The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

Prevention and preparedness: The pillars of SAAFE-T

Staci's thumbnailGuest column by Staci L. George

Be proactive, not simply reactive.

That is the idea that ignited Todd Rosenthal’s establishment of SAAFE-T – an acronym for Situational Awareness & Assailant Force Evasion Training. It was founded in February 2013 and is based in Annapolis.

[pullquote]“As a professional investor, I wish I could buy stock in Todd and SAAFE-T” – Joe Kessler[/pullquote]


“I developed SAAFE-T exclusively to teach individuals how to prevent situations of assault, to intelligently respond to attacks with equal force, and create the opportunity for escape,” said Rosenthal, an Annapolis resident.

SAAFE-T’s slogan is “Semper Paratus,” which is Latin for “always prepared.”

The standard two-hour seminar includes situational awareness and mental preparation; defensive tactics and tactical strikes; locks, breaks and holds; knife defense and disarms; firearms safety awareness and disarms; after action measures; non-verbal communication techniques; and evasion skills.

He starts off quoting Aristotle: “The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness rather than mere survival.”

Prevention and preparedness are two pillars of SAAFE-T.

“This seminar will introduce you to the smart, strategically layered elements of the SAAFE-T training method,” Rosenthal said. “It was developed to allow people to thwart or otherwise deter an attack at home and in public; when traveling or socializing.”

His seminar is not a self-defense course, nor is it meant to take the place of a police department, medical professionals or government agencies in the event of an emergency.

“Calling the police while your home is being invaded, going to a victim support center after you’ve been assaulted or raped, and increasing punishments for criminals are all ‘after action.’ This doesn’t mean they’re wrong to do, but they are measures that take place after somebody has become a victim,” he said.

Rosenthal says his one-man operation has few competitors and many advantages.

“There are few, if any, organizations that are solely devoted to providing the knowledge, understanding and/or technical tools for young—or elderly – individuals to mentally and physically protect themselves (or those around them) from unexpected, abrupt assaults.”

Rosenthal was personally touched by a heinous crime while in college in 2001. A friend on his dormitory floor was murdered at the hands of her boyfriend. Rosenthal was the first responder in the room and was the one who pronounced her dead.

It is this saddening experience that inspired his academic and professional pursuits.

“I vowed from that moment forward to dedicate my entire life to crime prevention,” he said.

He spent the entire summer after the incident applying to internships with the federal government. He was accepted to the Secret Service, FBI, ATF, and Bureau of Prisons. He chose the Secret Service because it was on the brink of a huge campaign year and he “wanted to be part of the societal change.”

Bluebird hovers at the house

Rosenthal is a certified Rape Aggression Defense Systems (RAD) instructor, NRA Certified Firearms instructor, experienced martial artist, and community crime prevention activist. He interned with the U.S. Secret Service; is a graduate of the Body Language Institute; and was a senior communication specialist for the U.S. Department of Defense. He holds two Master’s degrees in Communication.

Because of his compassion and expertise, others can relate to and trust him.

“I cannot give back the years my son lost living in fear or the scars that remain as result of him being bullied,” said Lynn Bergman. “SAAFE-T is the ideal initiative to empower people to refuse to be victimized.”

Bergman, a lifelong friend of Rosenthal’s, said her three children have all taken SAAFE-T courses.

“There is a tremendous peace of mind knowing that they are prepared for dangerous situations, what to look for, and how to avoid them,” Bergman said in a reference letter on Rosenthal’s behalf.

He has presented SAAFE-T at his alma mater, Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey; at Maryland schools, fitness centers and private parties; and abroad in Mexico. He teamed up with some investigation and intelligence firms to consult on sensitive investigations.

“He has the ability to instantly connect with people, which will be invaluable as he develops a trust with those who wish to partake in SAAFE-T,” said Christopher Fenaroli.

Rosenthal advised his friend of more than 15 years to take self-defense courses. While doing so, Fenaroli was partnered with a woman who had been physically abused by her husband.

“Instead of choosing to remain the victim, the woman took the steps to develop a skill that would provide a more secure environment for both her and her daughter,” said Fenaroli. “This is exactly the type of life empowering skill that SAAFE-T can efficiently provide.”

As Rosenthal is quick to point out, the world is a more dangerous place than it was fifty years ago. A playground bully is not the only threat to children – and to adults alike. He noticed a statistical rise in violent crimes, including victims in the military.

“The last 40-50 years of the 20th Century were remarkable in terms of turbulence, school shootings, acts of terrorism, kidnappings, stabbings, gang rapes, hate crimes, social revolutions – events that rarely occurred in our society since the end of The Civil War in 1865.”

Beyond the books and news articles Rosenthal has read on the topics, he has firsthand experience interacting with grief-stricken individuals.

“In addition to his ability to be the ‘calm’ in stormy situations, he has also been an advocate for family members who lost their loved ones on 9/11,” said Frank Loomis, Rosenthal’s First Level Supervisor when employed by Jardon Howard Technologies.

Loomis was referring to Rosenthal’s role as a senior communication specialist for the Department of Defense. Part of the job was to help plan and execute various special events. Whether it was placing wreaths on the fence around the Pentagon Memorial, escorting guests to the annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony, or providing tours through the Pentagon, Rosenthal displayed empathy and professionalism, Loomis said.

Rosenthal has a number of goals not only for the upcoming year, but beyond. He hopes to make it his full-time career and a household name. He wants to team up with law enforcement agencies, educational institutions, and community groups.

He envisions SAAFE-T as the next DARE ­– the acronym for the international education program called Drug Abuse Resistance Education program founded by Daryl Gates in 1984 – for crime prevention.

“I want to be recognized for the hard work I’m doing and for the kids I went to high-school with to say: ‘That’s him?’”

Joe Kessler, a managing partner with Next-Stage Developing Group, said Rosenthal’s natural abilities and his interest in helping others protect themselves is a winning combination.

“As a professional investor, I wish I could buy stock in Todd and SAAFE-T.”

For more information about SAAFE-T, contact Rosenthal at 240-620-7221 or

Staci L. George is a freelance writer and media relations coordinator from northeast Pennsylvania. As a former journalist for three community newspapers and the U.S. Department of Defense, she covered breaking news, business, education, tourism and special events. She is a Georgetown University graduate, having earned a Masters in Communication, Culture and Technology and later a Certificate in Digital Media Management. Please contact her at, Facebook, LinkedIn or @stacigeorge2 on Twitter. 

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