17 Sections

Downing a Duck

Chapter: 1.08
(Section 1: A life that's refreshing and Victorious)
Copyright Michael Bronson 1997, 1999, and 2000

Entrapping (or compromising) a person usually is a long slow process. It is so gradual that a person can be seriously ensnared before he realizes he is in trouble.

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Pete rushed over toward the two prisoners engaged in a fight. To his surprise and horror, he realized he had bitten off more than he could chew. Before him were two prisoners with knifes. As they stepped toward him, they said they hated cops and wanted to kill him.

Just when he thought all was lost, another prisoner, Terry, stepped in between them. Somehow, Terry convinced the two prisoners to back off. As they walked away, Terry said, "Friends have to stick together. You’ve always treated me fairly, Pete. You’re not like the other cops in this joint. I’ll make sure those guys don’t bother you again."

Later that day, Pete brought Terry several packs of cigarettes. It was his way of showing Terry his gratefulness. Unknown to Pete, Terry had staged the fight in the first place. He wanted to create a situation that would develop a bond between Pete and himself. Ironically, the very cigarettes Pete brought in to show his gratefulness were used to pay off the prisoners who staged the fight.

Terry has been working on his duck (an employee who is easily manipulated or fooled) for a long time. This fight was just one of the many steps used to compromise this officer. "Downing a duck" is a gradual process that usually takes 8 to 16 months. The objective is to slowly draw an employee into your friendship and cause him to commit small rule violations to help you out. After a period of time the rule violations become more and more serious. At some point the prisoner will ask the employee to do something illegal, such as bring in some drugs. If the employee resists, the prisoner will bring up past violations and threaten to expose the employee unless he cooperates.

After a lot of careful cultivating, Terry was ready to turn his duck into the "golden goose." He told Pete to bring him a complete officer’s uniform. Pete resisted. After being told every rule infraction (including bringing in drugs) had been meticulously documented, Pete consented.

On the appointed day, Terry put on the officer’s uniform and walked to the front gates. After several close calls, Terry walked out of prison. Terry’s flight to freedom, however, appeared to be short lived. As Terry was hitchhiking down the road an officer from his unit pulled over and told him to get into the car. Terry was about to say, "OK, you got me," when the officer asked Terry where he wanted to be dropped off?

Pete’s professional failure had far reaching implications. While on the run, Terry killed three people in a robbery. With most cases of manipulation, the manipulator develops a passionate hatred toward the duck. This situation was no exception. Terry became obsessed with getting his duck fired. In his attempt to inform the authorities of Pete’s part in the escape, Terry got caught.

Now, back in prison, Terry was asked to talk to a person who was writing a book on con games. At the end of the interview, the author asked, "Now that you are back in prison, are you trying to acquire a new duck?" Terry leaned back in his chair and took a piece of gum out of his pocket. He slowly opened the wrapper and stuck the gum into his mouth. Terry stood up and walked toward the door. Smiling, he turned to the author and said, "They don’t sell gum in this joint. Later man." (Source: Con Games, pages 78 - 92)

Almost every officer who has worked in a prison has, at one time or another, been tested to see what kind of duck he could be made into. Fortunately, most officers have utilized their training to avoid being compromised.

The Bible describes Satan as a roaring lion, searching for someone to devour. Although some prisoners are experts in entrapping people, Satan is far superior. He is an expert on human behavior. Think about it, he has had thousands of years to perfect his art of deception. I have to believe he has a "file" on every one of us and he knows all of our weaknesses. He knows what buttons to push to make us stumble. C.S. Lewis’ book, Screwtape Letters, is a collection of letters from a high level demon to a low level demon telling him how to compromise a Christian. Even though these letters are fictitious, they can provide some insight into the possible inner workings of this underworld.

Satan and his demonic forces would love to destroy you and your testimony. The demonic forces are not sitting back hoping you will have a moment of indiscretion. Rather, they are slowly building a web around you so that one day they will be able to entrap you.

Do you think King David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) was simply an isolated moment of indiscretion? God had described David as a man after His own heart. Yet this great man of God was lured into committing adultery and murder. I can’t believe a man who was this solid could have made such a major blunder without having been previously weakened by Satan.

Even before the sin with Bathsheba, there are several indications David was already experiencing moral decline. For example, despite God’s specific instruction that Kings not have multiple wives (Deut. 17:17), King David had acquired several wives and concubines (2 Sam. 5:13). Just before David committed adultery with Bathsheba we find the interesting phrase (2 Sam. 11:1), "… at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab…." Many theologians believe this verse implied King David should have been leading his troops into war instead of living in the luxury of his palace. They say this shows he had already declined spiritually.


I believe Satan spent years trying to destroy David’s kingdom. Obviously, there’s no way of knowing the actual step Satan used to down his duck, but I’m sure it was well thought out. This was a major coup for the powers of darkness, and I’m sure they had a large victory celebration when David fell.

We should not be overly obsessed with the activities of Satan because this will be counter-productive. We should, however, be aware of his schemes and work hard at keeping him from obtaining a foothold in our lives. We should try to be aware of the subtle ploys Satan might try using on you.

Sexual and marital infidelity seems to be the Achilles’ heel for many Christians. Throughout history many great believers have fallen victim to these temptations. Every Christian should take special precautions to protect himself in this area. If King David (a "man after God’s own heart") and King Solomon (the wisest man in the world) both suffered complete moral collapse in this area, who do we think we are?

As I mentioned earlier, downing a duck consists mainly of focusing on the small "insignificant" violations. Most officers are too smart to get caught up in a major violation right away. It’s the small insignificant things they don’t pay attention to. The bottom line is, if something is wrong, even if it is small, don’t do it.

There are two problems with not dealing with the "little" sins on a consistent basis. The first problem is it makes you vulnerable of being entrapped by Satan (as described above in the story of the escaped prisoner). The second problem is our little sins have the ability of becoming front-page news. Although they may not seem very important in the grand scheme of things, they still can be embarrassing if others find out about them. This embarrassment can be a hindrance to our testimony.

An incident that happened to my co-worker shows how a little problem can quickly mushroom into a large problem and become front-page news. He was driving to work when the police pulled him over for a burned out taillight. When the policeman ran the routine LEIN check on him, my friend was told he was wanted for tax evasion. He was arrested, taken to jail, stripped searched, and booked.

As it turns out, six years ago, he had incorrectly calculated his city income tax. He still owed $15.90 on his taxes. Instead of notifying him that he owed more money, the city issued a warrant for his arrest (which they say is standard practice). Since he was late for work because of being arrested, he was marked AWOL and received "loss time." On top of that, since he worked for a law enforcement agency that fires its employees for felonies and some misdemeanors (even if they are committed outside of work), his employment was placed under review. A written reprimand was eventually placed in his personnel file. Besides having to pay back taxes of $15.90, he also had to pay penalties, fines, court cost, and legal fees.

When he asked the clerk why they didn’t send him a letter six years ago informing him of his mistake, they told him something absolutely astonishing! She said it is not their policy to send out letters informing taxpayers of errors. They simply turn the person’s name over to the police requesting a warrant for their arrest. Although they claim to send letters to delinquent taxpayers informing them there is a warrant for their arrest, my co-worker never received one.

Although this seems bizarre, this is a real life example of how small problems can quickly expand into large problems. We all have small indiscretions that we choose to ignore. It may be something as simple as overstating your mileage on your travel voucher or cheating a little on your income tax. Maybe you are engaging in some "harmless" flirtation at work with your secretary or you occasional look at pornographic material. Would you be embarrassed if others found out about these things? If Satan cannot compromise you with a major sin, he may be willing to hinder your testimony by exposing some of your minor sins.

You may question how small secret indiscretions can become public. Obviously, not all of our secret "little" sins become public. What would happen, however, to your testimony if others were to find out about them? I have seen too many situations where small problems have been blown into large problems. I will give you a couple examples.

The first example is about my boss’s wife. She was sitting at a traffic light when the guy in front of her decided he was sticking out too far in the intersection. He put his car into reverse and backed into her new Cadillac. It didn’t hurt her bumper, but it did cause the airbag to explode. This in turn broke the windshield, resulting in the hood and fenders being scratched by the broken glass. After replacing the hood, fenders, etc., this little "harmless" bump ended up costing the insurance company over $12,000. Needless to say, the insurance company is investigating this repair shop for fraud. Nevertheless, a small bump ended up causing a great deal of damage.

The second example is a problem I had with my Visa card. I was having problems with an Internet order, so I called my credit card company to see if I had been charged for a product. Shockingly, I was informed I was over my limit. Since I pay my card off every month and had an $18,000 limit, I thought someone had stolen my number and was buying things with it.

As it turned out my credit card company reduced my credit limit down to what my current balance was (which was just a couple purchases). They explained to me since I was late on my payment they decided to do a review of my credit history. As a result of this review, they closed down two other accounts and brought the credit limit on the third card down to its current balance (I had four accounts with them). As a result of these accounts being closed, several payments started to bounce. I was getting phone calls from all sorts of concerned companies, plus the credit card company was charging me with multiple "over credit limit" fines. The letters they sent notifying me of the closed accounts arrived about 10 days after they closed my accounts.

I told them I didn’t understand why they did this to me because I had a perfect credit history. I asked them to explain why an $85 payment that was 5 days late would cause this to happen. When she looked into my file, she found I had a perfect credit history and couldn’t understand why this had happened. She immediately opened all of my accounts and after a few weeks I was able to take care of the "over credit limit" fines.

Who would ever have thought a single late payment could cause such a large problem? The lesson to be learned from this is we should never assume that something simple and small couldn’t come to the attention of others. Don’t harbor secret sins or indiscretions. They can pop up and haunt you at the most inappropriate times.


Other Chapters in this Section

A Rose Standing Amongst the Rubble
The Victorious Life
Learn to Walk before You Run
The Same Sun that Melts Wax, Hardens Clay
The Longest Day
What's Important to You?
A Slice of Humble Pie
Downing a Duck
To Con a Con
Life in the Fast Lane

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