Meet Mike & Debbie Gardner

About Debbie Gardner
and Her Greatest Teacher—Husband, Mike

Debbie and Mike met at the Cincinnati Police Academy in 1973.  During their distinguished law enforcement careers, their training was extensive … and their tests of courage and application of self-defense were routine.  Due to life threatening personal challenges, they were forced to respectfully question traditional survival/self-defense concepts that emphasized complication instead of focused simplicity. In a crisis, the Gardner’s learned that …


Mike is a 28-year veteran Sergeant of the Cincinnati Police Division (CPD), serving as CPD’s legal liaison, expert witness for use of force issues, and academy instructor. Recognized for his extraordinary research and innovative “real life” teaching style, Mike is certified by numerous national and international police self-defense training programs. Mike was acknowledged as Officer of the Year in l990 by the Cincinnati Police Department. His unique crisis control concepts for police officers have been featured in OMNI Magazine and in newspapers all over the United States.  He retired from Warren County Sheriff’s Office after serving as Commander of the Police Academy. Mike now serves as a Professional Consultant and Use-of-Force Expert for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Debbie retired from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department after 8 years employment as a Deputy Sheriff.  She was one of the first women in the United States to be assigned patrol duty, alone, in the mid 70?s.  Debbie is also certified by various national and international self-defense training programs.

In 1974, reality struck Debbie the day she was assaulted with a gun and froze prior to graduating from the Police Academy … even though her martial arts and physical training was extensive and she was a straight-A student. Training, certificates and titles mean nothing if knowledge cannot be applied when needed! This dramatic failure changed her and Mike’s belief in traditional training and gave them the backbone to go in a different direction for answers.

Debbie founded the Survive Institute on February 4, l981 as a result of letters she and Mike received after a regional TV appearance. The host convinced her she had a responsibility to share her “gift of teaching fear control and courage”. The Gardner’s message thrives today due to personal endorsements, referrals and recommendations.

Sparked by their latest book Raising Kids Who Can Protect Themselves (McGraw-Hill, New York). Debbie & Mike were honored by an invitation from the White House to attend a private Conference on School Safety after the Amish School Shootings.

Debbie is also the author of Simply the BST Crime Survival (BookMasters, Inc.) and SURVIVE! Don’t be a Victim (Warner Books, New York). Debbie was acknowledged as America’s #1 Female Crime Fighter in the premier issue of Crime Fight magazine. The Gardner’s created a Corporate Safety Training Video series entitled YES YOU CAN! Surviving a Personal Attack (Curtis Inc., Cincinnati OH) as well as YES YOU CAN!, a two hour family video.  They have been featured in magazines and newspapers throughout the United States and Canada, including Omni, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. They have also been guests on numerous national television shows including O’Reilly Factor, Later TODAY, and … Jerry Springer (no kidding!)

Debbie and Mike conduct their realistic crime survival workshops for corporations, conventions, and colleges in almost every state in the US and in Canada, Central and South America, New Zealand, Australia and Central Europe.

The Gardner’s are the proud parents of a 33 year-old daughter and a 26 year old son who will attest that their parents are the nicest and scariest parents on the planet!




Ready for a great courage adventure in the kitchen?  
Try Debbie’s First Place Award Winning Spicy White Castle Dip!