Protection Experts

Certified Safe Schools, LLC is honored by the support of a diverse range of active and retired military, federal agents, protective services and defense intelligence experts who generously lend their time, experience and expertise toward the tactical soundness of this program.

Dr. Steven P. Bucci
Former United States
Under-secretary of Defense

Former United States Under-secretary of Defense, Dr. Steven P. Bucci, is Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for National Security Policy Studies and Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation for all issues involving Homeland Security and Defense.  He leads a team of analysts on all National and Homeland Security issued as well as regional issues for Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia.

Dr. Bucci serves as a Subject Matter Expert for Cyber Security, Special Operations, and Defense Support to Civil Authorities. He brings over 30 years of leadership at the highest levels of our Government in response to all security threats to America.  He is a recognized expert in the interagency process and the defense of U.S. critical infrastructure throughout the public and private sectors.

In his career, Bucci held key military leadership positions in the 82nd Airborne, the 5th & 7th Special Forces. He conducted numerous counter drug and development missions across Latin America, was the first-ever resident Defense Attaché (human intel collection) in Tirana, Albania and was the Defense Attaché in Sarajevo.  As the Commander, 3d Battalion of the 5th Special Forces, he led deployments to eastern Africa, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia, including Operation Desert Thunder. 

Bucci assumed the duties of the Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense on 1 July 2001, saw the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terrorism, and led a team of 25 US military experts to Baghdad to directly assist the Coalition Provisional Authority.

He was next appointed to serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Homeland Defense and Defense Support to Civil Authorities, overseeing policy issues involving the Defense Domains (Air, Land, Maritime, & Cyber), National Guard domestic operational issues, domestic Counter Terrorism, all Readiness Exercises, and Defense response to natural and manmade disasters.

Mark Babyak
Supervisory Special Agent FBI (Ret.)

Mr. Babyak joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation shortly after graduating from Princeton University.  During his time in the FBI he developed an expertise in several different areas. These areas include security and executive protection, weapons of mass destruction, forensics, and defensive tactics. For his efforts and accomplishments in these areas he has received several letters of commendation from the Director of the FBI, the Award for Public Service from the United States Department of Justice, and recognition from DEA and the US Secret Service.

Mr. Babyak developed considerable expertise in the area of security and executive protection as both an operational member and later the Supervisor of the Special Detail Unit which was responsible for all aspects of the protection of the Director of the FBI.  He is experienced in identifying and addressing security and logistical concerns encountered during both foreign and domestic travel, conducting site surveys, and developing operational plans.

As Operations Program Manager for the Hazardous Materials Response Unit (HMRU), Mr. Babyak coordinated the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) response in the form of HMRU assets with other federal, state, and local resources. He was responsible for the logistical and operational aspects of deployments as well as pre-deployments and site vulnerability assessments for large scale Special.

Mr. Babyak retired from the FBI in 2003 from the position of Supervisory Special Agent after more than twenty-nine years of service. After retiring from the FBI, he provided security work Manis Investigations, Inc., Global Security Services, Matrix International, Engineered Security Systems and others.

Special Agent Gary S. Coffman DEA (Ret.)

Gary S. Coffman began his career in local law enforcement working in Broward County, Florida.  He served there for over a decade as a patrol officer, special services, the detective bureau, and as a sergeant.  In this capacity, Gary conducted the full range of police investigations from petty theft, to vehicular homicide, to murder.

He then joined the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  Over the course of his service with DEA, Gary enforced state and federal drug laws and conducted complex conspiracy investigations.  After a long career as a Criminal Investigator in South Florida, Gary was selected from among hundreds of candidates to serve as an Instructor for the DEA Training Academy.  In that capacity, Gary taught U.S. Federal Agents and foreign police executives at venues around the world.  He retired from DEA while serving as the Country Attaché in Haiti in 2012. Since then, Gary has worked as a Private Investigator serving the insurance industry, legal community, and private businesses on a wide variety of civil and criminal investigations.  He is proud to be a participant in the implementation of the National Standard for the Eradication of School Violence Program

Special Agent Theresa Griffiths
FBI (Ret.)

Theresa Griffiths retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a Special Agent, after 20 years of service.  She has specialized in sophisticated Counterintelligence, National Security, Cyber, Computer Forensics, White Collar Crime and Counterterrorism matters.  She has led several complex investigations domestically and internationally, where she has worked closely with the intelligence community and other law enforcement agencies.  Led a team of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, to conduct investigations after the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.  Interrogation and interview of defendants overseas, suspected of terrorism.  Conducted interrogations and interviews, where she provided daily reports, for a Joint Task Force in Iraq.  Successful prosecution with the assistance of Interpol, the Panamanian and Italian government, investigating several foreign nationals for Intellectual Property Rights Violations, where she also acted in an undercover capacity.

Special Agent Griffiths served as the FBI’s principle manager/coordinator for the South Florida Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC) and InfraGard programs, with more than 1400 members.  Planned, coordinated, hosted, and managed more than 40 conferences/events, focused on improving the security dialogue between the public and private sectors.  Delivered presentations and training sessions related to counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cyber security and other relevant threats.

She received several honors and awards.  The Joint Civilian Service Achievement Award, in 2010, from the United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious achievement as an Interrogator for a Joint Task Force in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The Combat Theater Award in 2009, from the FBI, for service in Iraq.  There were several Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Awards, from the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida.  Prior to joining the FBI, Theresa Griffiths earned a BBA, from Temple University.  In 1987, she assisted in the creation of First Bank of Philadelphia, where she ultimately reached the ranks of Vice President/Controller/Treasurer.

Mark Lyons, USMC (Ret.)

Mark Lyons has extensive experience in Federal law enforcement, counterintelligence, and security operations.  He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 20 years of service.  Notable assignments included Guard Officer for the Presidential Helicopter Squadron (HMX-1), Commanding Officer of Marine Corps Security Forces, Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, CA, and Provost Marshal of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, SC. His last assignment was as the Concepts and Requirements Officer for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, Quantico, VA.  After leaving the Marine Corps, Mark served with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as a Deputy Chief for the DIA Police and as a Counterintelligence Special Agent. Mark led the Antiterrorism / Force Protection Diplomatic Security Mission for DIA.  His team bolstered the defensive posture of the Agency through a suite of services that enhanced employee’s ability to respond in crisis situations overseas.  Through mobile training teams, his division provided on-site, tailored, threat specific training that included: vulnerability and threat assessments, residential security assessment, travel route analysis and updated restricted areas of travel, emergency action drills, and active shooter drills. Mark graduated from the United States Naval Academy, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy.

Pat Henry, USMC (Ret.)

Patrick Henry received his operational training and experience from the U. S. Government, 22 years of which were spent in the Marine Corps where he served in the Reconnaissance, Infantry and Intelligence fields. During his active service, he spent more than seven years deployed overseas in combat, operational and training assignments. After the military, Pat worked as a contractor and as the Director of Operations at a private paramilitary firm specializing in training military special operations forces and providing protective services to select private clients. His education consists of an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC), and a BS from San Diego State University with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Psychology.

Pat holds an extensive list of security and training related certifications from a variety of government and nationally recognized entities. He currently sits on the advisory committee at USC’s Master of Veterans Business Program, and is an active member of Infraguard and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He has been a guest speaker at ASIS, the San Diego Industrial Security Awareness Council and other private organizations on physical security, travel security, and intelligence collection countermeasures.

Special Agent Donald J. Mihalek
US Secret Service (Ret.)

Donald J. Mihalek, Executive Director of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers (FLEOA) Association and Executive Vice President of the FLEOA Foundation. Don retired from the US Secret Service after 26 years of federal service as a Senior Special Agent and a Regional Training Coordinator.  He served in a variety of investigative and protective assignments including on the Presidential Protective Detail from 2007-2011. Don was involved with coordinated security for National Special Security Events including the Republican National Convention, multiple United Nations General Assemblies, and the 2016 DNC.  

His career began as a police officer with the United States Park Police serving in Washington DC, San Francisco and New York, NY. Don served in patrol, as a field training instructor, a member of the SWAT Team and on the Marine Patrol Unit. He was the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) Secret Service Agency President from 2001 till retirement and represented the interests of all Secret Service FLEOA members and also served as the Legislative Director from 2004 till 2019. 

As the Executive Vice President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation, Don is responsible for the operational functions of the Foundation. In 2017, he was appointed as a National Ambassador to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children SafeKids program supported by the US Secret Service and is also the US Secret Service Regional In Service Training Coordinator, responsible for coordinating, managing and executing training for over 300 Secret Service Agents including those on the Presidential Protective Division.

Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and an Associates degree in Criminal Justice from Suffolk County Community College, Don is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves serving from 1988 to 1998, obtaining the rank of Lieutenant (O-3) and earning, among others, the National Defense, Meritorious Service and Special Operations awards.

Don has received numerous investigative, legislative and heroism awards including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association “Tip of the Spear” award in 2011, the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Investigator of the Year Award in 2004 and a US Secret Service Distinguished Service Award for his actions during the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11th, 2001.

Special Agent Mihalek (Ret.) is currently an ABC news contributor and subject matter expert on areas of use of force, federal law enforcement authorities, crime, legislative procedures, Capitol Hill, the White House, Executive Branch procedures, politics, Protection, physical security, military policies, law enforcement tactics, the US Coast Guard, US Park Police, Department of Homeland Security and United States Secret Service.

Tom Petrowsky
Supervisory Special Agent FBI (Ret.)

Mr. Petrowski retired from the FBI after 23 years of diverse service.  His criminal investigative experience in the FBI includes assignments to a multi-agency street gang task force and over 10 years in the SWAT program.  His Bureau national security experience includes supervising the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force for 6 years and being detailed to the Counterterrorism Center at the CIA in Langley, VA. For his service at the CIA, he was awarded the George Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism – the CIA’s highest counterterrorism award. 

He served two tours in Iraq with the FBI; in 2004 supervising a counterterrorism team and again in 2005 as the senior FBI manager overseeing the war crimes investigation of the Saddam Hussein regime.

He also served in the FBI’s legal program teaching law at the FBI Academy at Quantico, VA and serving as the Chief Division Counsel in Dallas Division.  In 2016 he received the Manuel J. Gonzalez Ethics Award, the FBI’s highest award for ethics presented annually to one of the Bureau’s 35,000+ employees.  

Prior to the FBI, Mr. Petrowski practiced corporate law in Boston and served as a U.S. Army Special Forces officer, as both an Operator and as a JAG Officer with deployments to Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Central America, and Haiti.

Mr. Petrowski is currently a practicing attorney and an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Strategic Studies at Tarleton State University.  

Steve Tarani

Noted author and keynote speaker Steve Tarani has more than thirty-five years of professional protection experience. Steve is a former CIA full-time protective services employee and subject matter expert who served on numerous high-profile executive protection details and is the lead instructor for a nationally recognized awareness-based training program offered nationally.

Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC certified federal instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operation Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, and the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). 

Formerly on staff at the US DOE National Security Institute (Security Force Training Department) at Kirkland United States Air Force Base (NM), and specializing in operational readiness, he is actively contracted by the US Department of Defense, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Administration, and many others. Tarani remains an advisor to the US Department of Justice, the US Department of Defense and the National Sheriff’s Association’s School Safety and Security Committee.

Special Agent Michael Vaiani
US Secret Service (Ret.)

Mike Vaiani was awarded the United States Secret Service (USSS) Medal of Valor, the highest award bestowed by USSS for actions rendered at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was also the Ground Zero Recovery Team World Trade Center Site Coordinator at World Trade Center for all foreign leaders following the September 11, 2001 attack. In addition to serving as a USSS Special Agent, Mike is a former US Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent, and a former New Jersey Police Officer.

Mr. Vaiani has extensive experience in coordinating complex security operations involving hundreds of agents and outside law enforcement/ support personnel, excels in assessing emergency situations that require acting pro-actively, rapidly and effective experienced emergency responder. He founded, developed, coordinated and facilitated the MTU, Homeland Security Foundation Anti-Terrorism Symposium.  Founded in 2002, the symposium is one of the largest continuous information sharing and networking opportunities for Law Enforcement, Military and Corporate Leader. 

An expert in Consequence Management Planning with extensive background in logistics, planning and implementation of resources to secure venues for high-profile protectees including United States Presidents, he is an industry-recognized executive protection, workplace violence threat mitigation, security analysis, evacuation and relocation planning specialist. He was the Emergency Evacuation and Relocation Coordinator in the event of catastrophic events for the United Nations General Assembly and protective operations in provision of global protection to domestic and international clients.

A routine liaison with most federal and local law enforcement, military and emergency agencies to maintain a viable plan in the event of an evacuation of personnel and assets in New York, Mr. Vaiani designed, implemented and managed detailed emergency evacuation, relocation and crisis management plans for US Secret Service events and high-threat level dignitaries. He was instrumental in protective support of the former President and Vice President in the United States and abroad by conducting numerous complex Presidential and Vice-Presidential advances.