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GNIAR meeting: Transportation, personal safety are hot topics
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GNIAR meeting: Transportation, personal safety are hot topics

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“Our annual Trade Expo and Annual Meeting serves two purposes,” says Peter Novak Jr., chief executive officer of the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors which was held late this summer.

“It’s our annual meeting where we elect our board of directors and address other businesses issues that might require voting from our members. And the second is networking," he said.

More than 68 exhibitors took part with the affiliate member companies, Novak said.  

GNIAR Chief Operating Officer Joe Wszolek was one of the speakers leading a discussion on addressing sales tax on services concerns.

Guest speaker U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Merrillville) discussed the South Shore extension from Hammond to Dyer, a key piece of legislation impacting the real estate industry and marketplace.

During the Annual Meeting GNIAR honored three individuals for outstanding service to the real estate industry. They were Buford Eddy of Century 21 Affiliated in Crown Point, who was named 2015 GNIAR Realtor of the Year. Palmer Myers of Meridian Title was recognized as the Association’s Affiliate of the Year. City of Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. was named an Honorary Realtor.

Sylvia McCarty, of A-Pro Realty, in Highland was given the distinguished honor of receiving Realtor Emeritus status, which recognizes individuals who have been a realtor for 40 or more years and have served the membership in a volunteer capacity at the national, state or local level.

While the award was originally given during the Indiana Association of Realtors Legislative Conference earlier this year, GNIAR Realtors Political Action Committee Chair Brenda Miley was presented with the award for 2014 RPAC Chair of the Year for the state of Indiana.

“We had 350 attendees this year,” Novak said. “We’re proud of the event and the number of people who attend and appreciate what that says about our organization. We try to have speakers who will appeal to the needs and interests of our audience.”

This year’s Breakout Session Instructor was Mark Becker. police chief of East Chicago.

Becker, who has a side business, Becker Consulting Group LLC, which deals with a variety of services such as training, investigations and civil law suit reviews, noted that one of the services his company has been very successful at is in dealing with personal safety to a wide variety of audiences.

“Certainly those who deal with the public, walk streets, enter residences, meet and interact with total strangers, have found it to be very helpful,” he said. “From financial institutions, to Realtors, to law enforcement personnel, to public utility providers, the training has been very applicable to a several different walks of life.”

Though the training he presents is dubbed "Pepper Spray," Becker notes it has nothing to do with the actual use of pepper spray, but rather the concept of desensitizing oneself to a blast of fear.

“Every police officer in the country at some point is exposed to a blast of pepper spray to the face,” he said. “The idea is that they become familiar with what it feels like, the panic that takes over when your body is hit by it and it therefore arms you and better prepares to deal with it if you are ever exposed to it in the field. Your body will know what is coming, unlike the bad guy who may have just been hit by the spray for the first time.

According to Becker, while the officer whose has never been sprayed is trying to figure out what just happened and wondering if he or she is going to live, the officer, who has already been exposed, knows it is uncomfortable, but knows he or she isn’t going to die from it.

“It is in those precious seconds that the officer has the upper hand of having been desensitized to the effects of the spray and is able to apply handcuffs and resolve the confrontation without incident,” he said.

This applicable to many other at risk situations any of us might encounter.

“Our students come to understand how emotions and our physiological response to the event is imperative to surviving the event,” Becker said. “If we never give any thought as to what we would do if we were ever in a certain situation, then we are less likely to survive it. We must think these things out ahead of time, desensitize our mind and body to what may occur and then we are better able to survive the event.”

Becker’s "Pepper Spray" is broken down into four basic phases:

Training - understanding the need to train and the need to think about bad things before they are staring us in the face.

Prevention - when do we begin paying attention to our surroundings and how important is that little voice we call our "sixth sense."

The Threat - what does a threat look like? What are some indicators that you are about to become a victim? The importance of eye contact, understanding body space and then being able to take action even if doing so means you shall be embarrassed.

The Fight of Your Life - The world is broken down into colors- white (all is good); yellow( something has changed); Red (the threat is approaching) and then the final phase - IDS (in deep) which means only one person is going home tonight and it has to be you, are you prepared to make that happen?

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