Riots Minneapolis
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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By Waysun Johnny Tsai

Early this year I was introduced to a company that focuses on executive protection and guard services. The interesting part is that they are based in St. Paul, Minnesota and do a lot of work in and around the city of Minneapolis. We all know what the climate around there is and has been like.

I figured any company that would name itself after JomsVikings is probably worth a look. I ran into these Vikings during a recent Controlled F.O.R.C.E. critical response and active threat environment class given in San Antonio, and they kicked all types of ass. So much so that I decided to take a closer look at the company.

I talked to one of the lead Vikings at JomsVikings, Gary Essig about who there are and what they do in some very challenging environments and situations . . .

TTAG: Vikings Huh? Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us why anyone should listen to what you have to say. 

JomsVikings: My name is Gary Essig. I am the Operations Manager at JomsVikings and I am not convinced that ANYONE should listen to us. But if they do, it has to do with the level of combined and diverse experience in the security industry we possess. We have assembled some key people, with key backgrounds, to develop the best product available in our marketplace. 

TTAG: What are your backgrounds? Military? Law Enforcement? Executive protection? 

JomsVikings: Our company is comprised of former military operators and former law enforcement professionals and a strong presence of private and corporate security professionals.

I worked as a corrections officer for a state agency. I participated in multiple specialized teams that included the SORT Team, security squad, prisoner transportation, etc. Then I realized that a thirty-year career would equate to spending about ten years in prison. No bueno.

After a few years in the corporate world, I realized that I really wanted to operate in the protection field. I got involved with volunteer teams, put myself through a globally recognized EP School, and started grinding. It’s been a challenging yet rewarding career. 

TTAG: JomsVikings hasn’t been around that long, about two years, right? What made you throw your hats into the security arena in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area?

JomsVikings:  The security industry landscape in the Twin Cities has been a mixed bag. The owner of JomsVikings, Mike MacDonald, recognized that there were no standards and many clients were stuck with sub-par service. Training was almost non-existent, and nobody was doing anything about it.

He decided to do something and JomsVikings was created. His drive and dedication was to carve out a company based on integrity, honor, character, and excellence. 

TTAG: What or how involved were you involved with the city during the riots?

JomsVikings:  JomsVikings was formed right at the flashpoint of the George Floyd debacle. News crews needed to be able to safely navigate the riots, the protests, and the general chaos. Our team was instrumental in the safe completion of those duties.

In the first 15 months of the company’s existence, we logged over 20,000 hours on the ground with local and national news crews, all without ONE failure. That’s an amazing feat when you think about how volatile the situation was at the height of it all. And we are still servicing those news outlets today. 

TTAG: Let’s talk about how Minneapolis defunded its police department. How many police
officers were there before compared to now?

JomsVikings:  What has happened to the law enforcement community in the Twin Cities is an absolute shame. The results are proving that fact. Violent crime, carjackings and murders are all on track for record highs this year. And there seems to be no end in sight.

While numbers would vary, based on who you talk with, the Minneapolis PD was over nine hundred strong in 2018. My sources tell me that they are well under 600 at this point. That’s partially the result of the “defunding” effort.

But even worse, the constant attacks on LE has caused many to decide on other careers. Workforce and morale among the existing LE community is still deteriorating, and many more officers that I know personally are preparing to exit the field. It’s a mass exodus of some incredibly talented people.

TTAG: How does that affect you and your company? 

JomsVikings:  Obviously, we are not able to “police” our community. That takes a certain level of authority and different skill sets. However, the public will still need solutions to help keep them safe. That’s where competent private security professionals increasingly come in.

Many duties that LE would handle in the past are now being addressed by private security companies. And we are certainly training and preparing for the ever-changing landscape. Private companies, event venues, churches, schools, and many municipalities are starting to see value in what we bring to the equation and are calling on us for things that once were only addressed by off-duty LE officers. 

TTAG:  What services do you offer?

JomsVikings:  As a full-service protection agency, we focus on a few main categories like executive protection, school security, media protection in less-permissive environments,  workplace violence and labor disputes. We also manage residential security and secure transportation in our EP apparatus. 

TTAG:  Your team recently attended an active shooter training course in San Antonio with Controlled F.O.R.C.E. What did you think of the class?

JomsVikings:  Most of us have children or grandchildren in schools. As such, we’re concerned that the current process used to keep them safe is lacking in some areas. That’s not an editorial on all programs, but the results of the Uvalde catastrophe proves the point.

When we partnered with Controlled F.O.R.C.E., we knew we were connecting with the best opportunity to effect change in this arena. And when we were invited to participate in the training, we were all in.

The training was challenging; physically, mentally, emotionally, and tactically. But challenges are what make you better. The instructors were some of the most professional and enthusiastic I have trained with. They knew what they were trying to get out of you, and they did exactly that.

It was also evident that they were teaching from experience, and not just from head-knowledge. They were surgical in their demonstrations and expected nothing less from us. 

TTAG: It was their C.R.A.T.E. (critical response in an active threat
environment) course. Why was that important enough to fly across the country to attend?

JomsVikings:  We are making a huge push to effect change in the school security arena. The unfortunate part is that there’s a plethora of “great pretenders” out there. We are not willing to be that.

If we’re called upon to protect schools, we want to be fully prepared in a tactical sense. The mindset of, “It’s time to put it all on the line” isn’t a reach for us, especially when innocent children’s lives are at stake. If we are going to be successful, current and proven training is what’s needed.

We knew this was the course to get that training. And in hindsight, I would do it again TOMORROW! In fact, we will be working at another C.R.A.T.E. course by the end of 2022. 

TTAG: Is your company focusing on school safety?

JomsVikings:  Very much so. A I mentioned earlier, many of us have children or grandchildren that could easily be affected by threats in school. Kids should be free to learn and grow in a safe and secure environment, without needing to feel imprisoned.

While some of the systems already in place can work, their success has proven to be limited. There are more pieces to the puzzle and better protocols out there , and we want to bring our talents to the table as part of the solution. 

TTAG: Please expand on that a bit.

JomsVikings:  Funds and resources that are meant for securing schools have been diverted to programs for counseling, student intervention, etc. But the attacks on schools that have cost human lives are the result of outside attackers getting access resulting in carnage. We have teamed up with local sheriffs, police chiefs, criminal justice professionals and state legislators to address that aspect of the issue.

As these issues are increasingly addressed and solutions are developed, more enthusiastic leadership and training partners are going to be needed. We want to be part of those solutions, so we wanted to get ahead of the curve. Every day that changed and solutions are delayed is another day that schools and students are left vulnerable. And that is just not acceptable.

TTAG:  What would you say is your company mission as Vikings in this crazy state that our country currently in? 

JomsVikings:  We are not only dedicated in our approach to clients and contracts, but also to the people we employ. As a disabled veteran-owned company and we’re committed to being a landing pad for veterans who are transitioning from their military career and looking for someplace that their skills and experience can translate.

We also want to support former LE professionals that are still interested in serving their communities, but have decide that their time in conventional policing has ended.

People from all levels of society are realizing what kind of day and age we are living in now. The risks, threats and vulnerabilities are getting very real for many people who never thought about them before. As a company, JomsVikings is perfectly placed to help. And while we are a for-profit company, our thought process is…just do what’s right, because it’s right. The rest will take care of itself. 

TTAG:  Any closing words of advice to anyone who wants to get involved with what you are doing? 

JomsVikings:  Yes! If you consider yourself a protector, and if you have a heart for the sheep, then it’s time to get ready. The time to get your head right about what you may be called to do is now. We’ve decided that should we happen on a situation like what happened in Uvalde, we are prepared to put it all on the line. If you aren’t, you need to quit sucking up training valuable time and training dollars and let the Vikings go do some Viking shit.

TTAG:  Thanks For your time, Gary, stay safe out there.

JomsVikings:  Thank you for having us.



A Chicago native, Waysun Johnny Tsai is an internationally recognized published book and DVD personality, tactical industry magazine writer and founder of the C.U.M.A. Survival School and C.U.M.A Combatives. He is also a renowned knife designer for several companies such as TOPS KNIVES, SMOKY MOUNTAIN KNIFE WORKS and WORK TUFF GEAR.

Johnny completed his first Controlled F.O.R.C.E. Instructor certification in 2012 and joined the company in 2022 as the Special Programs Manager and instructor. He has over 25 years of experience in the private security sector and has held security management positions at Chicago Public Schools on location at Morgan Park High School and for the CPS Special Events Administration citywide security “Yellow Jackets” team. Johnny is a lifelong martial artist who holds multiple black belts that are eighth degree (master level) and above. He brings more than 36 years of self-defense instructor experience to the team.

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  1. I’m thinking a Smooth Criminal or a gang banger as credentials.
    Its always law enforcement or military background.

  2. Um, it may just be me, but… I find this an extremely odd post. I’m not quite sure what I just read. Is it supposed to be informational? Is it supposed to be an advertisement? Is it intended to actually be taken seriously (because it’s just a bit… “off”)? I’m really at a loss here- what is the purpose of this incongruous narration?

    • Bottom line: It was an ad. Gary Essig has obviously given this same sales talk many times. If the questions weren’t scripted in advance, they were certainly edited afterwards. Of course, when you “interview” a guy who is in the business of selling a service and ask him to tell everyone why they should hire you, a sales pitch is all you are going to get.

    • Indeed.
      It needs to be made super clear if this article is some form of paid advertisement or not.

      • No, it was not a paid advertisement in any shape and was just a straight up interview. I interview many companies and allow them to promote what they do a bit, THAT IS A BENEFIT of having your business interviewed and services covered by media.

  3. So when will Minneapolis privatize their police service? Available by subscription, which must be kept up to date or no service.

    Does anyone see any possible collusion, corruption, or conflict of interests?

  4. “JomsVikings: Our company is comprised of former military operators and former law enforcement professionals…”

    Actual ‘Operators’, IE, from US Army special forces community?

    (Asking because TTAG’s JWT doesn’t consider US Navy ‘SEALs’ to be ‘operators’…)

    • @Geoff

      Do ya really care who JWT thinks is an operator or not? 😜 And yes, Navy Seals are actual operators too.

      Yes, JomsVikings uses actual military experienced operators.

      My wife has used them when she covers stories.

  5. It was extremely interesting and telling that they offered no actual video or written evidence of what they actually do.
    Protecting reporters, OK, 4or 5 guys can form a ring around the reporter and escort them away from a mob.

    They said they do residential protection. what exactly does that mean?
    Do they do neighborhood patrol? Or do they only protect one building? What can they do when they find people breaking into houses? Do they lay hands on them, restrain them, and have them arrested?
    What are the actually legalities of restraining potential criminals in a leftist environment like Minneapolis? Have they done this? What did the courts do when they turn someone over to the police?
    Are they armed? What kind of rules of engagement do they have?
    Does Minnesota have citizens arrest? Do they have a policy on arresting criminals?

  6. Why would anyone need their services? It was and continues to be mostly peaceful there after all.

    Must be a grill malfunction at that Arby’s.

  7. So what’s so bloody special about PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES? There are hundreds if not thousands of them and in every country on Earth and have been since for ever. I don’t know about the USA but in the UK they are licensed and have very high standards of license. Even unharmed [ wbhich is the norm] Security have to undergo rigorous training and pass obligatory government regulated Professional Examinations and Continuing Professional Developement [CPD] like any other professional tradespeople. They are not just buggers with attitude guns anymore.
    When my son left the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant he was offered an exceptionally well paid position in one of those UK Private Security Companies with an international reputation, including a considerable presense in the USA and the Middle East, mainly I think because he has served as a CAPTAIN [Honourary] in the SAUDI Defence Forces [and no he’s not a Muslim]. He turned it down and went into Financial Services and Banking.

      • No he said he had kids, two I believe, raised them up all by himself. The rebuttal was how could you raise kids by yourself being an RAF armourer/ SAS instructor this that and the other until retirement and have time to raise kids? Well he would have told you but then he’d have to kill you.
        Albert LJ(Little John) Hall is the real deal.
        A man among men, the Queens beans.
        Hes a real war hero and pin ball wizard too.

      • I’m quite sure that Albert’s new imaginary son learned his skills in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, attaining the rank of Major farce.

  8. police staffing is inadequate in many cities.
    crime is on the rise to unprecedented levels.
    you can pay for protection.
    cool, got it- thanks.
    for locations where it is deemed unacceptable to allow school personnel to defend their charges they can implement this.

  9. @Xaun Loc,
    Did you by chance misspell Xuan Loc?
    We used that burg as a phonetic test case for future Radio Operators. Then I went there. ‘Course after all this time it could be the cobwebs residing in the vacuum between my headset…

  10. Everybody wants to be an operator….. lets get this term straight for once and all.

    Just What Is a Military Operator?
    The military includes a wide range of units with various titles and specializations, from the Navy SEALs to the Army Rangers. “Military Operator” is one title that you may come across occasionally without knowing what it means. What is a military operator and what do they do?

    The term military operator typically refers to members of the Special Operations Force (SOF). The SOF are elite military units trained to complete special operations. However, some individuals use the term military operator interchangeably with a (military contractor) which is a person or company contracted to work for the military. They are not operators!

    Military operators are members of the US Special Operations Force (SOF). The term was first used in the late 1950s when qualified officers and enlisted soldiers signed the Code of the “SPECIAL FORCES OPERATOR”.
    The US military has expanded since the late 1950s and now includes a wide range of units with service members who may qualify as military operators. US Special Operations Forces consist of:

    Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)
    Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC)
    Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)
    Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC)
    Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)
    Within these commands are additional groups with specialized training. However, the term “military operator” is often used for a only a “select few” Special Operations Forces:

    Army Green Berets
    Army Night Stalkers
    Army Rangers
    Navy SEALs
    Marine MARSOC
    Marine RECON
    Air Force Special Tactics
    These SOF units include elite soldiers. The units are deployed to execute specialized missions, including unconventional warfare and special reconnaissance. SOF units are involved in discreet military actions around the globe.

    Close to 70% of special operations personnel are overseen by the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). The USASOC is the largest service component of the US Special Operations Command.

    While military operator is the name for members of the SOF, the term is also mistakenly used interchangeably with military contractors. A (military contractor) is a civilian or company that provides service to the military through a contract with the Department of Defense (DoD).

    • A military operator operating operationally:
      “Yes I’d like to place a call to 316-449-2341.”
      One moment please.

  11. Possum is correct. There were 9 guys doing supportive work for every grunt. Cooked his food, delivered his mail, typed his orders, etc. Our SOLE PURPOSE was to give him whatever he needed, and quick. With maybe 40% of my company (E-4 and below) enjoying dope, and 3% enamored to alcohol (E-6 and above), plus a great many disillusioned or drafted, their weren’t enough guys dedicated to their real function.
    Thanks a Butt-load, Possum…now everybody thinks I wuz Lilly Tomlin on a mountain top, surrounded by 140 Real Men.

    Know Your Place, Gentlemen.

  12. Oh cool, private armies available to the ultra wealthy to protect themselves from the unwashed masses.

    Just what we need in these trying times.

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