been deadly. I had witnesses watching this whole thing as well, so nobody was interfering, which was a really unusual situation. It was a very, very condensed experience for just the seven of us. It reminds me of the Wizard of Oz when the Witch of the North comes in-that kind of bubble-it was all-inclusive. We were all inside that bubble working on this particular situation, experiencing it together. And then the bubble broke and, of course, that's when the other officers got on scene that, of course, changes the flavor of everything I think (chuckle)...when you get others in the soup.

RAL: Is that one of the reasons for the bubble breaking?

GC: I'm sure it was. I'm sure it was. It was an experience that was just shared by me and those seven people and then when we had somebody else come in with maybe a different mind thought, or maybe not thinking in the same direction. I was very aware that I was really not frightened. So maybe they weren't, too, because most of them were very intoxicated. So that might be a reason as well. And the other-it was almost like G-d handing us this gift and saying, "This one is for you eight to work through. This is your gift to work through this period of transcendence together." And it ended where I actually had two of the males come up to me once the situation had died down and we had not arrested them, they came up and said, "Thank you for not killing me."

RAL: Wow.

GC: Individually. And then I was able to say, "You're welcome."

RAL: They were intoxicated Ginger?

GC: Yeah, yeah.

RAL: A lot?

GC: Two were. The rest of them had been drinking and probably, I would say, were intoxicated.

RAL: The two you were waving at?

GC: One that was charging me was, yes, he was intoxicated and the other one was not. He'd actually been arrested for murder in Denver or had been charged with murder in Denver three months prior and I had no idea why he was out on the street. We had no warrant for his arrest.

RAL: Which, of course, you didn't know at the time.

GC: No, uh-uh.

RAL: So, the bubble tended to break, perhaps, because of the other people coming in and their thought patterns, possibly fear, coming in where it really wasn't there before?

GC: Right, exactly.

RAL: What made you take out the pepper spray? It seems to me the pepper spray had something to do with it.

GC: Something to do with bubble-breaking? Or something to do with resolution?

RAL: With the shift. You said you took out the pepper spray, which I can't even imagine because you've got the gun in your hands, right? You got all these people aligned, bad tactical position, but you take out the pepper spray.

GC: Right, right. I don't know if they had a sense that they knew that I wouldn't shoot them-which they were very wrong about because I had the trigger halfway back-and it was more realistic when I pulled the pepper spray out because as officers we're freer with that. I'm not sure, but when I pulled the pepper spray out, I guess that was a little more realistic. Or maybe the gun was just not something that they were-you can threaten to shoot somebody, as a gang member, as a police officer, whatever, but to actually do the act. that's the ultimate act. And so they probably had been pepper-sprayed or had been around that and maybe that was more real. But it was (chuckle) such an illogical reaction.

RAL: Yeah, a gun versus pepper spray and then they get afraid of the pepper spray, right?

GC: Yeah. I actually felt like-I should say felt and relieved-that it was probably more the word preclusion coming up in my mind. It was almost like someone saying, "Make sure you've exhausted everything before you use the gun. Even though you're justified, make sure that you have gone through every particular step-in other words, voice command, defensive tactics, you know, hands-on, which of course you're not going to use on that, baton, anything like that-that exhaust anything prior to going to the gun. And that was one option (pepper spray) that I had not reasoned through yet, so I pulled that out.

RAL: Do you remember when you decided to pull it out? Do you remember why? Was it a rational thought like you just described? Where did that come to you from? Again, I'm imagining you being in this timeless state, right? So you're suspended in a certain way. And yet the idea for the pepper spray comes up? Did it come from a linear process, a rational process, or did it come as an insight or a sort of message?

GC: It was definitely a message. It was not, "okay I've exhausted this, I've exhausted this" It was almost like all of a sudden you're blind, but the only thing you see is this white word "preclusion." And the recognition of pepper spray on your belt. So it was not linear thinking at all. It certainly could be rationalized away by a police officer as linear thinking, but it was not.

RAL: It's interesting that you remember the coloring. The white letters and the...

GC: Yeah, black and white.

RAL: In a cloud? Did you say cloud?

GC: It was like on a black chalkboard. That preclusion written in white chalk or something.

RAL: I wonder, is that how you had first learned about it?

GC: Preclusion?

RAL: Well, I'm thinking the white chalk on the blackboard. Was that how you first were trained? Was it on a chalkboard?

GC: No, it was not, actually. It was actually a white board with a black magic marker.

RAL: You remember that?

GC: Yeah, it was a long time ago. It was 1992. It was probably one of the most powerful experiences ever in my career, in recognizing the oneness of what I was doing.

RAL: Recognizing the oneness of what you were doing?

GC: In my job, in my calling. There's really no separation (chuckle) between me and them. I have, right now describing it to you, I have what we call an "adrenaline dump" where there's so much adrenaline surging through you're shaking.

RAL: Are you now?

GC: Yeah.

RAL: What are you feeling right now?

GC: Excited, very excited. Like, well, I could go out and run, you know, an easy five miles.

RAL: Do you remember, Ginger, what you felt like in that bubble moment, in those few moments. Do you remember physically any sensations in your body or your self?

GC: Tingling. All over, energized. It's one of those special times when you know you are in the moment. If you're not, you're dead. And, strangely, very much at peace. Sometimes you can go on a call and you can be so incredibly tense that you'll feel exhausted-like searching a building, sometimes searching a building can be exhausting because you're holding yourself in such a rigid, gun-at-attention type stance that is very, very difficult to maintain and you're exhausted. This was energizing. This was one where, you feel "gosh I'm not gonna sleep for a day, a full day." So it feels like you're having this huge information dump right through the seventh chakra.

RAL: Talk about that.

GC: I guess it would be just back to that bubble experience and feeling like each, every one of them, was getting the same kind of energy too, but whatever they were feeling, which I certainly don't know, certainly could have been either dampened or ignored with the alcohol, drugs on board, or fear or stress, or whatever they were feeling. But if I have to look back at it now and describe the bubble it certainly feels like everybody kind of opening up that energy port on the top of their heads, and this wonderful light going inside each one of our heads.

RAL: So you really think, in some way, although you'll never be able to prove it, that they were informed of your decision, kind of thing?

GC: I think they were part of the decision.

RAL: Okay.

GC: They were literally between-they had to have been-they were less than ten feet by the time that I got the mace, or the pepper spray, out and told them I was gonna spray them, and that is really close. I mean, when we train, usually the closest is twenty-one feet, and then-especially with somebody who is armed with a knife-that's certainly where you want to shoot them. So I had let these folks come in to ten feet and knew that there was this invisible barrier. Had they come any closer, and I can't tell you how close that would have been, I would have shot them without any hesitation whatsoever. And I would have considered that an agreement between that person and me. In other words, I can't kill that person unless he agrees that I'm gonna kill him. So that agreement is, he decides, "Oh, she's bringing the mace out. I agree to get down on the ground." So, that's what I'm saying. It wasn't my decision, it was our decision as a group that they were going to comply. Does that make sense?

RAL: It does make sense. I'm just curious. You also said that it was like white light was coming in from all of our seventh chakras.

GC: Right.

RAL: Not just yours.

GC: Exactly.

RAL: So, your sense is, again, while you couldn't ever prove it, that they were receiving. Yes, it was your collective choice, so that's the you and them stuff, but it sounds to me, and I might be wrong, I'm just putting it out there, that there might have been another source of information coming in.

GC: Oh! Oh! Yeah, I would say from, I guess, mass consciousness or the universal consciousness, or whatever, that I guess I would consider all of us a part of. That information coming from a higher source. So, yeah.

RAL: So you really think so. I have chills because I'm imagining when you said ten feet, and I didn't focus on that before, but you said ten feet and I'm sitting here in my office and I'm imagining ten feet. That's really close.

GC: It's very close. When you consider that you have a gun out and that they are both forty-five degrees from your shoulder. One on one side, one on the other. How easy would it have been for that one individual to grab me and then I shoot one but the other gets me and shoots me? Really, its a horribly poor tactical position and yet one that I think most officers find themselves in many, many times. And, through the grace of G-d, its resolved. Or, sometimes not.

RAL: So, other than tingling all over, energized, being in the moment, and kind of strange sense of peace, do you recall at all, in your own body, any particular areas that come to you at this point. You know, parts of your body.

GC: A real lightness in my chest, but the tingling in the arms and the feet, which I've been told before, you know, that's when you know you're really walking your path. When your arms and your legs are tingling, that's when you're truly walking where you need to walk. And that was definitely the case. That was probably the most amazing sense of awe and wonder about, okay, I'm starting to get it-why this is so important to do law enforcement this way.

RAL: So lightness in your chest and tingling in arms and feet. Okay. Were you aware of any color other than the preclusion sign, and did you describe the bubble as pink?

GC: No, uh-huh.

RAL: Okay. Was there any color involved at all?

GC: The light, uh, in the seventh chakra was certainly a golden color. The bubble was certainly a whiter, I guess a real clear light. You know, I guess it was just like-I don't know how to describe it-I guess, sharp. Everything was very, very sharp. Nothing was dull or frayed at all. It was very sunny, the sky was really blue. It was February, so of course that winter blue sky. And no snow on the ground. I had no sensation as far as temperature. As far as it being really cold or really hot.

RAL: What shifted in the group and do you remember any precipitating events, actions, or happenings

GC: While the seven of them and I were in the situation, what shifted in the group was kind of this back and forth from behind them as well in front of them, kind of this shift of them taking what I consider the better choice of living another day. So that was a shift. In other words, the two of them shifted to the rest of the group, myself as well as the five that were on the ground.

RAL: Say that again, the two of them?

GC: The two of them, the two suspects that were coming at me, shifted their thought processes or their consciousness, to the rest of the group, the more positive outcome of the rest of the group, which is myself and the other five.

RAL: Ah, okay, of the rest of us. So even you, huh? I guess, because they really kind of made the decision, or they precipitated the shift that made the outcome. Yes?

GC: Yes.

RAL: Okay.

GC: The group shifted again when the other officers arrived. I mean that includes me too because now I have this really funny-you know I haven't had a chance to analyze this experience that I've gone through, knowing that it was significant, and feeling kind of strange about it and yet having the role that usually is imposed on me by my being a police officer. The experience that I had with these other seven individuals was similar to when you witness somebody giving birth or when you witness somebody dying. It was that kind of significance. You feel like you're really blessed to be with that particular person or persons when this is happening. So then, when the other officers showed up and that bubble kind of breaks, there's obviously that negative power that comes in between, the us-versus-them thought process that officers in a group can usually carry. And so then I'm in this really strange place of "where actually do I fit?" I actually am in the blue suit too, so I should be over here, and yet I've just experienced this really intimate connection with these seven over here, knowing that they're human beings and the blue suits over here are not seeing them as human beings. They're seeing them as suspects. So, it was almost an uncomfortable spot to be in to stand there with two other officers when the two suspects came over and apologized and said, "Thank you for not killing me." I would have probably been a little bit freer with my emotions but all I said was, "You're welcome." I probably would have gone into much more detail with them, or maybe would have solicited more information but couldn't because I had my fellow officers there.

RAL: I completely understand that. So, do you feel like that often? This is just an aside question but that question of fit, is that sort of an ongoing question for you that you hold?

GC: It's more of a confirmation, that I would say, "Ginger, just remember that you do not fit the typical mold in this profession." I think what I'm here to do is to show another way to do the profession. And it's not going to be well-received.

RAL: Well-received by whom?

GC: By other officers.

RAL: Yeah, that's true, but the rest of the world. it's going to be very well received. And that's the purpose.

GC: Right. And there certainly could be a larger group than I'm aware of that will receive it very well, or maybe are feeling the same thing that I felt at that time too when I'm not sure where I fit in.

RAL: You said something really early on that I want to bring up one more time, which is the voices. You talked about these three conversations going on. That there were the people on the ground, that there were these two voices and then there's the voice in your head, right? Did that have anything to do with shift?

GC: It was certainly part of it. It was, I guess, just paying attention. It's interesting, when you go back and look at any kind of critical incident you think about all the different parts that go on. I mean, I questioned, really questioned, for, I would say, for a good month, "Why didn't I shoot these guys?" I had every reason to shoot them, why didn't I shoot them? Especially when I found out their history. And, of course the answer for me is, is that we didn't have an agreement to do that, number one, and number two, there was something far more valuable for me to pick out of there, and hopefully f

(Link to Profile for Ginger Charles)

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